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#1 of 19 Old 04-11-2012, 09:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi there,

 

This is my first time posting to this board. My son (21 months) is clearly advanced, if not gifted. He only really started talking at around 12-13 months but since then it has been complete sentences and an unbelievable vocabulary with him communicating really complex ideas and understandings. He easily memorizes long books and poetry that we read together and loves to recite them to himself. He can spell and read a vast number of words and can count into the hundreds (he does this for fun sometimes). He has been able to complete puzzles for 3-4 year olds since he was about 12 months old.

 

Up until now it's been pretty easy to keep him entertained and busy with books, he loves to be read to for long long periods of time and he does play with his toys. He's actually very good about playing independently. Even though I do bring new books home often and he likes this, he seems to be getting bored with things lately. He seems to be interested in longer books with more complex language, but he likes the themes of childrens' stories and of course the pictures in them, so I'm having trouble with finding longerpicture books with advanced language that he will find interesting. He is a huge fan of the longer Seuss books, but we are running out of those  .

 

Also other than books, playing with his toys, and listening to music I'm not sure what I else I can engage him in to keep him busy. I feel like he wants to be doing more but it's hard for me to know what to try with him- it's like with the books- he likes "baby" things but is too advanced for them, ykwim? I've tried some montessori type activities- sorting, matching, counting, pouring etc. and he just does the activity in a second and is done. He does enjoy it but it doesn't last long. He likes arts and crafts but he's also very quick about those things too- he'll make a great painting in 5 minutes and want to move on to something else. I can't keep up! We spend a lot of time outdoors and in the pool.

 

Friends have suggested that I send him to preschool, but I'm really committed to spending his first few years at home with him and then figuring out how we'll proceed with his formal education later. I don't think preschool would be a right fit for him. 

 

Any suggestions? I'm not looking for rigorous academic stuff or anything, just something to keep him happy and entertained and engaged intellectually as he likes to be.

 

Also- off topic... Is it true that gifted kids tend to need less sleep?

 


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#2 of 19 Old 04-11-2012, 09:45 PM
 
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I got my kids out of the house as much as possible. We invested in zoo and aquarium passes and went weekly. We checked out all the nature preserves, tide pools, and parks in the county. We went to the museums on free days. We were all happier on an outing. They were bored at home sometimes too but they found their own ways to entertain themselves.

 

As for sleep, it's child specific. I have two gifted kids... one needs more sleep than average and one less.


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#3 of 19 Old 04-12-2012, 10:45 PM
 
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Another vote for getting out of the house. Open-ended environments that encourage exploration. Nothing structured. A hill and a hole in the backyard. A hose and a bucket and a heap of sand. A basket and a walk through the woods. 

 

And don't underestimate the value of simply including him in your life. It may seem like mundane activities of daily living to you, but as a newcomer to the world it's all pretty novel and exciting to a child. Let him mix the salad, wipe the counter down, count the zucchini rounds you've sliced, pair up socks from the laundry, sweep the living room floor, "dust" the bookshelves, talk to him about this and that as you work side by side.

 

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#4 of 19 Old 04-13-2012, 07:29 PM
 
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Just adding my vote to getting out of the house!  

Regarding sleep - my DD NEEDS more sleep but does in fact sleep less. Don't know if she's gifted yet but - her pediatrician suggested that this difficulty was likely due to her precociousness and "not being able to turn off her brain."

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#5 of 19 Old 04-13-2012, 09:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies!

I guess I wasn't too clear in my post- I'm looking for things to do while we ARE in the house! We do get out every day for hours at a time- we go to the zoo regularly, parks, the beach, he is just starting swimming lessons and we also just play in the pool, and we go to kindermusik, and a wonderful play group/story and singing group. He does like going on outings and errands if they don't take too long too. We go on long walks early in the morning (before it gets too hot as we live in the desert), lately he likes to watch the construction going on near our place and we frequently run out to see the garbage trucks do their work haha.

 

Anyway, we do go out a lot, I'm just looking for more ways to keep busy while we are in the house because we can't be out all the time, especially as it gets hotter out. Activities that take longer than a few minutes- he has the attention span he just finishes things quickly. 

Thanks.


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#6 of 19 Old 04-13-2012, 10:50 PM
 
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You say he spends hours a day outside, has several scheduled group activities or classes per week, loves listening to books for long, long periods of time, and plays independently very well. I guess I'm not understanding the problem. I would simply include him in your life, allow him to entertain himself as much as he's able, and provide a small assortment of open-ended toys and creativity tools. Other than regular social time with siblings or friends, my 9-year-old doesn't get anything much more than that, and never has.

