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<p>I have a bright, busy almost-4-year-old son who's at home with me full-time.  I also have twin, special-needs sons in high school and a son in middle school who requires some special attention in his own right...plus a husband and a puppy.  And it's winter.</p>
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<p>SO...especially on school nights when the older 3 boys are home and need help with school work, PLUS I need to make dinner, etc...I need ways to keep the little one occupied somewhat independently (<em>aside</em> from TV and computer games).</p>
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<p>I don't frequent this forum, so sorry if this post is repetitive, but let's share one or two favorite ideas for keeping a kid this age busy while you do housework.  Let's try to stick to things a little more out-of-the-ordinary than puzzles and coloring books, since I'm sure we all know about those, already.</p>
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<p>Here's mine (kooky as it sounds):  Since my son was a young 3, when I'm doing something sedentary (like sewing, or working on the computer), I'll let him sit near me and give him my tomato-style pincushion.  He likes to organize the pins by color and size and clean/sharpen them, with the little strawberry sand-bag that's attached.  It's actually a great fine-motor skill, if your little one is calm enough not to hurt themselves.  If I can sit on the bed or a couch (as opposed to a table), he'll stick the pins into the cushions or mattress, to make a shape or letter, then put them back in the pincushion.  I can consistently get a good 20-30 minutes, out of this.</p>
 

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<p>One idea that I loved, and I think I may have gotten it from Mothering, is washing pennies - bowl of soapy water, rag, bowl of pennies, clean towel. My DD1 loved sorting "jobs" like you describe. With her it was my beads and when she got older cleaning out drawers by sorting the items. I bet he would like sorting a big change jar! If he is bored with coloring books, my kids and I always liked the Ed Emberly drawing books. I think my kids were around 4 when they started liking books on tape/CD/podcast. They still listen to them before bed or just relaxing in their room, and we often listen to these as a family on trips, too. Maybe there is something he could do to help with dinner? Fold napkins, put cutlery on the table, tear up lettuce for salad, fold kitchen towels, etc.</p>
 

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<p>Indoor "sandbox."  My 4 year old is obsessed with pouring the rice back and forth between cups.  I made this last weekend and all of my kids love it(4, 7, and 11) but the 4 year old will literally spend an hour or more completely absorbed with pouring it back and forth and digging her hands in and burying and finding pennies in it.  <a href="http://domesticsimplicity.com/2010/03/30/playingwithbeansandric/" target="_blank">http://domesticsimplicity.com/2010/03/30/playingwithbeansandric/</a></p>
 

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<p>If you have such an item on hand and the space for it, setting up a tent is a real winner.  I am sure you could also go the low-tech route of a sheet over a few chairs.  My 3.5 year old loves the tent, and it is a life saver when I am trying to make dinner and older Dd is doing homework.</p>
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<p>Fill a bowl in the sink with soapy water - give your kid a scrub brush.  If you have any toys that are waterproof (fisher price, or whatever), they can swim in the bowl and receive baths.</p>
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<p>My Dd's preschool did something the other day that I am trying to get the courage to try, as she loved it so much - sprayed shaving cream on the table and let the kids finger paint.  Apparently it wipes up easily and leaves the table rather clean.  I think this is an activity needing more supervision perhaps, but sounds pretty fun.</p>
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<p>Have your kiddo put on a swim suit and lie a beach towel on the floor.  If you have a shovel/pail, produce those.  Beloved stuffed animals can accompany kiddo to the "beach."  Eat snack or lunch from a lunch cooler on the towel, as a picnic.</p>
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<p>I know I can think of more but must run; will try to add more ideas later.  Eager to see what others come up with too.</p>
 

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<p>I don't have a preschooler, but I do work with them...</p>
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<p>1. The indoor sandbox is a great idea. You can fill a shallow tub with with rice, uncooked pasta, packing peanuts, shredded paper, gravel (although this can be noisy), dry beans, etc. Give DC some measuring cups, some handheld gardening tools, and some things to hide (shells, nuts, or whatever). I swear some kids could do this forever.</p>
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<p>2. Lightbright</p>
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<p>3. A "car wash" for dirty cars. Put a bowl of soapy water, a bowl of clean water, and a few dry towels on the kitchen floor and let DC go for it.</p>
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<p>4. Cardboard box forts - when I was little I loved making these. My dad would bring home a fairly big cardboard box. I would use a crayon to draw a door and a couple of windows. My dad would cut them out with a utility knife (only make 2 cuts for the door so it can open and close). Then I would play in it all afternoon.</p>
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<p>5. The game memory/ concentration</p>
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<p>Similar to the sandbox, I used to set up a baking tin, rice and  little hot wheel trucks and bulldozers and my son would push the cars thru the stuff.</p>
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<p>Deck of cards and house building.</p>
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<p>Pillow, chairs and blanket forts in the living room.</p>
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<p>Tape, a rug and little cars. Tape roads onto the carpet, make a city using blocks, Drive the cars on the tape roads and around the city.</p>
 

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<p>My daughter just turned 3, but here are our ideas:</p>
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<p>She has a bin of glues (glitter glue, etc) and a bin of things to glue (pom poms, beads, buttons, sequins, candy hearts, etc). She can sit and glue things on paper forever!! </p>
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<p>Shoe laces with beads or pipe cleaner with beads to string on.</p>
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<p>Like the rice, we have a big bean bin. Big enough to sit in. With lots of spoons, measuring cups, etc. We also just dyed rice different colors. I also have a faux jewel bin - I found a cheap bag of faux jewels at Joanne Fabrics. I also put a bunch of big buttons in that one. </p>
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<p>Water beads. We have another bin filled with them. Google them if you don't know what they are.</p>
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<p>Make a light table/box. Then you can give them different things to explore on the light. </p>
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<p>Playdough - cupcake tins, mini cookie sheets, all sorts of cutters and rollers, etc. </p>
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<p>She adores magna tiles. But we don't have any yet. </p>
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<p>And my least favorite, she loves the Cupcakes app on the ipad. </p>
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<p>Cindy</p>
 

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<p>are you insane i would never let my 3 year old son play or sharpen pins he could get hurt i would rather put him infront of a learning show or listen to music an have him sit by me </p>
 

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<p>Beading using fine guage wire is a good quiet activity. Make sure you choose the right wire strength or it can be too difficult. If they cannot manage the wire than a pipe cleaner will work with a bigger bead.</p>
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<p>Also, DD likes to wash all of the vegetables really well using her little scrubby brush <a href="http://www.forsmallhands.com/kitchen/serving-clean-up/mini-dish-brush" target="_blank">http://www.forsmallhands.com/kitchen/serving-clean-up/mini-dish-brush</a> and set the table and pour the water for all water cups <a href="http://www.forsmallhands.com/kitchen/serving-clean-up/glass-pitcher-with-lid" target="_blank">http://www.forsmallhands.com/kitchen/serving-clean-up/glass-pitcher-with-lid</a></p>
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<p>bathtub or sink plus some duplo blocks to be washed</p>
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<p>We often freeze a tub of of plastic animals or duplo people in a scene with about 1/2 - 1 inch water. The kids then rescue them using a butter knife. This is usually a summer outdoor activity but could be inside too.</p>
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<p>When I really need some not very supervised play for her we get out the learning tower/various paints and strip her down. It requires a bath after but it will keep her solidly occupied for at least an hour with almost no contact from me.</p>
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<p>I am pretty sure that organized pins for my mom when I was a kid. That sounds like a good activity I'll have to try it.</p>
 

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<p>I really like the elastic beading cord (like hair elastics) and pony beads for DD.  The cord is stiff enough for her to poke through the beads.  We have ones with several sizes of holes and this can occupy her for half hour or longer.</p>
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<p>We also do the freezing plastic toys in ice thing and have had a few casualties (to the toys) but it's a great activity.</p>
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<p>Lego is a big hit.</p>
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<p>Also, a tiny bottle (like an airplane liquor bottle) and access to a sink.  DD will fill the bottle and then use it to transport water to her play kitchen sink.  She can do that for a straight half hour.</p>
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<p>I also let DD play with my pins while I sew.  She mostly just sticks them in a pillow or a piece of foam and then takes them out again.  She's never so much as pricked a finger, and she has been allowed to play with my pins since she was 18 months old.  Every kid is different, though, and for some this might not be an appropriate activity.</p>
 

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<p>Sorting all the coins in our coin jar (I usually let DD keep a few for her piggy bank)</p>
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<p>Perler beads (be prepared for possible messes!)</p>
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<p>Usborne sticker books: these aren't cheap so they are kept on a high shelf and brought down when I deem it necessary (ie. at my wit's end!)</p>
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<p>Flashlight tag, if it is at night time. WIth just one child, I randomly move the flashlight around while I am doing something else, and she has to try to 'catch' it.<br>
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<p>subbing!</p>
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<p>found this <a href="http://www.productiveparenting.com/aspx/ActivityLibrary.aspx?aid=3A#" target="_blank">http://www.productiveparenting.com/aspx/ActivityLibrary.aspx?aid=3A#</a></p>
 

