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One of the common questions I hear of busy moms of young children who are thinking about homeschooling is what to do with the younger ones while homeschooling the older ones. I am happy to help with some ideas that have worked for me. I am now on a full school day for my fourth child, and my fifth is in preschool, so I do have a little experience on this one. Babies are just babies and more unique to themselves in what they each need, but the things I will share here are good for about 18 months onward give or take depending on your child/children.
While the list of educational toys and games is endless and wonderfully helpful, my goal here is to give you some “out of the box” ideas on what has worked for us. I will highlight a few of our tried and true toys that all my kids have loved through the years, but my overall purpose is to give you some ideas of inexpensive ideas with things you can make or maybe even things you have around the house already.
This same principle applies to electronics. There are some amazing apps and handheld type electronics that don’t need to be counted out by any means, but I will only highlight a few of our favorites as an overall whole in this series.
There are also endless ideas with things like playdoh, paints, and more craft type stuff, but my purpose here also is to give you ideas for things kids can do completely on their own without a mess for you to deal with when you finish teaching
- My number one things is CD’s that I have recorded for them. This is a bit time consuming in getting them ready initially, but it is well worth the investment. I recorded my voice doing all those things you would do with your child if you were there. Nursery rhymes, sang songs, worked on various skills like counting, opposites, saying the alphabet, told or read Bible stories and just talked in addition to reading some of their favorite books. Each CD that I made was about a half hour long, and I recorded six different ones. I am to the point now where I need to make some more. Make sure to write down what books you read on which CD so you can give them the books to follow along with each particular CD
- Busy bags. These are all over Pinterest and will vary according to the interests to your child, but these are great. I will share some of our favorites in another post. Another cool option is to hold a busy bag swap. If you had six moms involved, you would have six different busy bags chosen ahead of time and assign one specific bag design to each different mom. They would have to make the bag six different times, and then you would just swap them. Much less expensive and generally less time consuming to only make one thing several times than it would be to make each different thing, but the end result is the same in that you will have six different bags in this example
- Torn or cut colored paper in all shapes and sizes, a glue stick, and regular colored paper to glue them all to. This is a hit because it is a craft, but it requires no supervision
- Beads and beans and a simple muffin tin. They can sort them by color or size in the various cups, string them on simple strings or skinny rope either randomly or following a pattern that you develop ahead of time. I find it is helpful to have them do this on a blanket. It makes them easier to pack up. I also have them play with these inside a disposable roasting tin. You can find these at most dollar stores
- Felt boards. If you can find these somewhere, I find them to keep little ones entertained for quite some time. Encouraging them to act out a particular story can be fun and at times be less overwhelming than having to think of something on their own. Otherwise figurines or even just Little People figures to act out specific assigned stories with. These are similar to the ones we have, and mt kids love them
Sassafras / Fun Time Felt Board, Working on the Farm, Set of 4 Felt Storyboards w/ Storage Bag – Diving, Dinosaurs, Zoo Animals, Outer Space, and Set of 4 Felt Storyboards w/ Storage Bag – Three Little Pigs, Gingerbread Man, Goldilocks, Red Riding Hood
Here are just five of our tried and true things that keep our younger ones busy while we are trying to have school time. I realized that further posts will be needed to cover more. This list is comprised of things that are free or close to free since there are numerous things you can find to buy these days. I will share some of our favorites in tomorrow’s post.
Don’t forget this is part of a homeschooling series taking place here every day this week. Here is the way the series will break down:
Day Two: a continuation of today
Day Three: older kids keeping busy
Day Four: older kids helping school younger ones
Day Five: organization