I am not a morning person. Never have been, and might never be. I do really wish that I was, but it is just not in my nature. In the mornings, my child is raring to go, and has plenty of mental focus and a need to do something with his hands. It usually takes everything I can muster to shuffle us through breakfast, let alone be entertainment for a three-year-old.
In order to give Simon something engaging to do, and give myself a little break from having to use my brain while I am still drinking my coffee, I came up with the idea of a morning activity tray.
I always admire the aesthetic quality of Montessori activities presented to children on a tray. I also think that sometimes, having a visual or physical boundary to work within can actually be liberating to a child’s sense of creativity. Give them a space and some materials to work with, and just sit back and see what they will do.
The photos above are my first attempt at using the idea of a pre-assembled activity in a tray for morning, and it went very well. Last night I prepared the materials, lining the bottom with sheets of drawing paper, and putting some farm stickers into two round lids. I added a couple of tubes of glitter glue and a couple of markers, in case Simon wanted to draw in some scenery too. The tray I used is one that a Melissa and Doug block set came in, and is just the right size and shape to re-purpose for this.
When we came into the kitchen this morning, as I was making breakfast, I put the tray out on the table and told Simon it was an activity for him to do. He dove right in, peeling the backs off the foam shapes and sticking them to the paper. He also experimented using the glue, and sticking the shapes to the tray. After stopping to eat breakfast, he went right back to it for a while, and I sat beside him, sipping coffee and talking to him about what he was working on. By the time he was ready to move on to something else, I was awake enough to get the day going.
I already have lots of ideas for more morning trays, and plan to document them and share here.