Please share the fun things you do with 3-4 year olds - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 40 Old 02-10-2007, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Our house is becoming MUCH too serious and intense lately. I miss the days when dd & I were goofy all the time and had tons of fun, and I'm feeling a bit disconnected from her lately. She is 3 1/2, so some of this is due to the normal behaviors of a 3 1/2 year old. Also I am so focused on the babies' needs a lot of the time, that it's hard for me to switch gears & have fun with dd. So, can some of you wise--yet silly & fun mamas please share ideas for playing & connecting with 3-4 year olds? :
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#2 of 40 Old 02-10-2007, 12:53 PM
 
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I am excited to see the replies you get on this thread. I need ideas too for my nearly three year olds.
Things I do that are fun for us anyway--we pull all the couch cushions onto the floor and then jump off the couch into them together. Making tents with blankets. We do a band and march around (though I have twins so that makes more of a band than two I guess). My friend does a lot of art projects (finger paints, gluing stuff, etc.) with her daughter that I would do if we didn't have allergy issues. Playdough isn't creative but can be fun to do together. I've been doing some finger plays with them lately that they like. (10 little fingers all belong to me, I can make them do things do you want to see...for example). Simon says maybe. One of my guess is developmentally delayed so some games that would probably work normally in this age range are out for us. I set up a grocery store the other day and we went "shopping"--though with infant twins that would be too much work I think. A lot of things I do is having them help me with chores and we have fun with it--slow compared to doing it alone but they love it. We do dancing together, row your boat (pulling each other back and forth), ring around the rosie. I think doing stuff together is what is important rather than what we do, right? I'm hoping you get some good ideas I can try!

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#3 of 40 Old 02-10-2007, 04:31 PM
 
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I could have written your post. I want to see what folks say because I am having a tough time with this. DD and I seem so much more confrontational than we used to be. Almost all we do that is fun is read. It makes me sad. So I really need ideas!
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#4 of 40 Old 02-10-2007, 07:15 PM
 
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Here are a few ideas:

Have a picnic inside! Put a blanket down in the house, eat picnic food. For added affect wear bathing suits or sunglasses.

Play with water in the sink. Put towels down. Give her some toys, kitchen stuff and let her go at it. Put her in a bathsuit if you want because she will get wet.

Turn your kitchen into a city. Get a roll of blue painters tape and have your daughter make some roads. Get blocks and little people and cars. Have fun.

Play hide and seek, freeze tag, mother may I, or red light green light.

Here are a few books with ideas:

Preschoolers Busy Book by Trish Kuffner
Cheap book, with LOTS of fun ideas with things you have around the house. Highly recommend this book
http://www.amazon.com/Preschoolers-B...e=UTF8&s=books

Preschool Art by Mary Ann Kohl

My absolute favorite art book. Has lots of open ended art ideas.
http://www.amazon.com/Preschool-Art-...e=UTF8&s=books

Making Make Believe by MaryAnn Kohl - Has lots of ideas for silly things to make and do and props to encourge make believe
http://www.amazon.com/Making-Make-Be...e=UTF8&s=books

I have some more ideas that I'll post later.
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#5 of 40 Old 02-10-2007, 07:40 PM
 
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Got a minute now....

To me the key to having fun things to do is to plan ahead. Take a few minutes over the weekend, look online, look through books and come up with a few ideas. Gather the supplies together and put them in a place. Then when the mood hits you have all the craft supplies together or the items for a new game of pretend, etc. I know that when the mood hits, if I take the time to come up with an idea and then gather the supplies, the mood is lost. But if I have my act together then, when the time is right we can do a fun activity.

Another thing that really helps me is to have a theme for the week. For me this really helps me be creative. For example, Ducks. Read books about ducks, go to a pond and feed ducks, quack like a duck, do a duck craft that you find online, and play with rubber ducks in the sink. For me having a place to start with ideas makes the world of difference. If you want more ideas on this, let me know.

Another idea is to have a book of the day or week. Pick a book from the library or your home library, read it and do activities from the book. I saved a snow day from horribleness by making green eggs and we all ate them with sitting in a box.

