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Topic: What do you do with your little ones while doing school with the big kids?

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Subject: What do you do with your little ones while doing school with the big kids?
Date Posted: 2/25/2008 4:13 PM ET
Member Since: 7/2/2006
Posts: 1,620
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I was just wondering what types of activities you involve your younger kids in while the big kids are doing school?

My 3 year old DD likes to sit and do school with us and I just have her sit down with a workbook and art supplies and she is happy.

My 2 year old DS is a different story.  He isn't happy sitting at a table for very long and if I try art things with him, he needs so much help that I can't give my older son the attention he needs.  We were trying to do most of our serious school stuff when he napped, but his naps are getting shorter and shorter.  LOL!

I would love to know what tricks you have found to keep the little kids happy and occupied.

 

Date Posted: 2/25/2008 4:39 PM ET
Member Since: 6/10/2007
Posts: 10,401
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Depends on how "little"...

My four year-old loves to play in the sink. We scoot a chair up to the sink, fill it with warm water (and sometimes a squirt of dish soap). I have a small bin of kitchen tools that she uses to measure and pour the water. Keeps her busy for a good 30 to 45 minutes at a time, and I can keep an eye on her, since we school in the kitchen.

Dried lentils are fun, too. Lay out a tarp on the kitchen floor and provide lentils and measuring utensils.

A simple pie crust recipe, a rolling pin, and some cookie cutters will yield play time AND a snack. Sprinkle the cut-outs with cinnamon and sugar and a snack will pop out of the oven!

Keep a bin of "school time only" toys that come out when you need some peace and quiet.

Date Posted: 2/25/2008 8:16 PM ET
Member Since: 10/3/2007
Posts: 1,056
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Here's a link to a ton of ideas of activities to do with Preschooers.

"Paula's Archives - Preschool Activities"   It will take you awhile to look through all of these.

http://www.redshift.com/~bonajo/preschool_activities.htm

Date Posted: 2/25/2008 9:05 PM ET
Member Since: 8/28/2006
Posts: 70
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Chalk & board, Dry Erase markers - let them write on the windows, oven door, just about any surface you can wipe clean.  Spray bottle and sponge with 1/2 hydrogen peroxide and let them clean all the counter tops.  Mine used to love to sweep and mop the floors.  Most of these required little supervision once taught some simple instruction.  Also, younger ones have earlier bedtimes so that allows at least 1 hr extra time at night and if you wake your oldest earlier he can get a little extra work time in the mornings, also let him read stories to the others, math songs can be fun for all not just the one learning the times tables, addition, subtraction, etc...

Just a few ideas...

 

Date Posted: 2/25/2008 9:48 PM ET
Member Since: 8/24/2006
Posts: 312
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Maybe you could get some kids audio books the tape reads the story and chimed when you should turn the page my youngest loved those. She loved sorting mixed beans and noodles into diffrent containers and she liked the magnet abc letters they can use them on the fridge or on a cookie sheet.

Date Posted: 2/26/2008 11:29 AM ET
Member Since: 12/5/2005
Posts: 20
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I currently have a 2-year-old and homeschool three others. It has always been a challenge but she wants to do what the bigger kids are doing--her way! I usually let her watch a video if I need the quiet so I can teach something new. Otherwise, she gets to draw or color, look at books, play with her toys, or chase the cat. Earlier she climbed the bunkbed ladder with a tennis racket in her hand to reach the cat, who was hiding from her.

If you need absolute quiet, then you have to let your 2-year-old think he is getting into something. He won't make a peep! I have a bunch of old cassettes that my 2-year-old pulls the tape out of, which keeps her occupied and quiet for a very long time. She's my 6th child, by the way, and they've all been different. My third child loved water when he was that age. I could put him in the tub and let a small stream of water come out of the faucet, give him cups, and he would watch them fill up, dump them out, fill them up, for at least a half hour. I still had to keep checking on him, but the other two were able to work in quiet.

Small beans, lentils, or anything small did NOT work for my 4th boy, who swallowed anything he could. He once got into the buttons in my sewing box and swallowed about 50 of them. I know this because I was the one who changed his messy diaper the next day! So if you have a swallower, I don't recommend letting him play with very small items.

