Summer is kicking us hard over here.
Actually, swim and dive are kicking us hard over here, like always. And at five weeks in, between meets, practices, relays, pep rallies, and team events, our family has run a bigtime marathon.
So our Smart Summer Calendar and daily plan have morphed into something that is really, truly working out well for us: Tabletop Surprises.
Tabletop Surprises? Easy.
On their own time. On my own time.
Creative learning and crafting opportunities for the kids on the craft room table.
Opportunities for open-ended play and learning–when it works best for them.
For now? It’s rocking.
Here’s the skinny. . .
- Tabletop Surprises–Simple, Learning Fun:
What are Tabletop Surprises? If you follow me on Instagram, you’d know what I’m talking about because each day I’ve shared a quick photo of each day’s surprise each day of the week.
Tabletop Surprises are fun learning or creative thinking opportunities for the kids on our craft room table. Just sitting there.
Waiting for someone to come along and try ’em out.
How to I get the kids to actually sit down and do the activities? A few ways:
1. The activities are fun and they want to do them;
2. At any given time, on any given day, I have been known to toss a few gems into the gem jars of people who have been spotted doing the activity. Not every day, but some days.
3. I’ll join them. Kids–I truly believe–like to hang out with their parents. Especially if their parents are kinda cool or funny or at least act like they’re cool or funny. I like to hang out with my kids, so when they sit, if I can, I’ll join them.
Tabletop Surprises for this week: Here we go. . .
- Magnetic Poetry: Magnetic words by our friends at Magnetic Poetry, and this set is the Magnetic Poetry Really Big Words Set. All I did was put a bunch of words on three clean cookie sheets.
That’s it. I started with a funny sentence on each tray, and I let the kids take it from there.
They liked it. Tried to sneak in a little potty talk, but lucky for us the set doesn’t really lend itself to such.
focus of this activity: creative thinking, reading, speaking
- Shape Blocks & Pattern Cards: Love, love, love this set. There are dozens of great sets out there on the market, and I’m not even sure where ours came from.
I put the cards out on the table, threw some shapes into three separate containers to avoid grabbing and arguing, and crossed my fingers. Owen hit the table without asking me to play Wii, and he sat and worked until breakfast. Win!
focus: geometry, critical thinking, fine motor skills
- Melty Perler Beads & Pegboards: I love these, and so do the kids. Perler beads are simply teeny, tiny beads that fit on small pegboards.
Kids can create patterns, letters, words, you name it, by placing the beads on the small pegs. When the creation is complete, you iron it to melt them together. Once it’s cool, it pops off of the pegboard and you have a little masterpiece.
focus: fine motor, patterning, creative thinking
- Mazes: I have fallen head over heels for KrazyDad and his amazing math site. Serious gold mine of printable puzzles, mazes, and so much more, it’s insanity.
All I did for today was dive into the maze area of his site, and I printed out mazes of varying difficulty. I went for Easy, Intermediate, Challenging, and
Tough, and they all rocked.
Second day in a row that the O-Man chose unplugged fun vs the siren call of his Wii.
focus: critical thinking, fine motor, problem-solving
- Magnets, Pipecleaners, & Paperclips: Easy, easy, easy. Magnets are so fun, and my kids have loved them forever and ever.
I used the disc magnets from way back when we made Bottle cap Ornaments, glass vase and some empty glass jars from the recycle box, colored paper clips, and pipe cleaners.
I cut the pipe cleaners into various sizes and threw them in the bottom of the glasses. I added some paper clips and scattered the magnets. Done. Invitation to explore.
Kids? Loved it.
focus: science, fine motor, critical thinking
Really? That’s it. So fun, so easy.
Next week we’ve got some really cool ideas up our sleeve for Tabletop Surprises. Gotta love summer, and as the kids are yearning for more independence, I think this is the recipe for success.
Need some supplies for your own Tabletop Surprises? Click below: