I was searching through some of my blog archives looking for something when I came upon an answer I had given to a mom asking about how to keep her six-year-old occupied while working with her older child. It got me to thinking- I have never really written about the concept of constructive playtime.
Again, not original to me. My friend Colleen always would talk about our kiddos having constructive playtime, and I have used that term and concept since they were little guys. When a child has some amount of free time, I always tell them to find something constructive to do.
Here is the response I gave to the mom asking about her six-year-old:
"Does he like to role-play? How about having him set up a "store" that you and your other son can then "shop" in after you're finished? Or give him an old keyboard and some office supplies and let him play "office". Better yet, put him on something productive like making you lunch :) If you spend a day teaching him how to make a basic lunch or two, then he should be able to make it for you by himself (pbj, chips, fruit, yogurt, etc.)
I'm sure you know all the good boy things like Legos, KNex, Lincoln Logs, Blocks, HotWheels, SuperMag, etc. All of those activities will strengthen his logic, math, and creativity.
And how about an ongoing project like paint-by-number? Origami (great for math), simple woodworking, dough craft, puzzles. Rotate them- have Monday be painting day, Tuesday for puzzles, etc. Make it special by giving him a chart of some sort so he can be self-governing, too.
I never want to give the impression that I am pushing my little ones away while the older ones are doing schoolwork with me. What activities can he do and still be near you both?"
Puppet shows are constructive!
And this was a "home" they created for a potato bug they captured. Very constructive!