I do like stickers, however. I once read that a mom who had to take her young child on a flight gave her a bunch of stickers to put on herself, and it kept her occupied for a good portion of the flight. I give my girl stickers that aren't very sticky so that if she decides to decorate the walls or furniture I can pull them off easily. Usually, though, if she has a lot of them, they all end up stuck together. This has worked well for both of my girls. They seem to love being able to put stickers all over themselves.

This last one I also read about somewhere years ago. The couple had a very active, very STRONG, toddler. So they would let him move bricks from one spot to another to keep him occupied. My third boy, the one who liked water, was also very strong, and I would "let" him move heavy objects as long as he had shoes on. It does work, but I don't recommend this for every toddler, of course. If you have a lot of books, you can see if he likes "arranging" them.

Then there are the usual duplo blocks, Brio mec blocks, and tinker toys. These can keep any child occupied for long stretches of time.

Michele

Date Posted: 2/26/2008 2:55 PM ET
Member Since: 7/2/2006
Posts: 1,620
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Thank you all for the great ideas!  Most of my frustration now is because we are trying to sell our house and keep it clean so most of things I was using to keep him busy before made big messes!!!  He is not the sit down and color type so it is good to hear some other ideas that aren't too messy. 

Date Posted: 2/27/2008 4:15 PM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 36
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I found that I could get a lot of instruction done during meal times - while the 2 year old is eating breakfast, snack, lunch, another snack - you can be doing the more intense teaching with the older child(ren).  I've even stuck my then-2-year-old in the bathtub for a morning bubble bath and sat in the doorway with one eye on her, while working with one of my sons.  Sometimes we would have to do a bit of work in the evening when my husband was home to distract and entertain also.  Just remember, they grow up SO fast and enjoy it all while you can! 

Blessings,

Vicki

Date Posted: 2/27/2008 10:28 PM ET
Member Since: 10/3/2007
Posts: 1,056
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Michele L,

My children liked just about all the toys you mentioned. Anything you can connect and build with was great in their eyes.  

When my son was preschool age he loved tinker toys. That was one set of toys that ,for awhile ,we only brought out for him to play with when I needed him to  be occupied and having fun while I spent some instruction time with his older sister.

At that age any  activity will only hold their attention  for so long and then they will need something else to keep them busy. You can never have too many ideas.

When he was toddler and preschool age I let him make a big, fun mess in the living room just about every day. He loved to build with giant mega blocks. He would make himself chairs large enough to sit in, and trains, etc. Also really tall robots that would eventually fall over when he built them too top heavy.

He also liked to pull the dining room chairs together in the living room and drape sheets and blankets over them to make a fort.

During the toddler and preshcool age I had my children take "naps" still. Even though they got to where they didn't fall asleep anymore they still needed to stay on their bed for that hour or 45 minutes and quietly occupy themself. They could play with a toy or look at books, whatever, as long as they were quiet and did not get up to interrupt me.

Sometime during the day it can be refreshing to have a break from the constant noise and movement and the children can get use to being able to quietly entertain themself for at least an hour in their busy day.

Sherry

Date Posted: 2/27/2008 10:36 PM ET
Member Since: 10/3/2007
Posts: 1,056
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I  would like to add one comment about strong toddler boys. They will pick up things that are too heavy for them at times and can injure themself. A friend of ours son gave himself a hernia when he was a toddler by picking up something too heavy. He had to have surgery to repair the hernia. It's been so long ago I don't remember the details right now about what the object was that he picked up or if they even knew for sure what it was.  But toddlers have no concept that picking up heavy objects can injure them, until after something  does hurt them.

Sherry

Date Posted: 2/28/2008 12:28 AM ET
Member Since: 12/5/2005
Posts: 20
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I agree about picking up things that are too heavy. My 2-year-old daughter is very strong and will try to pick up things that I have a hard time lifting, so she has to be watched all the time. She'll pull a full gallon of milk out of the fridge and try to carry it to the table. She was carrying the guitar around the other day and it is bigger than she is! We never had any bricks lying around for our boys to move, but we did have old World Book encyclopedia volumes and they were happy moving those around. Also, cans of tomatoes, buckets of water (outside), Daddy's shoes, etc.

And it's true that they grow so fast. My boys are 22, 21, 16, and 14 now. It's hard to believe they were shorter than me at one time.

Michele

Date Posted: 2/28/2008 4:51 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2007
Posts: 73
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I was just thinking I should find/make a list of things to rotate for my daughters. Keeping the little ones occupied while doing lessons with their big brother has been my biggest challenge this year, too.

