TV-free Ideas - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 10-22-2002, 04:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Oh, I'm sure there must be a thread around here somewhere like this, but I have been unable to locate it. Anyway, here is my dilemma: I teach my 5 1/2 year old first grade - this is our second year (she will be 6 next month). My 3 year old comes into our classroom and does school with us for a little while; things she can do together with us: the date, the weather, some Spanish, singing, etc. After about a half hour she'll say she wants to go watch something. Well, for the most part I am okay about this... well, kind of okay. We DO have TV - tho I could and would readily live without. DH grew up a TV junkie and his mom still has hers on 24/7. Now DH has whittled it WAY down to just a football or basketball game if our team is playing or the occasional public TV documentary, but he says he is comfortable with his viewing habits and DOES want to keep the TV for those things he enjoys (which I don't really blame him, because he does not enjoy reading - I on the other hand, am a book FREAK and have difficulty understanding how a person would NOT enjoy reading, but we can't all be alike, now can we?) I digress... So, the shows I let our kids watch are a few on Nick Jr. - like Dora the Explorer and we mute or turn off commercials and a few PBS shows. So, they are not all terrible things BUT we just went 6 days with no TV whatsoever and I loved it! I was playing books and music on tape for my little one and she would work puzzles,etc. while we did school. But today she's gotten a cold and was begging me repetitively for a movie. So, finally, I let them watch one after school. A video- not a show. ANYWAY, I say all this not because I think its a crime to watch the occasional show, but I do hate hearing her ask for one every day and I would like other TV-free ideas. So, this is what we do already: puzzles, play-doh, workbooks, magnet play, books on tape, shaving cream, painting, beads, sewing cards and just toys. I try to find things that will occupy her without me constantly needing to help her - tho I am there if she needs me. I just wonder if anyone else has a few fresh ideas for me. Sorry this was so long - I tend to be a bit chatty - as if you hadn't noticed.
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#2 of 13 Old 10-22-2002, 04:50 PM
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I had to laugh a bit because this sounds so much like my 3yo! I am also teaching a 4yo, and my 3yo can get impatient after awhile, but in general I try to always have something similar for him to do while his brother is doing "schoolwork". Like today when my 4yo was sewing a small pillow (way too advanced for the 3yo) I let the 3yo sew with a blunt needle and yarn on some burlap. The 3yo also has his own books for coloring or whatever he wants while we work. He also enjoys the time alone with toys which usually they have to share (like the Duplo tracks and train). I do feel blessed when he will gladly go look at some books by himself for a few minutes, but this past week after he has also been sick, he ahs asked for videos every day. But we have managed to go back to none after several days with too many when we were all sick. But definitely only videos, because then at least you do not have to worry about the commercial business. What about story videos, like books on videos? Could be a middle of the road when she is sick and until you can get back to no tv.
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#3 of 13 Old 10-22-2002, 07:28 PM
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How about listening to books on tape while coloring or drawing or doing some kind of craft or chore, or puzzle?

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#4 of 13 Old 10-23-2002, 12:33 AM
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I have found with my girls that if they ask for a movie I can almost always substitue reading to them or putting on music for them to sing and/or dance. I try to go with their mood or with the time of day. If sick or tired, we usually read. I am always amazed at how much energy everyone suddenly has if we simply put on music. Even classical gets them on their feet (which is so much better than passive television viewing).
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#5 of 13 Old 10-23-2002, 01:05 AM
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My 3 year old loves to have a bowl of water, an empty bowl, and a sponge on a tray. She loves to soak up , sqeeze, transfer the water. Also she likes to paint a lot and draw with chalk. Music is also good, but my 8 yr old can't handle it if he is trying to add or write. I think I also have cut up a bunch of fruit and put each piece into an ice cube tray, gave my dd a large spear type fancy fork and let her stab the fruit and dip it into yougurt. Pretty much anything really messy is good to engross her.:
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#6 of 13 Old 10-23-2002, 11:18 AM
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I have been collecting ideas for years. I know this format is a bit hard to follow, but I just cut and pasted it from files and don't have time to clean it up. The ideas have come from many other mothers:

-Water Play- at the kitchen sink with bowls measuring spoons and
Don't give them enough water to make a big mess. But remember wet
are not hard to change. Or, put them in the bath tub with thier swim
clothes on.
- Sand Play-Use a large rubbermaid tup with a tight fitting lid to
keep a
shallow amount of sand in. This is also good to drive thier little
around in. Or, sprinkle a small amount of flour on the kitchen
They can
write letters, pictures or drive thier cars on that.
-Snow Play- Use a bucket or tub to bring snow into the Bath tub. Put
the kids
in their boots and let them play. When the snow melts it goes down
the drain.And
if the kids have to go to the bathroom you don't have all those
layers to peel
-Magnets on the Refrigerator. Alphabet Magnets(reinforce the glue as
magnets can fall out and be easily swallowed
-Magnifying glass. Hide some pennies on the floor for them to find.
-Masking Tape-A wad of tape balled up is fun for a baby to play with.
Cut strips
of masking tape and line it up on Waxed paper. Let your child peel
them off and
make roads on the carpet. When they are done just peel up the roads
and throw
them away.
-Bubble Blowing in the Bath tub. Recipe: 1 part Dish
Detergant(palmolive or
Joy),2 parts water and 1 T. glycerine. Put into muffin tin. They
can't tip it
over as easily.

