The Fun Jar

February 12, 2011

When I was an undergraduate student, my elementary education professors drilled into me the mantra: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." 
I learned the lesson!  Planning isn't just for teachers - it's for everyone.  I've found that I have good ideas for things to do with my kids (or husband, or friends, or family), it's just sometimes hard to think of them on the spur of the moment.  (Especially when my kid is writhing about on the floor in the afternoon because she's so bored, and we can't go anywhere while the baby is napping.)  This is why I love my fun jar.
Once every few weeks, I sit down and make a list of some fun things that my three year old can do with me in the afternoon.  You can alter this to your own situation, eg. dates for you and your husband, Saturday activities for the family, things for your kids to do alone or with friends after school, etc.  My criteria are as follows:

  • fun
  • cheap
  • requires little preparation
  • novel - something that we have rarely or never done before

1. Collect the ideas.  The Internet obviously is a great place for ideas.  I love looking at Preschool Express.  Every month there is a new activity calendar posted for both toddlers and preschoolers. 

Here are some things that we've done in the past:

  • Giving the ice cubes a ride on the slide.
  • Building a "snowman" inside.
  • Making rainbow ice cubes.
  • Reading new books that I put on hold at the library.
  • Baking something sweet.
  • Making a seasonal art project.
  • Playing with water and sponges

2. Make the container.  This month I used stickers and cardstock to decorate a mason jar.  In January, I wrote the ideas on the back of foam dollarstore shapes and stuck them to the wall.  I was inspired by this blog post.

3. Decide how and when to use your ideas.  For me, I need some extra fun in the afternoons.  I've decided that I can come up with a million ideas and let my daughter choose as many as she wants, but it may work for you to just use one a day (or week).

4. Have Fun!  (Obviously.)

Click here to download my Winter Fun Jar List. 
You should also check out my March and Spring lists.

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