Anyway, I came across this post: http://proverbswife.blogspot.com/2008/02/occupying-toddlers-while-home-schooling.html

It has lots of good ideas.

And here are a couple of simple, funny ideas from my website:

http://reflective.homeschooljournal.net/2008/02/27/preschool-activity-wind-bags/

This was from last summer:

http://reflective.homeschooljournal.net/2007/08/27/desperation/

It definitely helps when the weather is nice. We leave the back door open, and the girls play contently.

Thanks for all the great ideas! I am sometimes very short on practical ideas.

 

Date Posted: 3/27/2008 9:19 AM ET
Member Since: 9/19/2007
Posts: 114
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Wow, that bean idea has been too much of a success at our house.  I am typing this now because my homeschooler is in the box, too.  I have 4 lbs of dry beans in a 16 qt Rubbermaid container, with cups and funnels.  It's been over an hour and I still can't entice my older girl to do even art!

The beans are easy to pick up off carpet, too. 

Date Posted: 3/30/2008 6:00 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2008
Posts: 662
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This thread is chock-full of great ideas!  Everytime I think of something to post, I see that it's here already.  I don't have a preschooler at home, but I teach in the preschool room at my homeschool co-op.  I'm going to save this whole thread in a Word file so I can keep the ideas handy for myself, or to share.  (I feel more prepared for my 4 and almost-2-year-old nephews to come visit now....)  :)

One comment of my own:  When I need little people to be quiet or independent for a while, I usually have more success if I take some time to do something with them first, and get them to burn some energy.  Even if this took time away from the other stuff I was trying to get done, I was more likely to be uninterrupted.  Example:  "I'm going to read you a book, and then Mommy has to make a business phone call."    

To help my daughter burn energy when she was younger, I would "assign" her to run around our apartment building or back yard as fast as she could--usually more than once.  So long as I was willing to tell her what a fast runner she was, she was usually willing to do it again.  Then, sitting down wasn't quite as difficult.  At co-op, if I need the kids to sit for a project, I'll do some very active circle-time moving songs first.

One job that kept her busy at age four (and amused my neighbors):  I gave her some kid-safe scissors and sent her into the back yard to "trim" the grass around our shed.  (We had just moved into a house, and we didn't have a lawn mower yet, so there was plenty of high grass to keep her busy.)  Hee hee.

Subject: Love the creativity!
Date Posted: 4/1/2008 2:22 PM ET
Member Since: 2/18/2008
Posts: 2
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There are so many great ideas here, and I think it is funny how creatively deceptive most of them seem =)  Just allowing little ones to think they are doing something important, constructive, or unallowed seems to be a key for most kids.  My 1yo dd and 2 yo ds both find themselves in trouble often enough, but using some of these ideas will be great places to help direct them. 

I wanted to add the idea of doing crayon rubbings, too.  Using paper and flat but 3-d objects my kids enjoy seeing what magically appears as they rub a crayon across the paper that has been laid on top of the object.  This works great with leaves, but I also saw the suggestion of using sand paper pre-cut into shapes or letters.  It would be a fun way to create thank you cards or other correspondence from your little one.

Thanks for all the ideas!

Date Posted: 4/4/2008 9:50 PM ET
Member Since: 8/2/2007
Posts: 59,977
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You could set aside some toys that he only gets to play with while the others are doing school. My 3 yr old DD does school with the big kids. But when she gets tired of that I let her paint, color, watch a favorite TV show or do a simple craft. You could get some scrap paper or old magazines  and safety scissors and let him go to town.  She loves to do that, too.

I'm having trouble with my 1 yr old DS. lol He's into everything!

Subject: Two Words..
Date Posted: 4/4/2008 9:52 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 422
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Duct Tape!

I'm kidding, really! My baby is now 15 but there were times that I was sorely tempted.

Date Posted: 4/5/2008 1:35 AM ET
Member Since: 8/2/2007
Posts: 59,977
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Duct Tape!

ROFL. That's what my Dad says. I always tell him that it wouldn't work. They would just gnaw through. lol

Date Posted: 4/10/2008 9:44 AM ET
Member Since: 8/24/2006
Posts: 312
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I got an email today with this article about what to do with small children during school they have quite a few tips and tricks

http://www.knowledgequestmaps.com/article9.htm

 

hope this helps