Helping with impromptu child care

By Iris Katers, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, 

Esther Macalady, Tim Fox

Preschool children are coming in half an hour for child care. No problem. You’re always well stocked. There are many educational toys found in your kitchen. Open up your low kitchen cupboards and drawers. They are full of mostly safe playthings for children and hide anything that is not safe.

The first go-to toys are cans. Children may make low towers on the floor or higher ones if they have heavy shoes. Cans may be arranged to make houses and castles, or they may add folded heavy paper to make bridges.

If they have brought figures, cars, or a few stuffed animals they can play raceway, house, or action figure adventures. The activity will give you time to wash the can cabinet you have been putting off and get down on the floor to play, too.

Random Containers

Your other drawers may hold plastic containers and lids. They make excellent puzzlers. Are there tops and bottoms that fit? If you have some that do not make a pair, they can be used for sandbox, beach play, or recycling later. They can turn the containers upside down and make a few drums using a wooden spoon to pound for a few minutes.

Empty the Cupboards

Children can gather all of the containers and help set chairs and guard chairs next to the sink. Fill the sink or dish pan half way and add a few drops of soap and a cloth. It’s time for washing, rinsing, and drying dishes for about 15 minutes.

While supervising the washing you can empty another drawer of wooden spoons, spatulas, other utensils. and gadgets. Double check for sharp edges on items like potato peelers and set those aside. You can explain the purpose for some of the odd looking gadgets as you add them to the washing water.

While adding the items ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” If not, out it goes into the donation bag. By now you should have cleaned, put away and culled at least four drawers, double dried these dishes, and have wet children.

You can scoop up the little wet people, throw their clothes in the dryer, and head for the bathroom. There should just enough time for a warm bath with a few of the containers you are not going to use.

Children have fun filling different sizes of containers. It’s similar to filling cups to equal a gallon. Which containers will float? How many action figures will it take to sink a container boat? Teach children to check for hand and toe wrinkles. Then they will help decide it’s time to get out of the tub. put on warm dry clothes, and have a snack.

For more see and Through the Seasons.