 

Longer picture books: Have you tried Winnie the Pooh? Cynthia Rylant's Lighthouse Family books? Stellaluna? Three Tales of My Father's Dragon? The Quiltmaker's Gift? Illustrated anthologies of myths and fairy tales? Illustrated anthologies of poetry? 

 

I think a certain amount of frustration with one's physical, social and intellectual limitations is just a normal part of toddlerhood, gifted or not. It's what provides a child with the drive to move forward towards more mastery and more independence. It isn't necessarily a problem the parent needs to solve, but rather a stage to pass through.

 

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#7 of 19 Old 04-14-2012, 12:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

You say he spends hours a day outside, has several scheduled group activities or classes per week, loves listening to books for long, long periods of time, and plays independently very well. I guess I'm not understanding the problem. I would simply include him in your life, allow him to entertain himself as much as he's able, and provide a small assortment of open-ended toys and creativity tools. Other than regular social time with siblings or friends, my 9-year-old doesn't get anything much more than that, and never has.

 

Longer picture books: Have you tried Winnie the Pooh? Cynthia Rylant's Lighthouse Family books? Stellaluna? Three Tales of My Father's Dragon? The Quiltmaker's Gift? Illustrated anthologies of myths and fairy tales? Illustrated anthologies of poetry? 

 

I think a certain amount of frustration with one's physical, social and intellectual limitations is just a normal part of toddlerhood, gifted or not. It's what provides a child with the drive to move forward towards more mastery and more independence. It isn't necessarily a problem the parent needs to solve, but rather a stage to pass through.

 

Miranda

It's not really a big problem, I didn't say it was. I said he seems bored sometimes and I was just looking for ideas for other things for him to do at home, that's all. I have trouble coming up with more things for him to do at home that suit both his intellect and his maturity level.

 

Thanks for the book recommendations. We do have a few anthologies of poetry which he loves. I don't like fairy tales, too violent and full of negative messages. I'll look into the other books you mentioned though.

 

I don't think DS is frustrated with his limitations- he is actually less so than many other toddlers I know. It's probably the opposite if anything- he is hungry for more challenges and interesting things and I'd like to do my best to provide those since he isn't at the age yet where he can really seek those things out for himself.

 

Thanks. 
 

 


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#8 of 19 Old 04-14-2012, 06:19 AM
 
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It helps to not buy toys that are age specific, really, but just slowly start stocking up on open ended good quality toys.  Wooden train tracks (IKEAs are great and inexpensive), duplos, wood unit blocks, a wooden play kitchen and simple foods, a wooden doll house and simple dolls (or those awesome toideloi stackhouses), nice art supplies (which can be so easily extended with cut up pictures from magazines/free maps/etc for collages), a sand/water table if you have room outside (or just bins), etc.  A doll, some play silks. 

 

These toys will last for years and he will always find new ways to use them.  That's in terms of where to invest any birthday money or holiday presents.  I found having those things above really helped increase how long my son's attention span was for play.  Pretend play really starts to get going at this age and is so good for cognitive development. 

 

But in general you don't need all those toys to make your house interesting!  Sensory play (make obleck, make your own playdoh, messy play with flour and water outside, etc) is cheap and easy.  If you get your hands on a big cardboard box, turn it into a house/train/castle.  If you get a bunch of smaller boxes  make them a long train with many different cars.  Let him paint/marker decorate them. 

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#9 of 19 Old 04-14-2012, 09:55 AM
 
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I remember being puzzled at around that age that my DD didn't linger the way DS did when he was a toddler, but it just took her a little longer to find that pace. I do think it's valuable for young children to lose themselves in activity, but I guess my experience has been that the child needs to discover what things to linger on. Each of my children has had one thing at a time, seemingly, that draws them in. Drawing, for DD; DS spends more time reading than anything else now, but for a long time it was any kind of construction toy (not the big blocks, but very small things like K'Nex, Legos, marble run). Do you have a toy library near that you could use to try out without investing?

 

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#10 of 19 Old 04-14-2012, 10:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by expat-mama View Post

I don't think DS is frustrated with his limitations- he is actually less so than many other toddlers I know. It's probably the opposite if anything- he is hungry for more challenges and interesting things and I'd like to do my best to provide those since he isn't at the age yet where he can really seek those things out for himself.


