Stations: The Sanity Saver
It’s February. Aaaaand the weather forecast is calling for a high of 5 degrees and 35mm of rain. Again!
Ok deep breaths. We promise, it’ll be okay.
Us moms at The Village Toy Shop have been there. And we’re here to let you in on an experienced-moms-meet-toy-experts secret….
Think of your living room as a mini preschool. What do they have at preschool and daycare? Stations. Why? Because they know kids have short attention spans but that they will also come back to an activity. This is often why when you set up one activity, it doesn’t seem successful after your kiddo has played with it for 0.4 seconds and are now onto literally climbing your walls.
Instead, set up a few easy, independent activities after kids are in bed (or before they wake up in the morning) and then you’re ready the next day. Let kiddos bounce back and forth between stations and you’ll be shocked at how well they play on their own.
Here are some simple station ideas:
- Play Doh and Loose Parts
Throw down a plastic tablecloth under your table and put out some Play Doh. You can either make your own dough (here’s a link to the “Perfect Homemade Play Dough” by Play Teach Repeat) or pick up a pack from the Shop. If your kids are into playsets put one of those out, otherwise grab some Grapat Mandala pieces or a few acrylic glitter stones. A big hit for pairing with Play Doh is a wooden bowl and spoon. These loose parts paired with Play Doh make for great open ended play.
- Play Silks and a Baby Doll
Sarah’s Silks work so well with baby dolls. Set up a station with a baby doll and a play silk or two. The baby can be put to bed with a play silk or wrapped up to cuddle. The Baby Stella dolls are great for small hands and simple accessories. Plus, playing with baby dolls is also a great way to build empathy in young children!
- Active Play
Check out our post on Active Play and use it for inspiration to set up a station that’ll get kiddos moving.
- Kinetic Sand and Schleich Animals
Get out a big bin and dump your Kinetic Sand Add in a few of your kid’s favourite animals, maybe a few sand toys and you’re ready to go. After you’re done, put the Kinetic Sand in a Ziploc bag and seal it up tight so it’s fresh for your next use!
- A Book and Building
A really fun way to activate your child’s imagination is to read a book and then follow that with building something that compliments the book. Let’s say you read about flying to the moon, then you could build a rocket ship! What you’re using to build is totally age dependent. For a toddler you could use Duplo, a preschooler would love Grimm’s blocks. For an older kiddo LEGO would be perfect!
Tips to make Stations a success:
- Tidy Up
Clean up the play space beforehand. Tidy the area, put away all toys except what you’re using in the stations. Kids can get easily overwhelmed by too many toys or too much clutter. Keeping the area clean often extends their play.
- Keep it Simple
If one station is LEGO, don’t bring out their entire LEGO collection. Instead, get a few figures and a nice simple selection of pieces out. If one station is colouring, they don’t need more than one colouring book and a few pencils. Once again, we don’t want to overwhelm them!
- Spread things out
Even if your living room or playroom isn’t a large space, spread out the stations so kids have to physically move from on spot to the other. One station can be on the couch, the other at the table, colouring can be set up in the floor of the kitchen. Clearly defined, separated spaces make it more fun!
Ok! You can do it! The stretch from winter to spring break can feel long, especially with cold, dreary weather outside. But we pinky promise, stations will help!