Here is a great book with fun ideas based on pictures book
50 picture book activities by Trish Kuffner. I love this book. You probably have alot of the books, the activities are simple and fun. Very appropriate fro 3-4 year olds.

http://www.amazon.com/Picture-Book-A...e=UTF8&s=books
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#6 of 40 Old 02-11-2007, 06:53 AM
 
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Finger painting with shaving cream.

Bring the kiddie pool inside and have an indoor pool party (requires cleanup afterwords).
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#7 of 40 Old 02-11-2007, 11:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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THank you! THere are some great ideas here. I'm taking notes. I used to be able to be spontaneously fun but it's just not happening lately. I like the idea of actually planning ahead for fun activities. I think that will be really helpful for us right now. Thanks for the book recs, too. And I'm glad to know others are feeling this way, too. Keep the ideas coming!!!
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#8 of 40 Old 02-11-2007, 11:29 AM
 
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I'm so glad I saw this thread! I have a 2-mo and an almost 3-yo, so we're a bit younger here, but I'm always looking for new, creative ideas. Here are a few things we do, all are pretty obvious stuff though -

1. Paints. Watercolor and tempera. Last week I let her go to town and make a big mess making drippy paintings where she basically poured and splattered paint to her heart's content. Another idea is to cut out shapes from sponges and then fill squirt bottles with very watered down tempera. Put the shapes on the paper and spray the paint.

2. Silly music. We put on some fun, goofy music and run around. DD just loves picking out music to play so this is an easy one.

3. Indoor "camping". Make a tent with sheets and such. Play inside with flashlights or just read books.

4. Blocks. We use the blocks as props for other toys - making a farm or zoo for her animals or a garage for her cars or a village for her people. DD and I become props too - the cars or horses go up the mountain and slide down the back or tickle the tummy. DD is at the stage where she likes what she builds to stay put for a while.

5. Water play. We've been taking baths together. I let DD go through the kitchen and pick out new things to play with in the tub - old water bottles and things liked that. We put on some music and just play! Always a silly time, blowing bubbles in the water or pouring water on knees, backs, bellys and heads. DD loves dumping water on my head while I make a big show of what a shock it is. Cracks her up every time. She also plays in the kitchen sink while I am cooking.

6. Baking. I've just started doing this with DD. It's messy, but lots of fun. I have some great pix of DD with flour and stuff on her face, holding up a mixing spoon! If you're not into baking, you could make homemade playdough.

7. Hot dog or Taco. I roll DD up in a blanket or sheet and she's my hot dog or taco. I pretend to put on different toppings tickling her as I go and then I eat her up!

8. Pretend sleep. I pretend to sleep and she finds different ways of waking me up. It's great to see what she comes up with!

For craft ideas for older kids, check out http://kidscraftweekly.com/ She has really cute ideas and each week has a different theme.
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#9 of 40 Old 02-11-2007, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm starting a list. Fun things we could do together with 2 babies would be uber-helpful.
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#10 of 40 Old 02-11-2007, 03:48 PM
 
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subbing:

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#11 of 40 Old 02-11-2007, 04:43 PM
 
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Ds loves to get on a step stool and play in the kitchen sink, fillng it up with water and sometimes suds. I give him measuring spoons and cups, and some of his toy boats and he has a blast.

We also take his musical instruments and have a musical parade around the house.

Putting on music and dancing is fun (we like the Ramones, lol)

Making cornstarch "goop"

Playing "supermarket" with his cash register and shopping basket

Baking cookies or cupcakes

Ds loves cutting things with scissors and gluing things together, but needs supervision so we do it together.

He is 4 btw.
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#12 of 40 Old 02-11-2007, 05:07 PM
 
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In the dead of winter we like to create a beach scene in the living room. I lay down blue- and beige-colored blankets or towels for sand and water, and the kids like to "splash" around, build sand castles or boats with wooden blocks, and pretend to be ducks or fish. The kids have expanded the idea to make mountains, snow forts, etc. out of different colored blankets and towels. (I really wish I had some playsilks right now. )

Sometimes when it's dark, we have a jungle expidition. While DH is helping the kids wash up for bed, I hide stuffed animals around the room and turn off all the lights. The kids each get a flashlight and a basket, and look around the room with their lights until they find toys. They are hidden in simple spots so you can find them with a small light (i.e. on the windowsill behind a sheer lace curtain or tucked between two pillows on the couch). This is an idea from The Busy Book for Preschoolers by Trish Kuffner.