It sounds like he's hungry for novelty but is dealing with the limitations of his creativity and attention span, and also his inability to seek out challenges and interesting things for himself. Those are the sorts of limitations I'm talking about. I'm not dissing his intellectual abilities, just pointing out the obvious business of being a toddler. He likes new stuff, but he isn't really at an age or stage where he's able to delve deeply within the new things and create new possibilities. What you mention about his painting ... my kids were the same at that age. Yet at age 3 or 4, exactly the same materials would happily satisfy them for hours on end. They were experimenting with washes, colour-blending, dry-brush technique, representational and abstract painting, large-format paintings inspired by music and movement, miniatures that pushed the limits of their fine motor control. The Brio train set ... at age 18 months they were done with it in half an hour. By age 3 they were inventing complex stories involving conflict, economics, character development, exploration, drawing maps of what they made so they could remember the layouts, using cushions to change track levels and create roller coasters. My kids eventually created a vast Bronte-family-esque world out of this play which dominated their play well into their school years.

 

So assuming you're providing him with a few well-chosen open-ended toys and creativity tools (which it sounds like you are), I would guess that his inability to find challenge within them more a function of his toddler-level developmental maturity than any need for additional challenging activities provided by you or others. 

 

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#11 of 19 Old 04-14-2012, 06:59 PM
 
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Maybe focus on more open-ended activities? Playing kitchen/restaurant/store, playing with trains, building with blocks, incorporating stories you've read into the play?
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#12 of 19 Old 04-15-2012, 01:40 AM
 
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My 2 year old son has really enjoyed non-fiction chapter books and long picture books about his favorite subject (trains), so you might look into something like that as well because the content is fine for a toddler while offering far more detail and complex language to absorb.  Unfortunately, we read all of them (and I mean, all of them that have been published, ever, as far as I can tell) many times within a short period of time and now he's bored, too.  I got some beautiful storybooks with fairytales, but like you noted most of them are too violent, and even with the most tame ones he's sensitive about the protagonists being in danger so he doesn't want to read them anymore.  He's been obsessed with the characters from the movie Kiki's Delivery Service, which has a wonderful and wonderfully LONG picture book along with it, but even that has lost it's appeal, along with our extensive Thomas the Tank Engine library.  Poetry hasn't quite caught on yet.  Tonight we didn't read anything because he said "no" to every book I suggested...now I'm almost regretting encouraging him to choose books when he was tiny!  (But not really, of course.)  So I'm trying to figure out what's next here as well.

 

I'd second the recommendation for getting him involved in the kitchen.  It's often easier said than done, but my son started in the learning tower at about 15 months old and loves helping me cook.  He has a few favorite things that he's memorized the ingredients for, and there's so many concepts involved in cooking that he learns something no matter what we do or how many times we make the same thing.  He also love his play kitchen, both pretending to cook and pretending to host lunches and tea parties (generally in the dining car of a train).

 

Sometimes, finding the right art supplies helps a lot.  We recently got a big pack of the washable "pipsqueak" markers from Crayola that are much smaller, and for some reason they (along with a new drawing pad) have been much more attractive than the regular-sized markers were of late, and he'll do several drawings in a row.  But then again, we might have hit some developmental leap at just that time.  Reading to him while he draws also lengthens the session.  He really likes White Rabbit's Color Book and The Color Kittens, although he also likes it when I read non-art related books, too.  And his favorite thing is for me to draw on the same page with him.  We make up stories together and draw them, or he'll have an idea for something and will work up a design together (the latest one was an Easter egg machine), or sometimes I just sit next to him and start drawing on one side of the page, and he'll start drawing on the other.

 

Otherwise, at our house it's Duplo blocks and trains, trains, wooden trains.  The depth of play you get from a good wooden train set as time goes on is amazing.  I was very resistant to Thomas originally, but the thing about it is that having all the trains be characters adds a lot more range to where the pretend play can go with them, so I'm glad I relented at this point.  We also like dominos and building blocks, and we're doing some very gentle forays into learning about chess at his request.  Recently, playing "train shop" has become very fun for him, and he spent a lot of time playing with a dollhouse at Grandma's house last week.  Also, "live action" versions of anything he's interested in...TV shows, books, video games/websites...the great thing, especially with the TV shows and video games, is that the live action versions start to replace the original inspiration, so it's been a great way of limited screen time without him realizing it.

