I spend most of my time interacting with my 2.5 y/o, but I work at home and there are times when she just has to play by herself. I have absolutely no babysitter/family/childcare options so I give my extremely clingy DD activities she can do by herself while I work. Lately, she is tired of the usual activities. Can I get some good ideas and recommendations? She is at about a 4 y/o level (why I didn't put this in the toddler section) and can have very small objects and messy things. She is tidy and does not put things into her mouth. She does not like to play with toys. She especially likes letters and reading activities and will usually prefer those over other things but I can't find many that she can do without help.
Here are the things she does already:
-stringing beads or old buttons on a string with blunted needle
-"school" activities such as tracing, letter matching
-playing with dishes in sink
-a video on those rare "not going to do anything else you suggest" days
-playing Starfall.com on iPhone
-paper dolls (maybe I can download some more to spice it up)
-collage with glue
-pouring glitter out of a salt shaker onto a tray (pour glitter back into jar and repeat)
Thanks so much for the help!
letter/animal/number magnets and a tin tray (mine LOVED this....still do)
pipe cleaners-- they seriously can play with these for a loong time, also can string 'pony' beads on them and make bracelets
small chalkboard and chalk
water table (fill large tupperware with water, surround with towels and give water proof toys/bucks/measuring spoons)
stamps & washable ink
dance music (mine love to dance to different kinds of music- current favs are reggae and classical 'ballet'type)
felt board and figures (lots to print online)
boxes (mine have always loved to play in boxes)
paint by water books or watercolors
Bingo dot painters
View Masters and a small collection of discs.
I don't have many more suggestions than what you are already doing, but what about magnets or a felt board? I loved both when I was a kid, and my dd likes playing with magnets on the fridge all the time.
Edit: looks like I'm very slow to post, but the pp's ideas are really great. I completely forgot about magnadoodle, my dd loves hers.
These are great ideas, thanks! She has magnets, but I can make a felt board and our library does have a few books on tape or I could make her some myself.
Some of these might give you some ideas. You might have to do them with her the first time, but once she learns a technique, she could do her own version independently.
If you have an iPhone, there are some great Montessori apps, as well as counting apps, etc. Check the iTunes year in Review best apps list for Tots for good examples. My just-barely-3-yr-old can entertain herself for a good 45 minutes with some of those.
Mine luuuuuvs baths. Those are usually good for another 45 minutes. I set up a reflective mirror so I can see her in the tub and still work at my desk.
Pets? When I'm seriously desperate I'll let one of the cats in. She thinks they're great fun to chase around. ;)
Legos? Magna-tiles? Tinker-Toys? Those plus dolls equal some good time for work, as well. Building houses, etc. Also, getting cardboard boxes for her to paint and "decorate" for dollhouses is apparently great fun.
Home made playdough is big at my house. And honestly I have spent some money at toy stores looking for little activity sets to pull out at just the right moment. I normally have 2-3 in a cabinet for those desperate times when I have to be on the phone and nothing is working. Recently a big hit was a set of markers for use on windows.