Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Homeschooling in Peace

Keeping Toddler Busy so Older Kids Can Learn in Peace

One of the biggest hurdles we have encountered in the two years we’ve been homeschooling is keeping Lovebug entertained or busy while we try to do lessons. The boys are at the age now where they are able to work independently, but there are still many times when they need me there with them. When she was a small baby, it wasn’t so bad, I would just put her in her carrier or swing or sit her on my lap.

But as she’s gotten older and she learns more, she wants to be involved in everything we do. She’s not ready to read from textbooks or cut and paste yet, but she is getting very close. Here are a few things I threw together one afternoon, which have managed to successfully keep her amused and happy so I can teach the boys without constant interruptions.
      First is the pretend paint. This is the easiest thing we’ve ever done and whoever first came up with this (I got the idea from Pinterest) should be given a Noble Peace Prize. Lovebug is very good at not making a mess, when she wants to be. She loves painting and especially eating the “paint” off the brush. 
     Since it’s only water, I don’t have to worry and she doesn’t have any meltdowns because of being told “no”. Just a lid with a little bit of water, I reused an old peanut butter jar lid. I got a pack of 20 paintbrushes at the dollar store so no shortage of those.

   I’ve tried to get creative with things she can “paint” on. Of course there’s colorful construction paper. I also framed a piece of cardboard with fuzzy yarn and when she paints on it with the water, it’s visible. I found an old wooden crafting plaque and she enjoys coloring on it as well. This is her most favorite activity.
      Next is stringing beads on pipe cleaners. I wasn’t sure if she would have the dexterity yet to string the cleaners through the beads but she did very well. And she enjoys it. Inevitably the beads will get thrown on the floor, or at her brothers, but for a while she enjoys it. This activity is one of her favorites, along with sorting Q-Tips into a recycled Parmesan cheese container through the holes in the lid. 


In a variation of this, I cut a hole in the top of an old formula can (I still have a bunch stored away from when Lovebug drank it) and collected water bottle lids that she could put inside. 
I searched for tiny cookie stickers, I was going to make the can look like Cookie Monster and put the stickers on the lids. She could then “feed” the cookies to Cookie Monster. I haven’t been able to find any yet, so this idea is sitting on the back burner. 

I did find these adorable little kitty and doggy stickers at the dollar store, though and she loves to say their names, “dog” and her current word for cats “meow”, as she puts them into the container one by one. The container isn’t pretty right now, but she enjoys it, even with its lack of aesthetic appeal.

I’m always trying to come up with new, fun, creative things for my daughter to do so she can be included in homeschooling. It’s not easy having such a large age gap between my children, but with a little inspiration and a lot of grit, we’ve been able to make it work.

Do you have a toddler in your homeschool classroom? How do you find time for everyone? How do you keep your younger ones occupied while you’re helping your older kids with lessons? I’m always looking for new advice, tips and inspiration! Thanks!