Routines: Introducing table activities

Table time is a valuable addition to any flexible routine. Simply put, it is a time when the children sit at the table (or desk or kitchen bench or wherever) and work on a quiet activity. It is a time set by the parent for this to happen and the activities used are those that are previously approved and designated as table activities.

I choose the activities for my toddlers and younger children and set them out, the middlies usually get to choose between a limited number of activities (“Would you like drawing or felt board today?”) and the older children choose for themselves from activities that they know are already approved table activities. I chat to the children while they play at the table and am able to get the dinner made and served at the same time.

While my routines have changed over the years, for the majority of the time I have used table activities after bath and shower time and just before dinner time. This allows me to get everyone finished in the bathroom and send them to their activities as they are done – no roaming about the house getting into mischief.

I find that it is the transition times, the few minutes here and there between activities, that cause the most trouble and produce the most accidents. Left to their own devices, even for just a few minutes at this time of day, a cranky, tired, hungry toddler or child will rarely make good choices with their time!

The possibilities for table time activities are virtually unlimited. I have a cupboard with shelves that is designated for table activities which makes it easy for the children to see what they can do. Anything you have that can be used independently while sitting at the table is a suitable activity. Some families like to use this time for homework. I’ll be posting some table time ideas soon and of course, any of the toddler, workjob or Montessori ideas I post would be suitable, as long as your child can do them without assistance.

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5 Responses

  1. Hi Ang, Loving your blog! The table activities are great! Thanks for including photos so I can see exactly how you implement each idea! Keep up the great work! Thanks Gail xx

  2. Hi Ang, thank you for all your wonderful ideas. I have seen a lot of information for things for toddlers and preschoolers for table time. My kids are 9, 7 and 5. Do you feel like doing a blog post about what you allow your older kids to do for table time? 🙂

    • Thanks Lisa. I’ll put it on my “to do” list. I’m much more flexible with the older children and they often come up with their own ideas (within limits) but there are times that I ask them to choose from selected table time activities in “their” cupboard.

    • Hi Lisa, I have just posted a list of table activity ideas for school-aged children that may be helpful for you. See 16th Jan, 2014

      • Hi Angela , thank you for posting this great series! I am interested in them all! The photos are a great idea for a busy mum with little time even to read your notes!

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