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<p>I have a few activities pinned that I can share here. </p>
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<p>A <a href="http://www.the-acts-of-grace.com/2011/03/diy-busy-wallet.html" target="_blank">busy wallet</a> -- just fill an old wallet with a variety of things -- paper, stickers, pencil, coins, etc. and let them explore. </p>
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<p><a href="http://www.allfortheboys.com/home/2011/8/25/move-over-paper-airplanes.html" target="_blank">Strawplanes</a>. These are awesome -- they fly so straight and far! My DS had a project last year where each student had to come up with an item to sell using their desk as their storefront, and he sold strawplanes and sold a ton! They're super easy to make and are really really fun. I like to use milkshake straws (I got a huge bag of them at Bed Bath & Beyond) because they're thick and don't have the bendy part. (The blog this link takes you to is good in general -- she posts lots of kid crafts.)</p>
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<p>This site has a bunch of <a href="http://pre-schoolplay.blogspot.com/2011/09/discovery-bottles.html" target="_blank">discovery bottle</a> ideas. We've only tried the one where you cut up pipe cleaners, put them in an empty plastic bottle, then use a magnet to manipulate them from the outside -- my kids loved it! After a while they dumped the pipe cleaners out of the bottle and just used them directly with the magnet. </p>
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<p>I haven't tried <a href="http://media-cache-ec3.pinterest.com/upload/95420085824942313_8hsUZrYI.jpg" target="_blank">this one</a> yet but it looks fun. Fill a big shallow dish with baking soda, then let your child use an eye dropper to drop colored vinegar into it and watch it fizz. </p>
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<p>Another <a href="http://www.momto2poshlildivas.com/2011/10/kindergarten-fun-sight-word-discovery.html" target="_blank">discovery bottle</a>, with sight words in a bottle of rice. For pre-readers you could do upper and lowercase letters or something. </p>
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<p>Make a <a href="http://www.pinreach.com/pin/287456388686641620" target="_blank">laserbeam hallway</a> out of crepe paper or yarn. I have the Mission Impossible and James Bond themes on my iPod, and DS likes to do this while I play spy music. </p>
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<p>I also like the site <a href="http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/" target="_blank">No Time for Flashcards</a> for fun, easy crafts and projects for kids. </p>
 

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<p>We just found a lite brite at a garage sale for $1 and it has kept my 4 year old son busy for hours!  </p>
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<p>We also have contests to see who can build the longest tracks (for trains, cars, lego).  We have hardwood floors and he can build from one end of the house to the other end.  He's responsible for building them track and then I will race him when it's all done.  Then, he can re build the track.  He uses a ton of different things to build.  Love the imagination and creativity!</p>
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<p>He also spends a lot of time outside and LOVES to vacuum my car.  So, I let him. </p>
 
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[link removed my moderator]<br><br><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.mothering.com/community/content/type/61/id/283524/"><img alt="" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="283524" data-type="61" src="http://www.mothering.com/community/content/type/61/id/283524/width/500/height/1000/flags/LL" style="; width: 468px; height: 1000px"></a>
 

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<p>My son is 3. Some things we do at home:</p>
<p>- play with toy trains, cars, motorcycles, etc.</p>
<p>- build with legos or blocks</p>
<p>- do puzzles</p>
<p>- read books</p>
<p>- play easy games like Hi Ho Cherries</p>
<p>- he helps me clean house</p>
<p>- he helps me cook</p>
<p>- paint or draw</p>
<p>- activity book (counting, coloring, etc)</p>
<p>- watch TV or movies</p>
<p>- put on music and have a dance party</p>
<p>- arrange magnets on magnet board</p>
<p>- playdough</p>
<p>- wash the dogs/ brush the cats</p>
<p>- take and print pictures</p>
<p>- beat drums, play triangle, other musical instruments</p>
<p>- dress up</p>
<p>- play castle (it's a doll house for boys)</p>
<p>- call or skype with grandma</p>
<p>- puppets</p>
<p>- pony rides (I'm the pony)</p>
<p>- just talk</p>
 

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<div class="quote-container" data-huddler-embed="/community/t/1343656/lets-list-good-ways-to-keep-3-4-year-olds-busy-indoors/0_50#post_17257203" data-huddler-embed-placeholder="false"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>marsupial-mom</strong> <a href="/community/t/1343656/lets-list-good-ways-to-keep-3-4-year-olds-busy-indoors/0_50#post_17257203"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif"></a><br><br>
My son is 3. Some things we do at home:<br>
- play with toy trains, cars, motorcycles, etc.<br>
- build with legos or blocks<br>
- do puzzles<br>
- read books<br>
- play easy games like Hi Ho Cherries<br>
- he helps me clean house<br>
- he helps me cook<br>
- paint or draw<br>
- activity book (counting, coloring, etc)<br>
- watch TV or movies<br>
- put on music and have a dance party<br>
- arrange magnets on magnet board<br>
- playdough<br>
- wash the dogs/ brush the cats<br>
- take and print pictures<br>
- beat drums, play triangle, other musical instruments<br>
- dress up<br>
- play castle (it's a doll house for boys)<br>
- call or skype with grandma<br>
- puppets<br>
- pony rides (I'm the pony)<br>
- just talk</div>
</div>
<br><br>
hi ho cherrio isnt as simple as you think!! it is actually a really excellent fine motor skills game. Many therapists around the US use it as a therapy tool for children with Autism, Down Syndrome, CP, and other special needs. So, good game choice!!! <img alt="wink1.gif" class="bbcode_smiley" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/wink1.gif">
 
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