Obstacle courses. We don't do this a whole lot but they love it when we do. I set up a course with pillows, boxes, blankets, whatever, and the kids have to traverse it. I try to do a variety of things - jump OVER the blocks, go THROUGH the tunnel (a box with the bottom cut out), go UNDER the table, crawl OVER the pillow mountain, etc.

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#13 of 40 Old 02-11-2007, 05:08 PM
 
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This is a great post. When my boys were 3-4 we did a lot of finger painting, which always turned into body painting but heck, just throw them in the tub afterwards it washes right off. We loved dancing around to music too. My youngest liked to "do dishes" which means he just played in the bubbles in the sink, we camped out in the livingroom with sheets and blankets draped over things and stuffed in drawers, we'd get pillows and blankets and put them inside and then turn on a little lantern and pretend to roast things. My boys liked to brush my hair and put little clips and things in it.

Atara wife to Joseph mom to Kaleb and Jacob : Caeden Ashlyn : and our angel baby ,:,
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#14 of 40 Old 02-11-2007, 07:23 PM
 
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I have a 3.5yo boy. We have been playing restaurant a lot lately. He has a lot of pretend food and a little kitchen so we shop, cook and serve the food to our "customers".

We put cushions on the floor and pretend we are frogs jumping on lily pads (this is a really good workout for me if I jump with both feet together).

We go outside every day even though it has been below zero a lot. If it is really cold it is just for 30 minutes in a sheltered area, but today it is about 15 degrees so went for a long walk in the forest near our house.

We do a lot of art projects. Today we made valentine collages for his preschool friends.

He loves washing dishes and getting to use the sprayer. Of course I usually have a pretty wet (but clean) kitchen floor when he is done.

And most importantly I make sure I set aside time where my son has my full attention and I follow his lead. He is at such a creative and curious stage in his life so his interests vary a lot from day to day. It is hard for me to pretict what direction his brain is going. Somedays he just wants to play with cars and the next day he wants me to read to him about the human body and what is inside us.

For me, I find that if I plan something and then he isn't in the mood, then I end up feeling frustrated. So I spend more time following his lead on play.

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#15 of 40 Old 02-12-2007, 12:02 AM
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Use shaving cream and water in bowls for a "car wash". We run all the matchbox cars, etc through piles of shaving cream then rinse them off in the water. Repeat. We do this at the kitchen table. It's definitely a mess, but just shaving cream and water so it cleans up easily.

Cook. DS adores cooking. Anything. Baking is great, but really he's happy just getting to help measure the rice and water for the rice cooker. We have a great picture recipe cook book called Pretend Soup. He loves to pour what I've measured, stir, roll dough out, etc.

Rice and beans. I keep them in an empty yogurt container and occasionally get them out along with bowls and measuring cups and spoons and a funnel. Again a bit a of a mess, but we do it on the kitchen and I can just sweep the floor up with a broom at the end.
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#16 of 40 Old 02-12-2007, 04:37 AM
 
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Another book with fun activities is The Mother's Almanac.
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#17 of 40 Old 02-12-2007, 09:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by straighthaircurly View Post
For me, I find that if I plan something and then he isn't in the mood, then I end up feeling frustrated. So I spend more time following his lead on play.
Good point. I would probably feel frustrated if I was planning on something too. I'm used to following her lead, but it's tough lately with the babies consuming my time & energy. Maybe I'll try to have some of these ideas on hand to offer/pull out, but not so planned that I'm counting on doing it so I end up frustrated if she's not interested.

Keep the ideas coming! Love the car wash, and the frog jumping.
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#18 of 40 Old 02-12-2007, 11:37 AM
 
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Anything to do with crafts used to get mine going at that age. Have scissors, tape, glue, craft paper, glitter, stickers, paper, etc. anything you can do a craft with. There are lots of free online crafts you can print out as well. Oh and don't forget play-doh. Most kids that age love that stuff too.

