Child's Play

Ed Note This article is written by my daughter Laura, a new mother and originally was posted to her blog:   thecoblecolumner. I wish I had been as resourceful as Laura when I was a young mother.  I hope this encourages young moms to enjoy their babies, because babies grow up very quickly!   Reprinted by permission.

Now that I am no longer working at my job, and I am home with my baby, I find myself wondering “what do I do with a baby?”.  Of course, I know to change his diaper, feed him, give him naps, all the basics.  But other than that, what do you do with a baby?  Job is just about sick of his Exersaucer and there are only so many games of peekaboo that we can play….

So I went to the library.  The library is my answer to many of life’s problems.  Or rather Amazon is my answer.  I use Amazon to find a book to answer my questions, but then I go to the library (because I’m too poor to buy the book…shhhh…don’t tell Amazon!).  Anyway, I found two books at the library that inspired me on ways to interact with Job, as well as ways to keep him occupied for when I really do to “get something done”!

The first book is Slow and Steady Get Me Ready by June R. Oberlander.  This book has one educational activity for each week of baby’s life from birth through age 5.  The activities require items that can be pretty much found around your house.  For example, a few weeks ago the activity of the week was to learn about drumming and rhythm.  The instructions were to set two or three different objects in front of the baby (I used a ceramic bowl, a tin pan, and a box), and then put a stick of some sort (I used a wooden spoon) in the baby’s hand with your hand over the baby’s hand.  Practice drumming out a 1-2, 1-2 beat on the various surfaces.  The baby can hear various sounds and feel the vibrations from the different objects being drummed upon as well as be introduced to rhythm.

The hope is that, by repeating this activity for a few minutes each day, by the end of the week, baby can beat on the surface on his own, possibly even at a 1-2 beat.  Job learned to beat on the box, but only for a few beats and then he preferred to suck on the wooden spoon.  Nonetheless, it was an interesting activity to keep us both engaged for a while.  The book is full of weekly activities to do with your child for just a few minutes each day.

The other book I checked out at the library was Your Child At Play-Birth to One Year by Marilyn Segal.  This book is packed with interesting and engaging activities to do with your child, or for your child to do on his own.  The book is divided into 12 sections, one for each month.  Some of the activities in the seven month section are “Light Switch Play” (When you put baby down for a nap, allow him to turn off the light and say “light’s out”), “Reflections” (set a mirror, in a safe way, in front of baby and let him interact with his mirror image), and “Yogurt Paint” (dap a little bit of yogurt in front of baby and let him play with the yogurt.  Job had a blast with this one, smearing it around on the table and then sucking on his fingers.).

There are tons of other activities in the seven month section, as well as in all the other sections.  This books is full of fun ideas to keep baby engaged. The author has a book for age 1, age 2, and age 3-5.  I haven’t looked at these books so I don’t know if they are any good, but I love the first one in the series so hopefully the following books are just as good.

I found a third book in a bookstore that I found quite worth while called The Complete Daily Curriculum by Pam Schiller and Pat Phipps.  The book is for older kids, so Job is not ready for the activities yet, but he will be soon!  This book is geared for kids age 3-6 and it is written from the perspective of a preschool teacher teaching a whole classroom.  But nearly all of the activities can be used with your own child at home.  The book is very easily laid out, with the first part of the book devoted to themes, such as “The Color Red” or “Teddy Bears”.

There are six different activities as well as book suggestions to correspond with each theme.  For example, for the theme of “Forest Animals” there are six activities including an art activity to paint a picture of a forest, a dramatic play activity to make stick puppets of various animals (you can use an included pattern), and a game activity to play Forest Animal Concentration (also using an included pattern).  The second half of the book is filled with patterns, games ideas, and songs and rhymes.  While you may not be sitting down with your son or daughter and doing an organized preschool, this book is a great resource to look through for simple ideas to keep your child busy with new and different activities.

By the way, all of these books are available on Amazon for really cheap prices if you buy a used copy.  I know because…well…I purchased them for myself (and Brandon is eating Mac N’ Cheese for the third time this week), or rather I should say I purchased them for Job;-)

I know that it is easy to get stuck in a rut, giving your child the same activity over and over again.  But with these three books, or at least the first two for Job’s age, hopefully I can mix things up a bit, stimulate his mind, and give Job and I some fun ways to interact together!  Hope these are helpful to you as well.

If you have some ways that you interact with your child or some fun ideas to keep your child entertained for a while, please feel free to post them in the comments!  I love new and fresh ideas.  Thanks!

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