I recently decided to start adding themes to our schedule at home, and honestly I love it. Instead of having an infinite amount of activities to choose from, I can streamline it. It makes planning and prepping SO much easier for me and lowers my stress during the week.
I figured out that the biggest time I need to plan for is the mornings – usually from 10am to noon. This gets me to lunch and quiet time, which is usually long enough for my hubby to come home from work and help.
So knowing all that, I decided to break it down into categories:
- Field Trip
- Sensory Table
- Themed Books
- Themed Music
- Themed TV show or movie
- Art projects
- Food (optional)
(These are all flexible – you don’t need to include all of them – but it’s a good place to start for brainstorming.)
Then I started picking themes based on what indoor activities I could do in my city. It is still over 100 degrees outside here and if I have to stay in the house every day, I get a little stir crazy. One night when hubby was watching the kids, I took about an hour and just did a massive brain dump. If there was a category I didn’t have a lot of ideas for, I just did a quick search on Pinterest. Tip: THINK EASY AND CHEAP. Kids like to play with mud, sticks and empty boxes – you don’t have to do much to make it exciting for them.
As you can see from my notes, there’s nothing too crazy there and it lasts me several months. The idea is to change over your space once a week (or every other week). Having a play space that changes and evolves can bring new life to old toys and get kids excited to play. The changes take us around 30-60 minutes on a Sunday night (depending on how intense I want to get). I try to tidy each night and during their quiet time and set out “invitations to play” – little stations that look fun and inviting – so when Ava wakes up, there’s something to do right away.
Once I had my brain dump, I just put them on my calendar. Doing this ahead of time takes a lot of the brain-work out for me and helps me plan ahead. I try to borrow what I can (for instance, I had a friend who lent me a bunch of dinosaur books and toys for Dinosaur Week), and pick things up when I see them (I was able to grab some butterfly toys two weeks ahead of time this way). When all else fails, Amazon Prime is my friend.
My last tip? You don’t have to change everything on Sunday night. For Dino Week, I would change things slightly every other day – especially in the sensory table. The first day, I put dinosaur fossils in kinetic sand. Later that week, I added some branches from outside to make “trees” and put dinosaur figures in. The second week, I put some Easter eggs in there so Ava could hatch dinosaurs. Those type of changes tend to be more impromptu vs planned, but that keeps it fun and interesting for me too.
I seriously am loving this. I also like that if your kid is super into a theme, just leave the stuff out an extra week.
Our Theme Weeks: