I have a new job! And I love it!
For the next few weeks at least, all of my school age grandchildren are at home, learning virtually. That process involves classmate Zoom meetings, something they've adjusted to well after a bit of initial glitching. In our two local families, however, two testy little "bugs" remain in the system. Checking in at about three feet tall, self-liberated from nap-taking, the pair is alert and impish, equipped with acute sensing that detects mommy's Zoom time busyness. And then....
Let the shenanigans begin!......
Or so they thought!
Because that's when GRANDMA reports to work! Yep, that's my new job! I've taken on those two little just-three year olds with the task of keepin' 'em occupied so older siblings can Zoom in peace while mommy supervises them and not the little tornados who previously found high hilarity in antics like video-bombing family cats! (Now, just between us, do I secretly find that adorably cute? Oh heck YEAH! Shhhh!)
From previous experience, (since these little tykes are #9 and #10 in my batch of ten) I know that this age can be a challenging one to keep fruitfully occupied. Working on my side, though, is their motivation to be included - to be one of "the big kids" - and to "do it by myself!" They also enjoy the direct one-on-one attention from a devoted adult. I've concluded that successful experiences result when a few points are kept in mind:
- projects are age appropriate and safe
- more than enough planned for anticipated time together
- prep work in place, complete ingredients at hand
- immediate, satisfying results
- respect for the process
Pretty much anything that involves a puddle of paint is a winner. Brushes optional, since the multi-eyed monster shown above required only a blob of green, a straw for blowing it around, glue stick, paper scraps, and a crayon for adding menacing, spidery arms and legs!
A splash of orange and half a small potato transforms a paper sheet into an endearing patch of pumpkins. This activity is great for practicing patterning and scissors skill.
Healthy snacks - like veggie pizza - allow pint sized bakers to deliver treats with genuine "I made it myself" swagger. Cut veggies and make cream cheese topping at home so assembling is all that remains to be done once cooled crust is out of the oven. (Kitty in background agrees with me that our interpretation of "spread carrots out evenly" differs from that of a three year old!)
Sneak in some learning fun wherever you can. An Amazon shopping spree supplied each of my little guys their own counting scale. I call out a digit to place on one plate; an equivalent amount of froggies must be carefully added to the other side to achieve a successful balance. Lots of laughs, especially when a stray Lego guy shows up to throw things off when grandma isn't looking! (froggin' around again!)
And, of course, we supplement the artsy-craftsy stuff with floor puzzles, book reading, and board game playing. Those standard grandma fallbacks fill inevitable attention span gaps that lead to "What'll we do now?!!" panic. Kids are full of surprises. A finger painting session you thought might last an hour (HA!) might keep 'em busy for a fourth of that time. Then, you'll discover that leaf printing captivates enough fascination to go on and on, covering sheet after sheet of the pristine pack of paper you've carefully piled inside your bulging grandma bag! Let's steal from the Boy Scouts here...."Always be prepared!"