A Funny Filler: Pipe Cleaners

About a month ago, I gave you all an idea for how to fill the dreaded gap time in your days, like mid-morning before lunch, after nap but before dinner.  Those times when it can be so tempting to turn on the television because you need the kids to do something quietly and independently so you can prepare a meal or fold some laundry, but they don’t seem to want to do anything but attach themselves to you.  Unfortunately, that was a warm weather filler, and I need something for the indoor day that feels like it’ll never end.

Enter Hands On: As We Grow, a brilliant site with lots of engaging and simple activities that can help you fill the daily gap.  It focuses on preschool but there is always room for adjustments.  When I saw the link to this activity on my Facebook wall, I immediately saved it in my crafty bookmark folder and waited for the perfect opportunity to see if my kids would be as immersed in this activity as Jamie’s boys were.  And, as you will see, my kids were even more so!

I thought this activity would buy me fifteen minutes of freedom, but to my surprise, they played together nicely for 50 minutes!

So how do you attain this parenting period of grace?  Simplicity is the key, my friends.  Here’s what you need to do, but of course, if simplicity is key, improvisation is the spice of life.

Materials: colander, pipe cleaners, pom poms, spoons, bowl

Directions: give your kids the colander and the pipe cleaners.  Do nothing.  Let them explore with their fine-motor-loving fingers and figure out what to do next.

They will surprise and delight you.

After a while, when the natives have been there and done that, change it up a bit.  It only takes one new ingredient , like pom poms, to create Entertainment Soup.

I gave them a bag of pom poms and one spoon each.  Soon they were mixing soup and tasting it with their spoons; it was especially great to see Em engaging in such imaginative play.

Inevitably, fighting began.  Two kids, two spoons, one colander.  So I added a bowl and they began pouring the imaginary soup back in forth into each other’s bowl, culminating in a pom pom food fight.

They were playing together.  With each other.  A miracle.  Suddenly, without realizing it, I found myself back at the table, playing with them, laughing with them, instead of busy doing the other things that I thought were so important to accomplish during filler time.  Instead of being a “filler” activity, it became just an activity.  Family fun.  And with these two becoming closer friends, maybe I can start thinking about those in-between times as just time for them to establish the kind of relationship I hope they will have.  Move over filler time; it’s time for family fun.

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