This works best when it's not an entirely new activity, but with some new portion. Also best are sensory activities. It is rare that I can set up an art activity with them and expect them to run with it without some extended presence or direction on my part.
One of our favorites is a round cake pan half full of baking soda and a few bowls of colored vinegar. They've done this activity several times over the years, but maybe this time I'll only put out eye droppers, or only spoons and forks, or a few plastic trees/animals, or the magnifying glasses. The basics are the same, it's just the tools that will change. The very best part of kids is watching how a simple change in the set up will entirely change how they interact with their environment. That and the free hugs.
Today, though, we've got a bunch of muddy plastic eggs from our easter egg hunt yesterday -- photos to come as soon as I can upload them.
So, I set up a washing station for them. Because I have them wash stuff all the time the new aspect of this is the eggs. Also because we do this frequently I know they already know the rules.
Here are the keys to making this successful (read: mama doesn't have to yell about water everywhere)
- space for both kids, but not next to each other. we learned last week that cheetahs will only eat in a star formation so that there's no fighting over portions. kids are just like cheetahs.
- roasting pan 1/4 full of warm soapy water
- oilcloth drop cloth to protect the floor
- two cleaning cloths
- two towels
- everything on a tray
- extra clothes, because obviously
The best ever is to set this up outside, but even though the weather is getting better it's not warm enough for water outside.
Either way, 1/2 an hour later they're still playing and cleaning.
We'll take a break in a bit and let everything dry and then they can put them all back together!