How to keep a four-year-old busy

Do you know how to keep a four-year-old busy? I’m very lucky to have not one four-year-old in my life, but two of them. What’s worse is that they aren’t even four yet, however, they think and act like they are already!

In a departure from my regular money-saving posts, I thought today I would share something slightly different today. I promise you that it does relate to money-saving so stick with me until the end.

I’ve really taken an interest in Montessori learning this year and the many benefits it can bring to children and their families. Like many I had thought that Montessori was just a bunch of wooden toys and if by magic your child immediately turned into someone else.

Boy was I wrong! Montessori has helped us in so many ways:

  • taught me about the importance of toy rotation which has led me to spend less money on toys.
  • helped the kids learn to tidy up their toys.
  • taught the kids how to play with open-ended toys which keep them busy.
  • taught me about practical life activities and their importance.

I have always been terrified of any type of messy play inside the house. What about if they break something? What about if they make a mess? And my biggest fear – what about if they don’t like it?

Today in my own sugar-filled moment I suggested we do some water play. That’s right, I suggested it, they didn’t. The girls took that to mean getting the paddling pool out (hmmm on a November day I don’t think so). Once they understood it didn’t mean the paddling pool they begrudgingly agreed to try out my nonsense inside water play.

Hour One

I quickly raided the cupboard of ‘educational toys’ and bravely set out my weapons.

I bought these Learning Resources Tools a few weeks back with something like this in mind. They are perfect for fine motor practice. The purple scooper thing does remind me of a teabag squeezer though. I did think after a full week of preschool that they wouldn’t be bothered with the setup.

After much coaxing they finally agreed to come and see ‘what I was on about’.

I had been itching to find a use for these Mini Science Beakers I bought months ago. I think their actual purpose is a shot glass but they are a really thick plastic and have measurements on the side. They do bring back horrific memories of year seven science though. The girls regularly pretend to make potions and put spells on their Dad. Hopefully this is the time to put them to good use!

I had a silly plan for the afternoon which meant for some reason they would lovingly play with their wonderfully educational setup and I would get on with cleaning the kitchen and doing the washing. I still don’t know why I would even have these thoughts. They never let me get on with a big thing like cleaning the kitchen.

The first of my educational weapons they selected was the Plastic Pipettes. Thankfully there are two of each colour in the pack so no arguing needed. The girls soon got to grips with the motion needed to suck the water in and then transfer it again. These are food grade so no concern about them getting hurt.

30 minutes in they ask for their Sea Animal set from the bathroom and their random button collection.

I carried on cleaning the kitchen. Normally I just about manage the bare minimum before they demand I stop. After 30 minutes I was emptying the crumbs from the toaster. Yes you have read correctly.

Hour Two

The girls are fascinated with YouTube videos where they make slime. I refuse to let them make slime so they asked if they could make some pretend slime in their blue water.

Much to my delight this carried on for 30 minutes. In that time there was no arguing, no complaining and they were playing independtly.

I thought they must get bored soon. No, they asked for some new coloured water and carried on. The eldest actually graced us with his presence for about 20 minutes! I couldn’t believe he stepped away from his Farming Simulator Game for more than 30 seconds.

Hour Three

You will notice that the photo quality starts to get worse. You are probably desperate to know why? Three whole hours later, when it was dark outside, we had to negotiate with them that it was time to pack the water play away.

Alice refused to give in.

If you have made it to the end you are probably asking how this post relates to saving money? This is a free activity you could do yourself at home for nothing. Water costs nothing and if you can raid your kitchen cupboards for utensils for pouring and transferring water you are quids in.

At this time of year, you might be thinking that your kids are ‘bored with their toys’ and you are desperate not to buy anything before Christmas. This is the perfect boredom busting activity for a four-year-old.