If you are like me and have more than one preschooler that you need to keep entertained, I would suggested getting each child their own box. I purchased some cardboard file boxes at an office supply store just for this reason. You can have your kids decorate the outside with stickers and paint to make it really special. Make sure that this box is ALWAYS put away completely out of sight! This will make it that much more special to the child. It's a good idea to rotate the things inside the box every week or every other week. This keeps interest in the box fresh.
Following is a list that I use and I keep it with my lesson planner. That way, every Sunday when I write out our weekly schedule, I know that I have to rotate the things in the preschool box and I don't have to think about what I'm going to put in it next. Although many moms are into the scoop and pour items, I stay away from these just to make my clean up easier.
- Wooden Puzzles (no more than 2 puzzles per box)
- Lacing Beads
- New Coloring Books (in order to keep them new, just tear out unused pages and staple them together)
- New Crayons (I always try to keep the crayons fresh. It's a good idea to sharpen them or to melt old crayons and make new ones in fun shapes)
- Ikea Train Set (or any other small set that doesn't require difficulty in setting up. Ikea's is small enough to fit all the pieces in a plastic Ziploc bag)
- Shape Sorter
- Books (make sure to pick some out that are ONLY used for the box so that they always seem new)
- Color Wonder Paper and Paint/Markers
- Magnets and a Small Cookie Sheet
- Small CD Player, Headphones, & Fun Music
- Peg Boards
- Lace & Link (made by Lauri)
- Fit-a-Space (made by Lauri)
- Lacing Cards
- Chalk & Small Chalkboard (you can get them at craft stores for about a dollar)
- Stickers & Wax Paper (they can reuse the stickers that way)
- Envelopes, Paper, Stickers, etc.
This list is always a work in progress since I am always getting new ideas. I'll keep updating in the future. In the mean time, I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me. Remember that older children can be extremely helpful to you! Get your kids used to entertaining little ones by having them read books or playing with them. Although my 3 year old doesn't know how to read words yet, she still enjoys making up her own stories to the pictures and then reading them to my 20 month old. It keeps both of them entertained for at least 15 minutes!