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7 Things to Keep your Toddler Occupied When they Have to be Quiet - By Kate Phillips, Rowville Teacher

As a parent with small children, the times I used to dread most were loooong waits in small spaces. Doctor’s surgeries, bus stops, appointments… Places where your little one needs to learn to mark time and wait quietly, without running around, and you don’t have a book or toy handy. Here are some tips for making do with what you have, and engaging your child with the world around you.

  • “I Spy” with a twist. Look around the room and find 7 things that you also have at your house.
  • Hold out your hands, palms up, and compare the lines on your hands. Trace them with your fingers and see if there are any pictures or shapes you recognise.
  • If there is a shadow on the floor from sun through the window, place a pencil or object at the edge of the shadow and see how the shadow moves over time.
  • Using a phone or a watch with a second hand, decide what action you want to do. Maybe jumping, nodding your head, blinking, standing up. Use the timer to do this every 30 seconds. Then every 20 seconds, every 10 and every 5 seconds.
  • Clapping games are so good for children’s development. Language skills, beat, rhythm, gross and fine motor skills, counting and improvisation are all developed through clapping games. Remember the ones you did at school in the playground? A Sailor Went to Sea? Miss Mary Mack? Simple ones can be taught to children as young as 3, and once they have a few under their belt, 4 and 5 year olds can handle more complex ones.
  • Memory games also good for cognitive development and sequencing, and are great boredom busters. Classic games like “I went to the shops and I bought…", with each person repeating the last items and adding one of their own until the list is so long that someone forgets! Even children as young as 2 can play this with a series of things that they can see. For example, “In this doctor’s office, I can see a chair.” The next person sees a “chair and a door”. If you move in one direction around the room, it’s easier for them to catch on.
  • Remember Mr Squiggle, the man from the moon with a pencil for a nose? Ask your toddler to draw a squiggle on a piece of paper. Just a little one, not a detailed drawing. Don’t let them tell you what it is. Using the same pencil, try and make a drawing out of it and explain what you drew. Warning! This game could last for hours, so get your creative hat on! You can take turns with your child, and it’s often hilarious.
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