Back In The Hills: 21 easy morning activities for your kids, so you can enjoy your coffee.

I treasure quiet mornings.  I love being awake in a sleeping house, sitting on my puffy couch with a hot cup of coffee and seeing what is new and awesome on Pinterest, basking in sheer silence.  And I don't particularly like talking for an hour or two, if possible.  
Back In The Hills
Since having children (specifically, one that gets up all on her own), those quiet mornings have been shortened, and some days they just don't happen.  Getting up at 6:30am helps, but I can't always drag myself out of bed until 7am, a mere 15 minutes before my eldest emerges.  A while ago, I came across a post on The Imagination Tree about Creating Invitations to Play -this simple idea has greatly enhanced my mornings!  By taking a few minutes in the evening to set something out on Yummy's table, I gain a few more minutes with my coffee and iPad while Yummy explores whatever activity I've set out for her.  Dooter usually sleeps in a little later than his sister, so for now I don't set anything out for him, other than the occasional board book for him to peruse.

Simple Set Up & Clean Up
My mission is to keep it simple.  It shouldn't take me more than five minutes to set something up and it shouldn't require a whole lot of clean up.  I keep a list of ideas tacked inside the art cabinet next to the little table so I don't have to think very hard about what I am doing.   I often put the activity on a cookie sheet so it is easy to bring to the sink for cleaning, if needed, or move out of the way if Dooter shouldn't be stuffing it in his mouth.

Yummy is always excited to race upstairs and see what is waiting for her on her table (no matter how simple the activity is) and I have grown to look forward to setting out a surprise activity for her each morning.  I like the chance to introduce her to a new combination of art materials, or to bring out something she hasn't looked at in a while.  Some of these activities I created beforehand, so they don't take any extra work now to get them out.  

Here's my list of Easy Morning Activities:
*Each photo below contains a longer description, if you click on it.
  1. Paper (magazines, printed paper, newspaper, etc), scissors, glue
  2. Paper doilies & watercolour crayons (water and paintbrushes optional)
  3. Wrapping paper scrap & tape
  4. Stick Puppets from cut-out pictures
  5. Watercolour paint, glue, salt
  6. White paper, white crayon, watercolour paint
  7. Felt stick puppets with felt clothes
  8. Drinking straws & scissors (Nice to work on fine motor skills.  The straws are very satisfying to cut, and sometimes the end sticks together so Yummy can pinch it to make "poppin' sounds"
  9. Glitter glue & paper
  10. Rocks & coloured sharpies
  11. Chalkboard, chalk & wet rag (optional -water and paintbrush)
  12. Chalk, black paper, water bowls (paintbrushes optional)
  13. Dry Erase Pictures (colouring pages or play-dough mats inserted into plastic sleeves)
  14. Colouring pages (crayons/markers) (the page in the photo are from MadeByJoe)
  15. Water Painting sheets from store-bought books
  16. Stickers & sticker Book 
  17. Wipe-clean books with dry-erase markers
  18. Little figurines arranged in a new way
  19. Magnet letters on a cookie sheet
  20. Clothesline, clothespin apron (made by me), little clothes & basket (I tie the string between two chairs, and I cut the clothes out of fabric scraps.  You could also use doll clothes)
  21. Play-dough
    • play-dough mats (the ones in the photo were free printables from SparkleBox
    • various tools (plastic knife, plastic pizza cutter, rolling pin, dough cutter, etc)
    • play-dough stamps (I snagged mine at a thrift shop)
    • cookie cutters
    • natural textures (leaves, dried corn cobs, rocks, grass, sticks, shells, etc)
    • googly eyes & pipe cleaners
    • letter cookie cutters
    • potatoe head pieces
    • feathers and goggly eyes
    • cupcake play-dough (I saw this little box at Dollarama and was inspired to put together a kit with sparkly pink play-dough, muffin cups, candles, and little gems & sequins)
*Of course, know your child and what they are capable of using safely.  Scissors, pins, etc can be dangerous for young children.  Make sure they are always supervised.

**Click a photo for a description!

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