Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Crazy Box

About 6 or 7 months ago, in my third trimester, I started to panic. What was I going to do with three girls, and one of them a round-the-clock newborn?

So one day I took down all my cute toddler activity books, which had been gathering dust on the bookshelf. Started flipping through. Started jotting down page numbers. Of course all those books have lovely, adorable, developmentally appropriate, clever and oh-so-cute ideas. But I was looking very specifically for activities that require minimal-to-no adult instruction or supervision. Basically, things I can set the girls up with, and leave the room to nurse/pee/cry/collapse/stare blankly at the wall wondering what I came in here for/etc. You know, the usual.

The list became fairly long, so over the next few weeks I compiled them and typed them up into a booklet. While I was at it, also made a list of supplies needed for the activities and started collecting them into a plastic bin. I even unearthed my label maker and put everything in labeled bags and containers.While I was at it, I kept wondering, "Am I wasting my time? Will they go for it?" Most of the activities seemed appealing, but we had never done them before, so you never know.

I finished the box before Poppy was born, and kept it in my closet even after we came home. I wanted to put off needing it as long as possible, but I was also afraid to find out if my work was in vain. Because it embodied a hope, something to turn to when all else fails, and I couldn't quite face it being a failure, too.

But things got desperate and I got over that. Broke it out one afternoon while I was making dinner. The girls were intrigued. Excited. Almost every day they asked for a new activity, but I limited it to the most difficult time of day - late afternoon, while making dinner. Because that's the CRAZY time of day. When they're driving me CRAZY. When I do not have time or energy to think up an activity or hunt down supplies. I need it typed up, in a booklet, with labeled bags of everything I need, ready to go.
Sharpening Pencils

Using tongs to move pom poms into ice cube trays

Hole punching

Moving colored water with eye droppers

Scrubbing coins with a toothbrush

These days, Hazel usually has homework in the afternoon, and we copy it so Ginger can do it too. We've done most of the Crazy Box activities so the novelty has worn off. But there are still some favorites they request on occasion so we keep it close by.

The Crazy Box: an idea that actually worked.Making paper clip chains


Kelsey Carreon said...

you are a genius!! I am doing this when I go to my parents house. I am leaving the girls with them while I am there for 2 days and I am leaving the crazy box for my mom and dad. The girls will love it and it will give (mainly my dad.. my mom is awesome with the girls) my kids and their granny and papa something fun and new to do. A lot of those project are perfect for the eye hand coordination we are really working on with Aurora tool.

kat said...

brilliant. which is not a surprise. i have a craft box, but it's just too vague. LOVE the crazy box. need your project ideas. will trade for chocolates in just a couple months. :)

jeans said...

You need to publish your booklet as a PDF, pronto, so it can be a lifesaver to someone else too!

Scott and Jen Driggs said...

Love these ideas! These are just the things little hands love to do. Beats the video games I turned to in time of crisis in the late afternoon :)

Lindsay said...

Okay, I need one of those, if only to keep me from pulling out my own hair every day between the hours of 4 and 7 pm. So feel totally free to email me your booklet of ideas....hint hint. :)

Rachel said...

Um...hi Kari! Yes, I still read your blog, mostly silently, but I always enjoy it quietly. :) And now I'm commenting to ask that if you get your ideas in forward-able form if you could send them my way too? I'm due in December and Sophia and I will NEED a crazy box. NEED. Glad all is well with you and yours, we're happy over here too, living S. of Tucson, ten miles from the Mexican border in a tiny town. Davey works at a boys ranch as a therapist and really likes it. And hey, guess what? Davey is heading down to DC at the end of the month to attend Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity". Isn't that hilarious? Maybe he'll see you there???? :)

GR82BAMOM said...

Great idea! Don't we all need a crazy box?! I especially liked the coin scrubbing. My mom had us do that. Hilarious! I give Liam little sorting projects like his daddy's colored pencils, his crayons, nuts and bolts, and loose change to sort into baggies. I have him pick up different kinds of dried cereal with tongs and sort it into different bowls (so that I could dump it all back into the cereal boxes later). I also have him sort out my coupons when they are left at the front stoop (he picks out what he recognizes). He and I also have a crazy "sock races": we put socks on our hands and crawl really fast from one end of the room to the other. This last one doesn't qualify for a crazy box here, but maybe in a home with more children. There's more, but I can't remember right now. We all really need to share these!

Kelsey Carreon said...

Kari can you put up your list of supplies for your wonderful Crazy box. I would love to have one for the girls when I go to Virginia. I got a few of the things that you already posted on your blog but I would love some more ideas if you have them.

BTW you are amazing!

Maren said...

Oh, yeah. That's total genius. T spent a very long time punching holes at preschool one day and has requested a hole puncher for his birthday, which I loved buying for him. ALL of those are total genius. Package them up in sets of two activities and give them as presents.

Mia said...

This is a fantastic idea. We have a vague craft box too. But these easy to follow ideas are great! I would love a list of ideas and supplies too!

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