During Christmas vacation, I sat down with my laptop and planner (yes, I still use a paper planner–even though I have a smart phone) and wrote in several activities to do each week with Tank, my 4 year old, after he gets finished with preK in the afternoon. His preferences for after-school activities include watching TV or playing–chasing or wrestling–with his sister, neither of which are great options. So, I thought that, if I planned things for us to do together or for him to do at the table while I’m working on dinner, our afternoons might run more smoothly. And, on the days that we actually do an activity, there is definitely less chaos and misbehavior. Unfortunately, more often than not, something interferes–his mood, interest level, or poor choices at school necessitate a change of plans. However, we have managed a couple of fun projects, including one that took two afternoons in a row. (We started on a Sunday after lunch and he fell asleep during our rest time, otherwise we would have had plenty of time to finish in one afternoon.)
Step one of our project was “polishing” pennies with a vinegar and salt solution. I had seen the idea before, but a post at Shannon’s Tot School was where I got my specifics. Tank loved this part of the project. He even asked to put it on the activity calendar for another day and checked with me repeatedly during the following week about when he would get to do it again. (Of course, the day I had it written in again he had a really bad day at school and we didn’t get to do anything special, so it will be rescheduled.)
Once our pennies were shiny, we went on to make our own version of a Lucky Penny paper doll. Of course, Tank had to have a boy, instead of a girl doll. No problem. I cut out a body with legs, instead of a dress. He colored on the paper body to decorate it, and we skipped the New Year’s message, since we weren’t giving it as a card. Then, we had no poster stick. No problem. A hot glue gun works great–I sandwiched the paper clip between two pennies with the glue. The finished product was cute, not terribly durable and currently MIA, but cute. And, it was time spent together.