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Activities for Little Ones this Week

Since we're well over a month into this stay-at-home time, we've discovered a rhythm to our days that feels good. Like most children, Theo thrives on routine, and so keeping a loose schedule without being rigid has been good for us.

Here's our day.

Theo's usually up between 5:30 and 6:30 am. Our only saving grace to this early schedule is that he always climbs in bed with us and snuggles and talks for a good while. We're usually downstairs by 7:00 or 7:30.

First thing in the morning, Theo has some independent playtime while we make coffee, unload the dishwasher and do any other morning chores that need to be done.

I make breakfast, and then Theo has 'breakfast on sofa,' as he calls it. I put his breakfast on a tray and we cuddle up with a big pile of books and read while he has breakfast and we drink coffee. Sometimes Elie reads, sometimes I read, depending on the morning. Breakfast and reading usually lasts about an hour.

After breakfast, we either do some active play with Theo (like building a rocket ship out of all the bench cushions in the kitchen) or we do an activity that I've planned.

After that, if the weather is nice, we head outside. On Tuesdays, we walk to pick up our weekly egg order from a neighbor. On other days, we might wander, looking for neighborhood kitties chasing bees or butterflies, or yelling into water drains to hear the echo. We play in the playhouse, or head out for a bike ride. If it's not a nice day, we try to encourage some more independent play or to head downstairs to his play room.

After that, we all sit down and have a leisurely lunch together. Thanks to the weather, we've mostly been enjoying lunch outside in our front yard. It has become one of my favorite parts of this stay-at-home time, these lunches. Neighbors wander by and stop for a chat. Sometimes Mimi joins us. We just sit and talk, and we've had some of the best conversations during this time.

The afternoons are a little more fluid. We've done field trips to one of the beaches or to Lake Padden, for a change of scenery. We walk across the street to Mimi's to play in her yard or help her in the garden (she's in our quarantine circle). Over-the-fence visits with neighbors and friends have been such a good way to stay connected. Cooking together with Theo's friends over Zoom has been surprisingly fun. One day, Elie and Theo rigged a pulley system off the back deck and spend the whole afternoon seeing what they could 'fish for' and bring up. We usually just let the afternoons unfold, without a particular plan.

Around 4:00 or 4:30, Theo has a little rest time before dinner. This is when he gets to snuggle up on the sofa and watch a video, while I start dinner. Theo eats dinner between 5:00 and 5:30. We sit down with him while he eats, and he always asks Elie to tell him 'scary rocket stories' during dinner. Elie has become a good storyteller.

At 6:00, we head upstairs for brushing teeth, bath and our bedtime routine. We always read exactly three books before bed, no matter how tired Theo is. Sometimes, as we're snuggling and reading, Theo will say, "Mommy, do you mind if I take a nap while you're reading?" And then he's asleep. But if he makes it through books, we say gratefuls, prayers and cuddle and sing. It's another favorite part of my day.

After Theo's asleep, Elie and I have our time together.

I should say, we've tried keeping Theo up later, so we can all have dinner together and enjoy these longer days of spring. But, he's an early riser like his mama, and he's his best self with a good 11 or 12 hours of sleep. So, we'll keep the 7:00 bedtime for now.

I'm always curious how other people spend their days with little ones. What is your daily rhythm? What activities have you been doing?

If you're like me, you've been scouring Instagram and blogs for fun, easy activities during this time. Here are some Theo has really liked. And just as important, these are ones that are fun for us, too. I always find the most successful activities are the ones we both enjoy.

Activities for Little Ones This Week

Create a Story Mat

Theo's nanny from the past couple of years just finished her early education degree, and she has a magical capacity for imagination play. She has started a You Tube Channel with creative ideas for little ones while they are staying at home. Her idea for a Story Mat was a hit with Theo. We wandered through the yard, gathering small items and placing them in a basket. Then, we placed everything out on the table and Theo used the items to create a story. You could do this every day and it would be different each time.

Cook Together, or Take a Zoom Cooking Class

I love to cook with Theo. It's one of my favorite activities to do with him, since it's something we both enjoy. We've done a couple of Zoom playdates, virtually cooking with friends, which has been really fun. It's good to keep it simple, like the one-bowl banana bread from Cannelle et Vanille, which is so good, not-too-sweet and gluten free. We make these pancakes once a week, storing them in the freezer. These chocolate peanut butter eggs were a big hit, too. And if you don't want to organize a cooking play date yourself, the Tiny Onion Cooking School is offering free classes via Facebook Live on Saturdays.

Make an Indoor Tent

Indoor tents have been a big hit in our house during this time. In Bellingham, we've had some days that have been sunny but really windy, which has driven us inside during lunch. We build a tent and have a picnic lunch on the floor, which is usually followed by reading books or listening to children's stories on Audible (which is free for kids right now) or imaginary play.

Science Experiments

Theo really likes 'science experiments,' and so we do a lot of these for our activities. I've found great ideas on the Kiwi & Co Blog, including this bouncing egg. You just place an egg in a jar and cover it with vinegar. Add food coloring, if you want. The vinegar dissolves the shell and hardens the membrane of the egg, giving the egg the structure to bounce. Warning: your child has to have patience. It takes two days of waiting before the shell dissolves and you can bounce the egg.

Often, we'll just make vinegar and baking soda 'volcanos' or do color mixing experiments. My friend, Kim, posted about this traveling waters experiment. It was really cool, but also requires patience, as it takes about a full 24-hours before the colors all transfer.

Sensory Play

We've made soap bubble foam, play dough and moon sand, all of which are good for sensory play (and a little bit of independent play time). Theo especially liked the moon sand, and it's very simple. Just mix together 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of oil. It becomes moldable, sort of like kinetic sand.

Theo's teacher sent us this recipe for essential oil play dough. We used peppermint essential oil, and it made for a fun twist to our normal recipe, and adds another dimension to the sensory experience.

Scavenger Hunts

We've done several different scavenger hunts over the past few weeks, and Theo really liked this one, which included some sensory experiences in addition to just the hunt.

Theo was tired the day we did this Egg Carton Nature Scavenger Hunt, so we didn't make it all the way through. But I'm saving it for another day. I'm also going to try some of the other nature-based education ideas on her site.

Art Projects

Theo doesn't enjoy art projects as much as imagination play or science experiments. He doesn't like it when his drawings or creations aren't 'perfect.' But, we keep trying to encourage him just to create and not worry about the end product. We keep it pretty simple, with coloring, watercolors or chalk art.

We did create a sweet little spring card we sent to my Granny. To make the chick's beak, just cut a corner from an envelope and glue it to crease in the card. When you open the card, the beak will pop out.

I hope this was helpful! Please send me your ideas as well.

Sending everyone the biggest hugs. xoxo

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