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Afternoon Ideas: K and Grade 1

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Ideas to keep kids busy during afternoons?  We get 'school' done in the mornings.  I work in the afternoon from home but need relative quiet with minimal distractions.  Ideally, I'd like them in the same room with me doing a quiet activity.  We don't have the option for them to do any kind of work on the computer.  Considering getting a Kindle or iPad of some sort but haven't bitten the bullet yet. 


Here's what I have so far:

Quiet alone reading time for practice

Audio books






crafts... (but I'd rather not go crazy on this idea b/c I'd have to be with them or we'll have mass chaos...  ;))


Any other bright ideas or games or fun educational type toys you would recommend?  I'm all ears!




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OH... and I really don't want to micromanage my kids, BUT, I see the value in the little workbox system and putting different things in there for them to go through during the afternoons picking and choosing which box to do first etc.  Oi vay.  I seriously am not one of those moms you see on blogs that are just oozing cutsie ideas & crafts galore... and again, I don't like to micromanage my kids by filling their days up to the brim with school....  Hope this makes sense without sounding confusing.  Lol! 

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How long are you expecting them to keep busy? I know if I want quiet I have to get my children outside - it would be unfair on them to have to keep quiet and busy with me right there and not be able to distract me. Nonetheless if it were only for 5 or 10 minutes at a time and then a break before another quiet time then I would add the following to your list:



TV for a limited time

soft toys

a plastic sheet with buildings drawn on it that they can play with cars and toy people

wooden blocks with accessories

a tea set with a towel (to prevent a sopping wet room) and some water


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Maybe some outdoor "project"? That can be done outside your window? (I know you said you want them in the same room).  A little corner of the yard where they can putter and/or make a fairy garden (sorry, don't know if you have boys or girls).  Or :"painting" with water, or sidewalk chalk?


I have a similar dilemna with my dd7; her school will take several hours less than her sister's and I'm looking for ideas of things she can do that will keep her occupied in a positive way, but keep her from distracting her sister as well (who of course can tolerate my noise but not her sister's!)

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Well, I suppose I don't necessarily need them in the same room as me; I have just learned over time that they tend to get wound up and the pesting and bickering starts if they're in a different room.  To answer the other person, it'd be for approximately 2 hours.  So I am thinking I would do at least 1 hour of their own individual quiet times in separate spaces - maybe listening to an audio book and then playing together for anther hour...  Also, my office doesn't have a window to the back yard... humph.  :(

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Magic School Bus videos on a portable DVD player with ear plugs.


Some of the Right Start math card games are solitaire games. If you cannot afford RS, look for solitaire games for cards, dominoes and marbles.


Map tracing and coloring.


Dover History coloring books. They also have some nature study ones.


Draw Write Now or another drawing curriculum, that just uses just pencils and crayons.


Using Color in Your Art, can be adapted to crayons. http://www.amazon.com/Using-Color-Your-Art-Williamson/dp/B008SM1MSQ


The crayon "paintings" in Augsburg Drawing.



Ed Emberley books, especially the green one and the funprint one. I love the prade people and bean buddies, for early action drawing and facial features.


Knitting and crocheting and hand sewing.


Create centers and have the children rotate through them, seperately. There is nothing like having to wait for something to create interest.

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I would play outside for an hour before you have to work, and then get them on a set schedule and always have quiet time/reading time in their room. Susan Wise Bauer has a video where she explains how to do that even with her Teenage kids.


I wish I could have them in their room for that, but baby is sleeping there - they all share a room.  Because of that, their quiet time is in a different space.  Yes, we definitely incorporate quiet/alone time!


My main question is ideas of what to do outside of the quiet time while I'm working...

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LittlebyLittle, if it were me, I too would have my children right there by me, and expect them to be quiet. My children learned early on, to spend long periods of time engaged in quiet structured activity right by my side. It was never something they later complained about at teens and adults, as having been unfair.


The idea to take a break, and have them run for a few minutes is a good one. A "break" to do a few chores also works. 15 minutes where everyone cleans as much as they can before going back to work. You could schedule a bathroom and water break at the same time.


I found that my boys could spend the most time quiet, when I broke the time up into short and structured activities. Too much free choice made it worse not better. I did schedule free choice between structured mandatory activities, but it was something to look forward to.


I know this sounds nuts, but it is important to schedule in a few things they REALLY do NOT want to do, to make the other activities seem more appealing. And it's important to mix up passive activities with more active and creative ones. For example I wouldn't do reading after watching a DVD, but would instead fit something in between like drawing, knitting, or modeling.


Little dum dum lollipops can be a looked forward to treat about 3/4 of the way through. Picking the flavor is a big deal and they are quite slow to eat for something so small, and can be sucked on while reading or drawing.

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I know you said no "crafty" items, but my kindergartner (boy, if it matters) has recently become really interested in doing projects with Perler beads. I don't know if you know what they are, but they are little plastic beads that you arrange on a pegboard in a design, then melt with an iron when finished. He loves them. You can find patterns for nearly anything. He started with fairly simple designs, that would take upwards of 30 minutes or more, and now he has a bigger pegboard and has been working for a few hours on one design, If you don't have a space that you can leave it set up, or you have siblings who might mess up the design, it is best to stick to smaller designs that can be completed in one setting. Just let them work at it, building up those fine motor skills and chart reading skills, then when finished you would iron it and they would have a piece of art that isn't messy that they made themselves! My son is working on making small ones for his cousins for Christmas and the larger one is for one set of his grandparents. He loves that he is able to make something for the people that he cares about, and it holds his attention so well! You can find them in any crafting store or online at amazon.

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If you want to do the work box idea (which I think could totally work for 1 hour at that age), what about making some fun file folder games or centers (evan moor take it to your seat books , tons of printable file folder games online)? Throw in some puzzles, coloring, art (like paper weaving (no mess), beading, collages). and maybe mazes, puzzle books like highlights for the older.

Check pinterest for ideas. Search "busy bags" (most are for toddlers, but I am sure you could adapt for older kids) or "work box ideas".

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Some things my two enjoy (they are first and second grade)


snap circuits

marble runs


Playmobil or other little figures - they can play with these side by side for hours

audio books (while playing with other things quietly)

drawing, colored pencils- crayons- other non messy art supplies

perler beads

regular beads for making simple necklaces

magnets of all types

craft kits- those little rubber band bracelet kits, mosaic sticker pictures, scratch art

playing with doll house/ little critters


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