Today’s guest post is by Melissa from HopeSprouts.
My oldest daughter, Bels, and I started homeschooling kindergarten last year while my youngest progressed into an investigative toddler. While we were pretty relaxed in our lessons, there were still times when I needed some quiet one on one time with Bels. This was mostly while she was doing reading lessons.
Naptime was a natural place to start while looking for some quiet time, but by using that time for reading lessons it created some problems. First, I didn’t get a break during the day to read or work on the less kid-friendly projects I had. Second, Bels didn’t get enough downtime for resting. Thus began my search for toddler-friendly activities that could be done quietly alongside us.
I have been asked by a few friends who are beginning their first year in their homeschooling journey for a list of the activities Ava does while Bels and I “do school.” Here is what we do. Not everything works on every day, but with variety, most days SOMETHING works!
1. Cheerio necklaces– Thread 2-4 cheerios on a long piece of yarn. If you plan to use a plastic needle (as opposed to a piece of tape) thread that also. Tie the ends of the yarn together. If you are using tape, tape the ends of the yarn form a “needle” for threading on cheerios. Provide a large handful of cheerios and a little instruction and your toddler will be practicing fine motor skills, having a snack, and staying occupied! (This has been very travel-friendly for us. The kids both love making the necklaces in the car or on a plane and then snacking on them later).
2. Knob Puzzles- Large knob puzzles are great for toddlers. My daughter loves puzzles with animals. Melissa and Doug make a great barn puzzle. Shape puzzles or dress up puzzles are also great. Avoid alphabet or number puzzles. Generally, they have too many small pieces and are hard to match for smaller children.
3. Water– A dish tub or large pot half-filled with water and set on the floor on a folded bath towel provides hours of fun. Throw in some measuring cups, a big wooden spoon, and some dish soap for added fun.
4. Play-doh– I can not begin to sing all the praises of this miracle toy. Both kids love play-doh. If your toddler is small and you are concerned about them eating it, try making your own. Mix 3 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 3 tablespoons oil, and 1 cup water together. There are tons of other recipes out there. You can add jello or kool-aid mix for color and scent (and flavor).
5. Put a lid on it– Give your child some Tupperware and lids and let her try to match the tops.
6. Put stuff in a container- Save a large margarine or cool whip container and its lid. Cut a hole in the lid and put the lid on the container. Give your child a variety of safe sized objects to put inside. Cheerios or crackers can also work for this. Other items that work great are clothes pins, Velcro rollers, shoelaces, old gift bows, or little people toys.
7. Cornstarch and Water- This is a winner with even the adults in our house. Mix the cornstarch and water and have fun. It is hard when squeezed or pounded, and goopey when touched gently. (For family fun in the summer, put on your swim suits, grab a bucket and mix a ton of this up. We love to play catch with it and then run in the sprinklers to clean off).
8. Rice- Put a couple pounds of rice in a large tub. Give your child small bowls, shovels, margarine tubs with holes in the bottom (big enough for the rice to come through), etc. Most sand toys work well with rice.
9. Stickers and Stamps- I get tons of free address labels and stickers in the mail. I save them all. Especially the ones from book clubs and movie clubs. When we need some quiet time, I get out a large sheet of paper, a couple sheets of stickers and some stamps and let may daughter play. These stamps from Melissa and Doug are really nice.
10. Toys- Blocks, giant Lego’s, dolls, stacking cups, sorting blocks, etc. All the usual stuff. Sometimes, you just need a classic!
So that is what we do! What have you tried that has worked?
When she isn’t reading, baking or digging for lost shoes, Melissa can be found blogging at HopeSprouts
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