Different ways to have fun with routines!
Whether you take care of children in a home daycare or larger daycare centre, most of the time you spend with children is devoted to routines. However, when we plan our daily activities, we tend to forget them. Proper planning of routines has many advantages. It allows you to be more available for your group of children. Consequently, you have to discipline them much less. Vary routines and include new methods to capture children's interest and encourage them to participate. Activity suggestions and material ideas found in this document will help you have fun during routines.
Routines are often busy periods which require much of your energy. Remember to give children responsibilities. They love having "jobs" to do and their help lessens the number of tasks you must do. A few responsibilities you may give children during specific routines are listed below.
Lunch and snacks
- Before lunch is ready, distribute a facecloth to each child. Invite children to try to make shapes with their facecloth.
- Drink with a straw.
- Add food coloring to milk.
- Decorate a tablecloth.
- Decorate Styrofoam glasses.
- Have a candlelight lunch.
- Play soft music during lunch time.
- Have a friendship lunch: each child chooses who he wants to eat with. Have them choose a location within the daycare where they can sit, just the two of them, to eat.
- Have an indoor picnic. Sit on a blanket on the floor.
- Have a buffet: place serving bowls and plates on the table and let each child choose what he wants to eat as well as the quantity.
- Pretend you are eating at the restaurant. (Open - Restaurant menu)
- Display, near your lunch area, the rules which must be respected when eating.
- Sing a specific song to announce that it is time to brush their teeth.
(Open songs and rhymes - Do you know?)
- Display the illustrated steps involved to brush their teeth properly near the sink.
(Open Toothbrushing poster)
- Hang a mirror near the sink and table or make a small handheld mirror available. Children will like to watch themselves. It will help them wash their hands or brush their teeth properly.
Responsibilities: distribute facecloths or utensils, sweep the floor, run errands in the kitchen, distribute tooth-brushes...
- Freeze soap and water in ice cube trays. Children can manipulate the ice cubes while washing their hands.
- Purchase oversized eyeglasses at the dollar store or make your own. Wear them to inspect children's hands after washing.
- Use scented soap (Beware of allergies or intolerances).
- Walk to the sink a certain way (hopping on one foot, with one hand on your head, slithering like a snake, by taking tiny steps like a mouse...)
- Name a color. Children who are wearing that color go to the sink to wash their hands.
- Display the steps involved to wash their hands well near the sink (Open poster-6 steps for hand washing)
- Responsibilities: hand friends paper so they may dry their hands, open and close faucets, gather friends when it is time to wash their hands...
- Diaper changes and toilet
- Hang illustrations over the changing table.
- Add tiny, colourful objects which make sounds to small medicine bottles. Leave them beside the changing table. Children can manipulate them while you change their diaper.
- Display the steps involved when using the bathroom. (Open poster-How to use the bathroom)
- Display hunt and seek pictures near the bathroom. (Open hunt and seek-Personal hygiene)
- Create small activity boxes, one per child. Place simple toys inside and allow children to play with their box on their mattress.
- Try a few yoga positions before nap time.
- Use a puppet for story time.
- Invent a story with your group. Cut pictures out of magazines and place them in a small bag. Have each child pick a picture and invent a brief part of the story.
- Have each child decorate the ceiling above his nap time spot.
- Write down your nap time plan. Display it so anyone who replaces you can offer stability when you are not there.
- On Fridays, display a reminder for parents to take their child's blanket home to be washed. This will ensure children always have a clean blanket to sleep with. (Open memo-Laundry day)