What are activity boxes?
Our activity boxes are school boxes that consist of activities that my toddlers (and now preschooler) can do independently. It worked so well last year that we are continuing it again this year. Only this time around, I didn't have any prep work. All the activities were ready, and we continued with our same system. Here are the boxes stacked on a shelf in our school room:
These boxes are only played with during school time, when I need the toddlers to be occupied. Each child is allowed to play with only one box at a time. That box must be placed back on the shelf before getting a new one.
Now, before you think that my toddlers just eagerly play with these for hours on end while I work with my older child, please don't. These activity boxes only get used about 30-45 minutes at the most each school day...and that may even be stretching it. Their attention span is limited, so I have to break it up for them. If I need additional instruction time directly with my older child, I may let the younger ones have free play in their bedroom, or I'll let them watch a short video (usually educational). None the less, 30-45 minutes can be a huge life saver. Anyone with a toddler knows that well!
How are the activities organized?
I came up with 40 different activities. We rotate these so that only 10 activities are used in a week. This way it takes four weeks to get through all of them before starting over and prevents boredom on any one activity.
I keep a basket for each of the four weeks. In each basket, I have 10 storage bags with activities. On Monday morning, each bag from that week's basket is simply emptied into a school box and stacked on the shelf. When the next week begins, the activities are taken back out of the boxes, put back into the bags and placed in the correct basket. Then, we start filling the boxes again with the next basket of activities.
You're probably wondering why I don't just pull the basket down and let them play with the activities right out of the bags. You could do this, but the school boxes seemed to work better for my kids. Plus, they are sturdier, and will last longer.
The boxes consist of things that develop creative play, critical thinking, motor skills, etc. Some toys we already owned (blocks, cars), some things I bought, and some things I made from existing everyday objects (like straws, rubber bands, and toilet paper tubes).
Instead of including all 40 activities in this post, I will break them down by each week in 4 subsequent posts (along with pictures), so be watching!
Do you have a toddler (or toddlers) that you need to occupy at some point in your day? This isn't just applicable to homeschool moms. I'd love to hear your fresh and fun ideas.