Summer Activity Schedule for Our Toddler (3.5 Year Old)
I don’t know about you, but I cannot sit around and just pretend play with my 3 year old all day long. I honestly can only do it for a short period of time before I am bored out of my mind.
I then take to getting on my phone, finding small tasks to step away for, and not paying as much attention to her as I’d like. With summer rapidly approaching, I knew I needed an activity schedule to keep us occupied, so we have things to do other than just free open play.
Yesterday we decided to make a collaborative list of things to do for the day. The list came about for a very specific struggle we are having right now: our daughter is throwing all out fits at times when we have to stop playing with her for a moment.
She goes through phases where she plays so well on her own, and then phases where all she wants is attention and more and more of my time. I don’t blame her, I mean playing is so much more fun with someone else. I get it. But I need to be able to step away for a few moments.
So, on the morning that this list was created, Caroline had already thrown 3 fits. Three. I was not going to have that. The list was born.
Usually when this happens, we focus on doing more independent play. At this age, I simply explain to her that, until she can demonstrate to me that she can do independent play without a screaming fit, we will be practicing it formally every day.
We are casual about it in our house at this point and don’t do formal independent play often. The reason for that, is simply because she does so well with playing independently most of the time!
Independent play was going to be on our list, no doubt. It was the reason I decided to do a list.
When it was finished, we had an awesome list. When the day was done, I realized it was the perfect plan. We didn’t put set times or even a set order to the list.
After all, I like the idea of a relaxing summer where we can go with the flow. It is a list that can be added to, and it is a list that can be agreed upon in the morning.
We both have ownership of it and get to add things. As a result, the day went super smoothly. AND we accomplished everything on our list!
So, our summer activity schedule is going to be just this- a list of ideas!
I’m planning on keeping a running list, not starting from scratch each day. If we want to add to it, we can. If we have other plans, we’ll just look to the list when we are home.
On our list for our 3.5 year old, is the following:
1. Walk/bike ride
Our plan is to beat the heat. First thing in the morning, I have to take the dog out anyways, so why not make it into a walk/bike activity for all of us!? Caroline is LOVING riding her tricycle at the moment.
She is suddenly an absolute pro at it and can even go up hills. She rides her bike daily, and I walk the dog along side her. It is a perfect early morning activity when the sun isn’t at its full force yet.
The goal here is to get energy out and to be outside. However that happens. Maybe that means going to the playground one morning instead.
Maybe that means free outside play (digging in the dirt, etc.). Or, maybe we do all of the above. Whatever it looks like, we want to spend time outside and get moving!
2. Playtime with Mama
I want Caroline to know that, even though we will be working on independent play at times, she will get special playtime with me. I want her to know that it is our time.
I want her to know that I haven’t forgotten about just spending some good old fashioned time with her playing whatever it is that she wants. She gets to pick. This also gave her a lot of ownership of this list. She started adding ideas in immediately!
3. Independent Playtime
Independent play was the reason for this list. It had to be on here. We do 1 full hour of independent play. She knows that, when her clock turns yellow, independent play is over.
Sometimes she plays, sometimes she reads, and other times she rests. She can do whatever she’d like, as long as she’s doing it by herself.
I sometimes give her ideas of things she can do, but for the most part she comes up with things on her own. She has access to anything in her room.
She’s also old enough, that she can go outside on the porch and play by herself there if she’d like. She does choose this at times!
I wanted to have some sort of focused learning activity for the summer. Writing practice was initially our goal.
It is causing major frustration for both of us, however. But, we both agree that tracing is something that we can succeed at together easily.
Caroline has so much fun with it, and she’s getting very good at it, as well. If she chooses to, she can do writing practice on her own, but it is not going to be something I ask of her since it caused some issues. (Read about those writing issues we ran into here).
5. Coloring Together
Caroline added this option. Coloring together is something we had done the night before. We both had a really nice time just doing our own pictures next to one another. We may draw on blank paper, may color pictures, or may draw on whiteboards.
Whatever feels right that day is what we’ll do! This could also change into any craft or artsy activity. We might paint, make something, or even draw with chalk outside. The point here is that we are being creative and doing it together.
6. Reading Books Together
Caroline also added this option. She loves reading. It’s something we do every day before bed. We used to read a lot during the day as well. We’ve gotten away from that as she’s gotten older and more active. So, I thought this was a fantastic idea of something to get back to.
7. Independent Reading Time
This is another Caroline addition to the list! At school, they have independent book time. At home, we’ve also done this. I remember when I was pregnant with April, being so tired. I wanted nothing more than to kick my feet up on the bed.
So, I asked Caroline to join me for independent reading time. We both brought a book (her several), and we sat on the bed reading for 30 minutes together. It was lovely!
8. Family Walk
Caroline’s final addition to the list, was a family walk. When Daddy is home, we do this as a whole family. I love this. Obviously, it is something that we need to do for our dog, and I think we all really enjoy the outside time together.
When it’s really hot, this might change into family pool time to cool off! Somehow we’ll have some family time as a whole unit. Other days we might play inside. But the whole family part is key here, and something Caroline really looks forward to.
This list is fluid. We can add to it. We may or may not do everything on our list every day. It was the perfect amount of things to do on our first day, however. It worked out great. On days that we have playdates, we may adjust this list.
Our goal is not to have a set schedule or be locked into anything this summer. Our goal is simply to have ideas up our sleeves of things to do to break up the day. A good variety is key and makes the day go very smoothly.
I love that Caroline had so much involvement making this list. I think that is key. Take turns adding things to the list, but get your toddler’s input. That way, they’ll be excited about the idea of a list!
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