 


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#13 of 19 Old 04-15-2012, 06:22 AM
 
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#14 of 19 Old 04-15-2012, 09:22 AM
 
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I'm going to ditto the wooden trains, unit blocks, play silks, musical instruments, colored wiffle balls, ball tracks, play kitchen, duplo (check out Duplo educational, not just the retail stuff), board games (especially Haba and Selecta ones with wooden pieces - at that age mine had mastered Orchard, Geoprimo, Picobello, The Snowman Game, wooden dominos, wooden memory games, Animal Yatzee), card games (Go Fish comes in some great variants - try the alphabet ones), more puzzles (don't worry about age ratings - just keep getting slightly more challenging ones), do gross-motor skills activities (kicking a soccer ball, playing catch, obstacle courses, slide, swing, scooter, bicycle, push car), set up the house so he can do as much of his own self care as possible (dressing, setting the table, washing his hands, sponge, dust pan and broom - have a clear place for him to put away books, toys, games, etc., have a place for him to put his shoes away, hang up his coat, etc., have him help sort and put away laundry, have him help you cook and clean and do yard work). Do more challenging crafts: string long necklaces - show him patterns to follow if you'd like, lace up felt stuffed animals (fill with cotton) and decorate with felt pieces, buttons, etc. Get lots of foam letters for the tub. Spell family names and other favorite words. Have him sort toys and household objects by color.

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#15 of 19 Old 04-16-2012, 10:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by expecting-joy View Post

duplo (check out Duplo educational, not just the retail stuff)


We have the Duplo education tubes experiment set.  It's awesome.

 

I second the Haba board games, too.  My son also likes playing with our various versions of Carcassonne...months ago, he made up a version of Kids of Carcassonne that he can play, but just matching up the tiles to make a map and using the little wooden pieces for pretend play is fun for him, too.


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#16 of 19 Old 04-19-2012, 07:45 AM
 
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I recall feeling like I was almost constantly entertaining ds around that age. If boredom set in I'd find him standing on the kitchen table so I had to work pretty hard at keeping him busy.

At that age ds wasn't playing with "baby toys" anymore but was matching colors and organizing/grouping like items. He also enjoyed blocks and his ball pit. We went outside a lot and I find this is very important now that he's a bit older.

 

As for your question about sleep, I believe it varies by child however, dh didn't sleep as a child (says mil) and ds 2yo sleeps a total of 10 hours per night while dd 5.75yo sleeps at least 12 hours and sometimes as much as 14 hours.

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#17 of 19 Old 04-20-2012, 06:02 PM
 
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If you haven't yet, I would give him games like blokus or animal dominos...something that involves manual dexterity which would play in to his physical maturity needs, and also involves problem solving. These kinds of games can be open ended in that there are new ways to play with them  if he has the imagination for it as well. They are also the kinds of games that do take a certain amount of time, even for an adult, so should keep him a little more occupied. He can also do it independently. These games worked wonders for my gifted child starting around your sons age...and still now at age 4.

 

Also, Hi!! from your ddc :)


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#18 of 19 Old 06-11-2012, 11:10 PM
 
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My little guy loves this: http://www.infomontessori.com/sensorial/visual-sense-trinomial-cube.htm

Trinomial cube. the thing about montessori is that it isn't any set of activities per se, but the observation of the child and the introduction of the next work at the right time... the above website has some great demonstrations of the works and the works themselves... while many are expensive, there are some great ideas of things you can make yourself. :)

 

He also loves to build forts, and we save old tubes/boxes and give him loads of tape to make sculptures... a roll of duct tape and scotch take, some empty paper towel tubes and boxes = at least an hour of fun! Add a few balls or marbles to roll down, and make chain reaction machines, and you can get even more fun.  cartesian divers are fun, too!
 

We do a lot of vinegar and baking soda, corn starch and water, and general mess making outside.

 

My little guy loves to sweep and do household stuff, too. He likes to do the dishes and clean stuff... although it sometimes makes a bigger mess, it does engage him.

 

I work at home with my 2.5 year old and a baby, so I am constantly looking for things to do with him and get some work done.  this is a great thread.


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#19 of 19 Old 06-13-2012, 09:34 PM
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My 24 mo DD loves nonfiction books written at a K-2 level. There's usually lots of pictures and interesting facts. She especially loves ones about animals, but you could go any direction that is catching your DC's attention. If you haven't already, really engage with a librarian in your children's room. They can take your child's interests and really help you expand on them!

 

Look at toys that your child can use for years, just at different levels. In addition to the ones I've seen mentioned here, Wedgits are great for building in non-conventional ways, MagnaTiles are expensive but fantastic, and a set of pattern blocks can go a long way especially if you make a homemade light table or light box. Toddler-friendly musical instruments are great. I'm on a constant quest for more and better art supplies and found the book First Art to be a good one for this age. My DD really likes Memory now, and I'll set it up with about 6 pairs at a time and let her find the matches by flipping them over two at a time. If particularly interested in letters or numbers, there are a lot of possibilities to facilitate that. I always keep in mind "language arts, math, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, daily living skills" and then try to think of what I can do through play to facilitate whatever the next step in each of these categories would be for DD.

 

I really like the blog Play at Home Moms for a random collection of ideas. http://playathomemom3.blogspot.com/


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