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What do you do for structured play?

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Hi. I have a 2 year old son and a 4 year old daughter. 

With them being so young, we don't use any sort of formal curriculum yet. My 4 year old daughter loves Starfall and practices math and phonics on there for about an hour a day. My 2 year old obviously lacks the fine motor skills to control the mouse on my laptop, so he uses my iPad. He plays a counting game or does flash cards on the iPad, for short periods of time, usually when he wants to be like his sissy.

I know that at this age they should be mostly learning through play. However, after we do our usual activities of art, playdough, computer time, my kids melt down. With structure, they are wonderful. I am a creature of habit and love my schedules and I think that they do too.

I was wondering if anyone could give me some ideas for stuctured play? So that my kids don't totally go crazy and start running in circles. We also go to the beach and the park very often.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions! I have some field trips planned for later this summer, but I need some tips for days when we can't go out beacuse of illness, weather, etc. =)


--Lindsey 

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by on Mar. 29, 2012 at 7:49 PM
Replies (31-37):
chbamb2001
by on Mar. 31, 2012 at 9:47 PM
1 mom liked this

I have the opposite problem. I have a 4 year old daugther and a 2 year old son and we have a lot of unstructured play but little structured lessons. I have been using various textbooks and preschool workbooks over the years and work at my daughter's pace. She knows all her upper/lower case letters, her numbers to 20, all her shapes and colors. She loves StarFall and begs me to teach her to read. :) Still trying to find the best way ie her learning style for the reading. She hates writing but loves to draw, etc. She plays very well with her brother. In fact, he is her little shadow in everything! He blew me away the other day by pointing to the letters on my laptop and naming them and/or saying them phonetically! T O Ssss Hah I B A. I was stunned because we have not spent any structured time going over the alphabet with him. We just put on a lot of Leap Frog DVDs in the background and go about our day. I know that I am going to need a schedule and better routine in the future with teaching both of them.

As for running in circles, my children literally run in circles at least once a day. :) I join them about half the time and that seems to stave off fighting. I have found that most of the fights (they do fight occasionally) are when they are tired or not feeling good. I use the "calm down corner" from America's Super Nanny and it works wonders. Afterwards, they are directed to individual playtime away from each other. It is usually my 4 year old getting all worked up and not recognizing that her little brother is overwhelmed and can't keep up with her.

StrictMomof2
by on Apr. 1, 2012 at 8:34 AM
1 mom liked this

 My four year old LOVES http://www.abcmouse.com/. We have also enjoyed Headsprout with all of our kids. There are so many others, but I can't recall them off the top of my head.

typingCome check out my blog at http://www.tidbitsofexperience.com/. I'd love to have your feedback there.  Also it lets you know more about me and my family. Hope your having a great day.

jen2150
by Silver Member on Apr. 1, 2012 at 10:46 AM

I didn't  really structured play time too much.  I  had places for things they love.  Like a reading corner, one quarter of our living room is lego city, I have large pictures on my wall for them to color, a 30 inch by 10 feet dry erase paper on my wall for them to draw on, and a desk set up for them to take electronics apart.  When mine were young I had what I called table time.  We start with just doing 5 minutes and then just increases it as they got older.  We used puzzles, art, workbooks, play doh, table games to learn together at the table.  They got to pick what things we did.  They had so much fun.  Just follow their lead.  Another thing I did was get a giant foam geography floor puzzle that we would put together.  When we finished my boys would drive their hot wheels to different destinations.  

As far as fighting goes I simply taught my kids how to resolve conflict without fighting or yelling.  My kids don't fight over toys but very rarely.  If there is fight over any toy then that toy goes away till the next day.  My kids sometimes get upset or don't do things the way they are taught.  I have just dealt with it early on and as they got older they have become better at getting along.  It is a continual process though as they get older new challenges have arisen.  I highly recommend having a mini trampoline in the house.  It has really helped my boys release a lot of energy when the need arises.  Good luck

kylismomma
by on Apr. 1, 2012 at 8:26 PM

We have a mini trampoline! :) We need 2 I guess, because that is always hard for them to share as well. 