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#19 of 40 Old 02-12-2007, 01:08 PM
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We have always done a lot of art and clay. I have a huge stash of paper, markers, crayons, stickers, glue, feathers, confetti, puff balls, popsicle sticks, and fake eyes as well as finger and water paints. She has a blast doing free style art. We also have a kid stamp set but she mostly uses it to do handprints and it takes a long time to wash off but it is fun. If you lay down newspaper on the table and have her do art stuff on that it makes for an easy clean up.
We also enjoy walks to our park and trips to places like the zoo or even the mall on some days. If there is a zoo in your area check on a yearly pass, they are sometimes very cheap and last year round and if you travel you can get in for free in zoos that participate in some sort of friend zoo program.
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#20 of 40 Old 02-12-2007, 03:54 PM
 
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puppets!!
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#21 of 40 Old 02-12-2007, 06:04 PM
 
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Ice cube painting (mix 2/3 paint and 1/3 water and freeze in ice cube tray).

Get out some dried beans or rice (or flour if you're really brave ) and let the kids use their construction vehicles. I give each child a cookie sheet with short sides to help contain the mess.

Move the train tracks to a new location and run them under the sofa and around the furniture for lots of fun "tunnels".

Bundle up and go for a winter picnic. Unless you're in the northern midwest right now, it's probably warm enough to do. Just bundle up! If you have to get up and do jumping jacks to warm up every few bites, well, that's fun for the kids and good for you!

If you have an unfinished basement with a floor drain, pull out the wading pool. Fill it up with some warm water and let them splash around just like outside.

Or fill up the wading pool with dried beans or rice and let them use their water toys in their. Small beans will run through funnels, etc.

Set up an obstacle course.

Do a treasure hunt. Draw a map of your living room or the kids' room (showing bed, sofa, nightstand, door, window, etc.) and show them how to read it. Mark a secret spot on the map, and then when they find it, they'll find the next map, and so on, leading to a secret surprise or even just a picnic lunch or something.
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#22 of 40 Old 02-13-2007, 01:07 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jenniferg72 View Post

Here are a few books with ideas:

Preschoolers Busy Book by Trish Kuffner
Cheap book, with LOTS of fun ideas with things you have around the house. Highly recommend this book
http://www.amazon.com/Preschoolers-B...e=UTF8&s=books

Preschool Art by Mary Ann Kohl

My absolute favorite art book. Has lots of open ended art ideas.
http://www.amazon.com/Preschool-Art-...e=UTF8&s=books

Making Make Believe by MaryAnn Kohl - Has lots of ideas for silly things to make and do and props to encourge make believe
http://www.amazon.com/Making-Make-Be...e=UTF8&s=books

I have some more ideas that I'll post later.
THANK YOU for these!
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#23 of 40 Old 02-13-2007, 06:43 PM
 
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We do a lot of the things mentioned here, but a few additional ones:

Every night after bath is time to jump on the bed. We do somersaults, jump, play ring a round the rosie all on the bed. And then we end up wrestling and tickling. The kids really look forward to that time after bath.

Another things the kids have been doing lately is getting suitcases, packing them with clothes and toys, and going on pretend trips. They love to wheel the suitcases all around the house and then come back and tell me how their trip went.

Games - we have been playing tons of games lately. Candy Land, Trouble, connect 4, Old Maid, etc. Every night my DS wants to play games for at least an hour.

Last night we played Simon Says.

We play hockey - we get some plastic golf clubs and use the checkers from Connect 4 and pretend they are the pucks.

My kids like to to pretend cook with real food. i give them my pots and some crackers/cereal/other dry food and they mix it all up and put it in muffin cups. They also use my muffin pans with play-doh.

