Staving Off Boredom

Dawn asked “I am curious if any of you have come across some good books with information about how to educationally entertain your toddler twins during the day. My guys are 16 months and I would like to find ways to add education into the fun mix. I realize they are always learning with everything we do but honestly I think the three of us are bored. I’m looking for inspiration!”

I hear you, Dawn. I know we’re supposed to be our kids’ best teachers, but sometimes it’s hard to be a one-woman show!

I have found a few fun items along the way that have helped pass the hours, helping me to feel that I was contributing to their budding curiosity and ongoing education. At our house, it’s projects and music. When I was feeling energized and ambitious, we tried out new activities. When I was feeling like I needed energy, we would put on the music.

All of the recommendations here come straight from our own home: tried, tested and twin-approved.

You should be able to find these materials at your local library, which I learned to utilize to a whole new level once the kiddos arrived. Our library system offers online access with a hold system so that you can reserve books from across the network and have them delivered to your local branch. Extremely handy.

We’ll start with books. These are broad-theme books with a range of art and play activities. There are so many idea books out there that are wonderful; these are just a few that I personally found, used and loved.

Toddler Theme Calendar by Totline – 2001
This one is AWESOME. It’s a perpetual calendar with activities for every day of every month of the entire year. I loved that this was already organized for me. I didn’t even have to open a book to find my own ideas – they were laid out already. They have one for preschoolers as well.

Baby Play by Wendy Masi – 2001
We are big fans of Gymboree Play & Music. We started taking our boys when they were 18 months old and only just stopped going after they turned four and started preschool. I love Gymboree! This books lets you bring some Gymboree home. They also have a Toddler Play version as well as new versions published in the last year that I’m sure are wonderful.

Science is Simple by Peggy Ashbrook – 2003
This is a great resource for toddlers and preschoolers. I know it’s got “preschoolers” in its title, but I have always believed in being a little advanced with my guys. The activities in this book are laid out for preschool teachers, so that you can make a whole day’s activity out of making homemade slime. Fun! We’ve tried a few of the activities out of this book with rousing success.

The Toddler’s Busy Book by Trish Kuffner – 2001
A great book! This one is packed full of ideas, games, and activities, from simple to more-effort-needed. Again, there are other versions available for other ages.

The other essential in our house to stave off boredom is music. I cannot stress enough that you do not have to suffer through saccharine children’s music just because you have children. They like what you like, generally. (My boys love to jump around to The White Stripes just as much as they do to anything I have listed out here.) Cheryl had a great review last week of the TwinSpin-Tunes for Twins CD (which I’ve added to my wishlist!). Here are a few others that never fail to get us up and DANCE.

The Backyardigans: Born to Play – 2008
I confess: I LOVE The Backyardigans. When my boys were Tyrone and Pablo last year for Halloween, I made myself a Uniqua costume. (Only one little girl knew who I was – everyone else thought I was Piglet.) I even decorated our mini-van as a backyard for trunk-o-treat, complete with a walk-through interior and a slide out the back. We have nearly all the DVDs and have so far had to live with just two CDs of music from the TV show. Not so any longer. Born to Play is a great CD, full of the wide range of musical styles The Backyardigans is known for. It’s impossible not to dance when you listen. Even if your kids don’t watch the show, you can’t help but enjoy the music.

Ralph’s World: Happy Lemons – 2007
Ralph’s World music is just wonderful. He explores a broad range of musical styles (blues, reggae, swing and zillions more) all within songs that are fun and whimsical. Our favorite is Happy Lemons but there are many more to choose from – they’re all fantastic!

They Might Be Giants: No – 2002
Yes, this is the same They Might Be Giants of “now it’s Istanbul not Constantinople” fame. They have produced some incredible children’s music, have been featured on the Disney channel and much more. This is one of our favorite CDs of all time. The music is quirky and weird with lots of funny stuff that keep my boys laughing. You know it’s good when you end up singing along to it in the car on the way to work. And you’re all the way there before you realize you don’t have any kids with you.

Now that I’ve shared some of my family’s favorites, I would love to hear more about yours! I’m always on the lookout for new books and CDs to share with my boys.

10 thoughts on “Staving Off Boredom

  1. These sound like great suggestions!

    Some favorite CDs at our house are:
    Putumayo: I find that *I* actually like the music so it doesn’t grate on me, probably because it’s mostly musicians with regular careers singing songs for kids. Folk and Sing Along are favorites these days.

    Laurie Berkner: Okay, she might grate after a while. But our kids really love her stuff.

    Recent favorites at our house also include Paul Simon and Abba!

  2. Justin Roberts is great. I got his CD “Meltdown” for xmas, and it’s really fun and catchy and sounds like “real” music (for lack of a better phrase). I enjoy listening to it.

    Also, Barenaked Ladies are coming out with a kids’ CD (and accompanying storybook) called “Snacktime” in May. As a big BNL fan, my copy is already pre-ordered. :-)

  3. Oh yeah, one more. If you want to introduce kids to classical music but you don’t know where to start, there’s a great CD of the Philadelphia Orchestra doing Peter & the Wolf, with narration by David Bowie! The CD also includes “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” and “Carnival of the Animals.”

  4. The “Rock a Bye” series: Music of popular artists set to lullabies: Bob Marley, The Eagles, Rolling Stones, U2, Coldplay, etc.. they can be found on amazon!

  5. This is quite possibly one of the best posts I’ve read in a long time … I haven’t heard of some of these books and I READ a lot. Though, we don’t have much money so that’s been a limitation.

    I’ll add my two cents here: I’ve been home full-time with my girls since they were 10 months. I have almost always — with some exceptions — had a daily plan of what we will do. That plan, granted, has changed immensely. I have set up our days like preschool where we alternate high energy with quiet or calm activities that achieve a nice mix of arts, music, learning and physical development. By setting up time slots — no more than 15 minutes per activity — it keeps the day flowing. And, I found that planning out the day like this really helps me feel better about the days. Now that we get out of the house more it’s less preschool-like and more of working in art, music and learning in the mornings or just after dinner and on rainy days.

    I love http://www.toddlertoddler.com as a resource. Sorry for the book. I blog a lot about keeping our kids entertained, and enriching their lives, too. It’s a passion, I guess. Thanks for these book titles.

  6. I love all the suggestions – will be checking them out at our library.

    Shawn – sounds like you have a great structure to your day. Toddlertoddler.com is a great resource. Thanks for recommending it!

  7. I echo the Peter and the Wolf/Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra comment–my toddler can now name/recognize most of the major instruments in the orchestra when she hears them and prefers these classical pieces to some of the kids’ music we have! I hope my boys follow suit!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>