I think maybe it is just the older girl/younger boy dynamic. I was the exact same way with my little brother...now we are fine. We haven't fought since we were about 10 and 7. We just argued a lot when we were younger. I deal with it when it happens, but I have found that a flexible schedule and some structure goes a long way with my children.

Thanks for the ideas, that geography puzzle sounds so fun! My kids would love that. Where did you get the 10 foot dry erase paper? That sounds amazing. We have a cardboard castle that we put on our wall instead of putting it together for them to color. They love that, but it might be nice to change it up and dry erase markers are exciting for them. 

Quoting jen2150:

I didn't  really structured play time too much.  I  had places for things they love.  Like a reading corner, one quarter of our living room is lego city, I have large pictures on my wall for them to color, a 30 inch by 10 feet dry erase paper on my wall for them to draw on, and a desk set up for them to take electronics apart.  When mine were young I had what I called table time.  We start with just doing 5 minutes and then just increases it as they got older.  We used puzzles, art, workbooks, play doh, table games to learn together at the table.  They got to pick what things we did.  They had so much fun.  Just follow their lead.  Another thing I did was get a giant foam geography floor puzzle that we would put together.  When we finished my boys would drive their hot wheels to different destinations.  

As far as fighting goes I simply taught my kids how to resolve conflict without fighting or yelling.  My kids don't fight over toys but very rarely.  If there is fight over any toy then that toy goes away till the next day.  My kids sometimes get upset or don't do things the way they are taught.  I have just dealt with it early on and as they got older they have become better at getting along.  It is a continual process though as they get older new challenges have arisen.  I highly recommend having a mini trampoline in the house.  It has really helped my boys release a lot of energy when the need arises.  Good luck


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jen2150
by Silver Member on Apr. 2, 2012 at 8:41 AM

I got it off of ebay for $20 shipped.  I would check ebay and amazon as well.  Best investment ever.  It sticks to the wall.  My kids love drawing on it and when they were little it was their favorite place to write their letters.  Good luck

Quoting kylismomma:

We have a mini trampoline! :) We need 2 I guess, because that is always hard for them to share as well. 

I think maybe it is just the older girl/younger boy dynamic. I was the exact same way with my little brother...now we are fine. We haven't fought since we were about 10 and 7. We just argued a lot when we were younger. I deal with it when it happens, but I have found that a flexible schedule and some structure goes a long way with my children.

Thanks for the ideas, that geography puzzle sounds so fun! My kids would love that. Where did you get the 10 foot dry erase paper? That sounds amazing. We have a cardboard castle that we put on our wall instead of putting it together for them to color. They love that, but it might be nice to change it up and dry erase markers are exciting for them. 

Quoting jen2150:

I didn't  really structured play time too much.  I  had places for things they love.  Like a reading corner, one quarter of our living room is lego city, I have large pictures on my wall for them to color, a 30 inch by 10 feet dry erase paper on my wall for them to draw on, and a desk set up for them to take electronics apart.  When mine were young I had what I called table time.  We start with just doing 5 minutes and then just increases it as they got older.  We used puzzles, art, workbooks, play doh, table games to learn together at the table.  They got to pick what things we did.  They had so much fun.  Just follow their lead.  Another thing I did was get a giant foam geography floor puzzle that we would put together.  When we finished my boys would drive their hot wheels to different destinations.  