We play basketball and tennis in the house.
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#24 of 40 Old 02-14-2007, 08:46 PM
 
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One thing that dd has enjoyed this winter is a cookie sheet with ice shapes on it. I froze water into shapes, like a small bundt pan, some molded plastic packaging material, little bowls, etc. Then I put them on a cookie sheet with edges, add a few "regular" ice cubes and pour some water on it. She likes to do science experiments with it or play with little toys on it. It is usually good for an hour of play! Then it is back into the freezer to re-freeze for next time. We call it the iceberg and it can last weeks, changing shape as it melts and I add new pieces to it. When we got some snow, I brought in some of that and added it too.

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#25 of 40 Old 02-15-2007, 10:21 AM
 
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subbing. great post.
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#26 of 40 Old 02-15-2007, 01:25 PM
 
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One thing my dd likes to do is play "hairdresser." She just loves the lady who cuts her hair so she likes to pretend she's Titi (the hairdresser's name.) We use a towel, an unplugged hairdryer, something she can use for pretend scissors. I sit in front of her and she "washes" my hair, "dries" it, "cuts" it, etc..it's really fun.

Someone (sorry can't remember who) mentioned cooking. DD loves to measure stuff. Yesterday we set out all the pots for drums and we do a lot of music and dancing. Basically, dd is not into any toys she has in her room - it's all about pretend play. It's hard for me to get into sometimes, but when I do I find I end up having a really good time with her and feeling more connected.
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#27 of 40 Old 02-15-2007, 02:46 PM
 
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For the OP who has little babes, my DS and I have been looking through magazines and cutting out pictures of babies to make a collage (he's not great at cutting but loves gluing!) to hang on the wall near the place we change the baby's diaper. Baby LOVES to look at the babies, and DS feels so proud of making the baby happy!

We also love to practice cutting, gluing, and cloring by making puppets from paper lunch bags. Yesterday we made owls and then we ran around the house having them SWOOP down and eat the mouse...munch munch! (The mouse getting eaten doesn't bother my DS, though it may freak out some kids)

Grocery store is great fun with our recycling--boxes of crackers and cereal, plus some really nice wooden play food MIL bought us. It's hysterical, but DS's fave toys lately are brown paper grocery bags.
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#28 of 40 Old 02-15-2007, 03:07 PM
 
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Use brown craft paper (on a roll) and trace your child, then let them paint "themselves" on the floor, it may be realistic, it may be abstract, it will be messy but the larger then life canvas for them is awesome.

Kids yoga videos from the ligrary are a big hit around here.

WE made shakey eggs out of easter eggs, rice and colored duct tape (I didn't trust the glue we tried ) then danced to all of our kids music (we love laurie berkner and lisa loab oh and they might be giants) You can also play shake egg Simon Says.

make an "I spy" bottle out of an old water bottle some small objects (paper clip, marble, pen cap, penny, tiny toys etc) and rice/bird seed then glue the cap on, it's a fun toy for car rides and waiting rooms...two birds one stone, KWIM?

When it's sunny and not so frigid (since it's cold here. I'll assume it could be there) take your child out in the morning and trace their shadow (be sure to trace their feet!) with chalk, let them draw for a while then in the afternoon take them back out to trace their shadow again, you can talk about the sun and the movement of the earth. This is a good project for 3-10 year olds, there's so many levels to teach here.

Sorry as a hoomeschooler with preschoolers I love to share and learn new things, great thread!

I just remembered, we clean and keep our plastic peanut butter jars, they are great since thet're clear and the lids screw on. A couple weeks ago DH gave each kid one and let them put some treasures in. The kids (20 months, 3 and 6years) each thought taht was cool for 2 days. It lead to a sort of "show and tell"

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#29 of 40 Old 02-15-2007, 06:33 PM
 
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ds1 is 3.5yo and he loves to play "airplane". I put him up in the air balanced on my feet (me laying down on my back on floor). I hold on to both of his hands and he pretends he's flying. Then, we hit "turbulence" and I start shaking my feet around causing him to giggle from side to side, then we "CRASH" (I pull my feet out from under him and he slides down my legs and onto my stomach. ) Then ds1 pretends to "fix" the airplane and back up he goes again. He laughs SO hard and I get a great leg workout.

Steph, wife to C, mama to O :, E , and I :.
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