I'm looking after a 3 year old this fall (AND home schooling our 12 and 14 year olds)and it is a never ending battle to keep her busy while we home school, but it is a battle I am winning. I've spent considerable time over the last 4 weeks - thinking about and gathering items to keep her busy.
I WISH I had done this w/ our youngest;(when she was little)- it has worked so well now, but perhaps I needed to be an experienced mom to do it. AND there weren't the ideas around that there are now. Amazing ideas online.
Anyway, I was surprised at a couple of things I tried that worked and thought I would share them with you.
I have about 50 bags (big ziplock bags) of activities and last weekend, I divided them into days of the week baskets - well, actually 4 baskets. I didn't have room for one more basket, and I left a lot of unused items on the shelf - probably 8 to 10 bags in a basket.
I have found she loves items that are new to her (I have to leave about 10 days inbetween doing activities, so they are new for her again). I should make a chart of all the activities I have, too. We'll see when I have that much time. (I am planning on putting the used activites in a big bin and then to just keep cycling through until I use everything.)
(I'm also taking a couple of little boys to church and they are needing the same kind of activities - just little educational activities to keep them busy and happy - 3 year olds can be very busy.... And littler ones even more busy!
I came across The Broom is My Toddler's Favorite Toy yesterday for 2 year olds or smaller, and it was such a good reminder that little ones don't need fancy toys as simple ideas work really well. It's just pulling those simple ideas out of the hat that is so hard.)
Anyway, some of the simple ideas that have worked lately are: Games w/ pieces - Blokus (build a board is fun), and Qwirkle (I have the cubes and the tiles) - She can sort them, stack them or make lines with them.
I found our marbles and give her two metal bowls (smile) and a big spoon and she really enjoyed transferring them from bowl to bowl. Of course, we are still finding marbles here and there in our living room, so take care if you have littler ones in the home! (I saw someone online use a big, flat cardboard box. Might look for something like that, but then I have to store it.)
Next time, I am going to give her a smaller spoon and see if she likes moving them one at a time....
Just found a ping pong ball game - basically, colored ping pong balls to bounce into a game board - holds about 30, maybe. 1/3 of the balls were missing, but I had just bought new ones to use with a sorting activity (after drawing different faces on them) and I used those to fill out the board. She had a *ball* of fun rolling them around the living room, making rows of colors, mixing them up, and more. I think she kept busy with them for almost 1/2 an hour (first time she played with them - not sure if that would happen again).
The idea is to pound in golf tees and then balance marbles on top of them. Well, who needs marbles when you can pound golf tees? Smile She pounded and pounded. Hmm - recycling styrofoam - yay. smile
Also found a stacking toy - Discovery Toys / Giant Pegboard. She absolutely loved it. Made birthday cakes for each of us over and over, and from the link I see, the pieces can also be used for lacing. Yes! smile
I also put together a *princess* bag for her. I had a tiara and a wand left over from our girls - and I added rings, bracelets, sunglasses and beaded necklaces. Well, she can keep busy with them for 15 or 20 minutes, esp. if there is a mirror nearby. Smile (I should add a hand mirror into the bag.)
The other thing, was a pair of drum sticks. I grabbed them and a metal mixing bowl (while I was sorting some things and needed to keep her busy). Wow, was that ever fun and noisy. Smile. She drummed on it on the carpeted floor, on the bed, on the laminate floor, and more.
Anyway, I am surprised by how well it is working - little workboxes for little ones! I just bring about 10 of them to the table (in a basket) when we are home schooling and keep handing another bag to her, when she gets tired of the first bag. (Of course, she has to clean each done bag before getting a new one.)
I also saw a link to the 1+ 1+ 1 blog and her favorite Gift Ideas for Preschoolers. If you have little ones, check it out. She is an amazing Home School mom.
Well, I hope that gave you some encouragement and inspiration on what to do with little ones while you home school. All of our children are blessings, even the little ones!