As far as fighting goes I simply taught my kids how to resolve conflict without fighting or yelling.  My kids don't fight over toys but very rarely.  If there is fight over any toy then that toy goes away till the next day.  My kids sometimes get upset or don't do things the way they are taught.  I have just dealt with it early on and as they got older they have become better at getting along.  It is a continual process though as they get older new challenges have arisen.  I highly recommend having a mini trampoline in the house.  It has really helped my boys release a lot of energy when the need arises.  Good luck



rowansmum
by on Apr. 2, 2012 at 8:52 AM
Playing nice is a critical skill for them to learn and unfortunately it seems to be the hardest. My boys fight too :( however focus on empathy there. Great lesson. "Rowan, I know you're frustrated because wyatt xyz but hitting hurts. We don't hurt each other, please use your words. Apologize, give hugs" done.

Kids need to learn to amuse themselves and to sort out issues. I feel that is one of the best lessons we can teach, patience, compromise and conflict resolution. You need to give them the opportunity or the fighting will never stop.


Quoting kylismomma:

Haha oh believe my I try to! I TRY to be go with the flow...though I admit it is hard for me. 

I don't mind the chaos if they are having fun or being creative, my main problem is they literally melt down. They phyically fight- hit, pull hair, etc. Then we spend time talking about why that happened, why we don't do that...I guess I just wish they could play without getting TOO crazy.

But then again, they are 2 and 4 so I suppose it's normal. :) I just hate to see them fight, because then no one is having fun, mommy included haha.  

When I say structured play I guess I meant play with a purpose...learning games? I guess they do that naturally. They are super into volcanoes and dinosaurs and a lot of our play time has to do with that.  

Quoting oredeb:

 hi lindsey!!


oh boy i must be old! ive never heard of structured play?


its ok if the kids run around in circles! there using their imaginations!! its good to let them be creative by them selves! maybe they need to get use to doing nothing and figuring out what to do themselves. let them melt down thats kinda creative also! maybe let them play together creatively, using their imaginations and you not having anything planned, let em learn to be creative by themselves


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kylismomma
by on Apr. 2, 2012 at 6:25 PM

Thank you! That sounds so cool, off to look for one now. :)

Quoting jen2150:

I got it off of ebay for $20 shipped.  I would check ebay and amazon as well.  Best investment ever.  It sticks to the wall.  My kids love drawing on it and when they were little it was their favorite place to write their letters.  Good luck

Quoting kylismomma:

We have a mini trampoline! :) We need 2 I guess, because that is always hard for them to share as well. 

I think maybe it is just the older girl/younger boy dynamic. I was the exact same way with my little brother...now we are fine. We haven't fought since we were about 10 and 7. We just argued a lot when we were younger. I deal with it when it happens, but I have found that a flexible schedule and some structure goes a long way with my children.

Thanks for the ideas, that geography puzzle sounds so fun! My kids would love that. Where did you get the 10 foot dry erase paper? That sounds amazing. We have a cardboard castle that we put on our wall instead of putting it together for them to color. They love that, but it might be nice to change it up and dry erase markers are exciting for them. 

Quoting jen2150:

I didn't  really structured play time too much.  I  had places for things they love.  Like a reading corner, one quarter of our living room is lego city, I have large pictures on my wall for them to color, a 30 inch by 10 feet dry erase paper on my wall for them to draw on, and a desk set up for them to take electronics apart.  When mine were young I had what I called table time.  We start with just doing 5 minutes and then just increases it as they got older.  We used puzzles, art, workbooks, play doh, table games to learn together at the table.  They got to pick what things we did.  They had so much fun.  Just follow their lead.  Another thing I did was get a giant foam geography floor puzzle that we would put together.  When we finished my boys would drive their hot wheels to different destinations.  

As far as fighting goes I simply taught my kids how to resolve conflict without fighting or yelling.  My kids don't fight over toys but very rarely.  If there is fight over any toy then that toy goes away till the next day.  My kids sometimes get upset or don't do things the way they are taught.  I have just dealt with it early on and as they got older they have become better at getting along.  It is a continual process though as they get older new challenges have arisen.  I highly recommend having a mini trampoline in the house.  It has really helped my boys release a lot of energy when the need arises.  Good luck




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