Visual Discrimination
-Treasure Hunts(go get me a truck, go get me a red truck, go get me
two balls)
-Classifying and sorting objects. Use a pegboard, duplos or legos.
-Light Bright
-Felt shapes on a Flannel Board
play with dominoes
Auditory Skills
-Tape recorder with tapes to listen to. . Record stories for you children to listen to. They will
enjoy the
sound of your voice.
-First instruments
-Songs with rymes and actions.
-Measure Things. Past pictures of Household Items on
have them start measuring things with yarn first. Compare size of one
with another. They measure it and come back and tell you what they
found. As
children get older give them a measuring tape and have them write
down the
Fine Motor Skills
Develop these as it will help with handwriting later.
-playing musical instruments
-Playdough-put it on a place mat.
Recipe: 2t. cream of tarter, 1 cup plain flour, 1/2c.salt,
1T.oil,1c. water,
color with Kool-aid. Cook together for a few minutes until it balls
up. Knead
a little and store in an air tight container
-Finger paint, with pudding.
-paint with brushes
-paint with water books using q-tips for brushes.
-Washable Markers-(stain removal-1-800-Crayola)
-Nerf Balls
-Bean Bags
-Indoor Play equipment
-Nesting and stacking toys
-Imitating and pretending (dress up clothes)
-Side walk chalk Recepe: Plaster of Paris and food coloring. Harden
in the
fingers of rubber gloves or poke holes in the ground with a broom
stick and
pour it into there. Then the kids can dig them up.
-Last but not least the Busy Box. A large box with age appropriate
that they can only have during school time. Rotate these toys. Add
new toys
from Birthdays and Christmas.

>>>Here are a few activities to keep the little ones busy while
the older ones. I will keep adding to this as I gather the time.

1) Paint with water books are great!!! We use them everyday. I teach
little ones their colors this way.

2) Shaving cream....yes, it is messy, but great for the imagination!
little ones keep busy for long periods of time with this activity.
sculpture anything they want. Non-irritating to the skin. Very
imagination builder, and teaches texture too.

3) I take the brown paper bags that we get at the grocery store and
cut them
open. I tape them to a door or wall, give them a box of crayons, and
them have fun. Of course I use washable crayons just in case.

4) I pre-cut out pictures of food from old magazines. I use the
meat trays, and double sided tape. The children prepare their own
meals this
way. Great for teaching balanced meals, importance of healthy foods
junk foods.

5) I give them old newspaper and let them tear it up using a pincher
This is very important for them to learn. It teaches them the proper
way to
hold a crayon or pencil by knowing this pincher grip.

6) All time favorite of play-dough and cookie cutters. I will find my
for kool-aid play-dough.

7) Making collages keeps them busy too. For this I use glue sticks.
easier for little ones to use.

8) Legos, wood blocks, and waffle blocks are all great for the

9) Stringing cheerios is great fun. They get to eat it when they are

10) We make our own bean bags. I let the children toss these into
baskets from a distance.

The most important thing to remember is that children learn through
Make a game out of everything possible. My children never had a hard
with abc's. We sang them all the time. When we get dressed everyday,
we say
"Today we are wearing our blue shirt, blue pants, and white socks. I
brown eyes and brown hair and this is the way I comb my brown

Just give them a piece of paper, a box of crayons, and leave them
alone for
a few minutes. They have great imaginations.
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#7 of 13 Old 10-23-2002, 05:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Woo hoo! I love the ideas! Thank you all so much! We do some of these things already, but even a few new ones are awsome to add to the cache! My printer is smokin' now!
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#8 of 13 Old 10-23-2002, 07:15 PM
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Thanks Kangamom, I am saving all those great ideas as well!!!!
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#9 of 13 Old 10-24-2002, 03:42 AM
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Well, I think I'll still add my measly idea to the pot!
I got a tupperware container, poured rice in it, and gave my 2 year old matchbox cars to drive in it. Less mess than sand, doesn't stain anything, and worked like magic today!
Funny, then I had to pour rice for everyone.....but it motivated the six year old to stay on task. Yeah!
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#10 of 13 Old 10-24-2002, 04:07 AM
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THANKS KANGA MOM..... For all those great idea's I'm sure this is going to help ds and me lots.....
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#11 of 13 Old 10-24-2002, 04:10 AM
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WOW Kangamom, you rock

I have a couple more for outside time...we are big on nature around here, so we did/do a lot outside.

collect stuff....leaves, sticks, twigs, acorns, flowers, whatever on a nature walk...u can create a theme such as colors or related items and then build a nature table when you get home.

learn how to make daisy chains and crowns, with leaves or moss or whatever your local area has.

make a fairy ring and play area and invite the fairies...little ones love to check and see if the water has been drunk or anything moved....

hunt" bugs and look them up, birds too.

plant things, all ages can do this. We would let the olders do their work under a tree while we wander the area.
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#12 of 13 Old 01-22-2005, 04:48 PM
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thank you to granola girl and kanga mom for the "what to do with tv lovin' 3yr olds" threads. i have read, printed, will thrive! malcolm james thanks you too!
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#13 of 13 Old 01-25-2005, 08:28 PM
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