I made Ellie an activity tote to help give me ideas and diversity in the activities we do each day. So often I want to do something with her other than just letting her watch a Baby Einstein or Blue's Clues, but I just can't think of any ideas. When I reach that point now, I reach for the activity tote. It has helped so much! Inside the little pink tote we have...
Little popsicle stick puppets. When Erika and I were at Hobby Lobby in Billings we found these cute little felted wood shapes. They were around 50 cents each, so I bought a bunch and glued them to tongue depressors for Ellie to play with. She really likes them. She usually puts one in each hand and plays with them, making them "walk" (aka hop) around on the table. I ask her things like what each of the animals say and stuff like that. I have a set of jungle animals and a set of farm stuff. Someday I hope to be able to make a felt board backdrop for puppet plays, but I haven't gotten around to that yet.
But I have made her a felt board and a few felt shapes to play with, and that's the next thing in our activity tote. It folds up, but then can stand up or lay down on the table for her to play on. She hasn't played too much with it yet, but I hope to get a few more shapes made that are a little more up her alley. Probably more animals, and perhaps a head she can put eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hair, etc. on.
You've already heard me talk about the wonders of Color Wonder markers, paper, and paints, so you shouldn't be surprised to see those in here.
And of course we have to have the traditional coloring books, crayons, and colored pencils, too.
I also have some foam stamps and stamp pads in the activity tote, for those days I'm feeling particularly brave. =D It occurs to me that I don't have any paper in here for her to stamp on, though, so I might have to remedy that. I think I was planning to have her stamp on cardstock so I could make cards with her creations, sort of like I was planning with the Color Wonder creations. I want to foster a spirit of giving and thankfulness in her, so having her make pictures FOR other people, and then using them as a way to say thank you for gifts, etc. is, I think, a good way to emphasize that, even as young as she is.
So there you have it. Our activity tote. It really has been helpful when she is restless in the afternoon and I am trying to get dinner going and we just need a little activity. She usually sits at the kitchen table so I can interact with her and still get dinner made. And it isn't TV.
(I should add that these are all INSIDE activities. I have a different solution for OUTSIDE activities that I'll share later.)