10 Ways to Keep the Little Ones Busy While Homeschooling

By 8:00 AM , ,

Homeschooling with littles underfoot can be quite chaotic!  Not gonna lie, some days they are little tornadoes and the house is just a plain mess because they are getting into everything and putting nothing away...  Some days are quite peaceful and everyone is in a good mood and their little hands are kept busy...  And some days are just a mix of highs and lows!  No need to sugar coat-- it can get pretty crazy homeschooling with a 1, 3, 5, and 8 year old.  

Despite the highs and lows, I do have an "arsenal" of ways to keep my 1,3, and 5 year old busy while working with my oldest.  As I mentioned above, sometimes they work... sometimes they don't!  However, I am slowly learning that you just have to "go with the flow" and expect distractions.  

Here are my Top 10 Ways to Keep the Littles Busy While Homeschooling {in no particular order}.... 

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1. Art Supplies:
Our homeschool room and main living space has art supplies-- paper, scissors, markers, crayons, coloring books, stickers, etc. within reach so that my 3 and 5 year old can unleash their creativity whenever they want.  My 3 year old particularly loves stencils right now, and my daughter loves writing her numbers, ABC's, and words she finds in books!  Depending on their moods, this can keep them quite busy for a while!

2. Play Dough:
I mean, who doesn't love play dough?!  You can create monsters, learn about the seasons, work on letter and name recognition, explore shapes, practice 1:1 correspondence, etc. etc!  As you can see it is a great manipulative to use for so many early learning concepts, but it is also an amazing tool to use to strengthen those fine motor muscles-- which you know we love to work on since we even co-authored a TWO Books FULL of fine motor ideas-- 99 Fine Motor Ideas and the sequel, 100 Fine Motor Ideas!

3.  Busy Bags:
"Busy Bags" or "Busy Boxes" are a great way to keep little hands busy, however they do require some prep work by you.  So gather some ideas, send the kiddos out with dad or the grandparents, and have some quiet time putting together activities that can be used with minimal help from you, can be contained to a bag or small box, and can be re-used over and over again.  Here's some activities to get you started:
4.  Books:
I love having a house full of books!  In fact we spent Big Brother's 4K and 5K learning with literature based curriculum, Five in a Row.  We have books in each child's bedroom and in our schoolroom;  I hope having easy access to books, gives each of my children a love for literature.  Throughout the year we try to get over to the library about once every one or two weeks.  My kiddos love searching for "new" books and when we bring them home they spend the next half hour or so looking through them.  Depending on your library, it might be a nice change of pace to take your work TO the library!  Books to grab on your next library trip:

5. Snacks:
My kiddos love to eat!  And most times when their mouths are full of food, their hands and feet aren't so busy!  Of course, you could also use food to fill their bellies and work on some important early learning skills!

6. Outdoor Play:
Get them outside and let them run around and explore!  Blow some bubbles and stock up on some chalk.  My kiddos love to be outside playing with the water table and on our swing set in the spring and summer.  In the winter, my kiddos often layered from head to toe in their winter gear and just walked around in the snow on our deck.  Whatever they do, there is just something about the fresh air and open space that is freeing!  And if it is nice and not too distracting, head outside too and do some schoolwork! 

7.  Puzzles:
Each of my kiddos have enjoyed the task of putting together puzzles.  Every now and again, puzzles become the "in" thing to do in our home; therefore, during that week-long period, every puzzle has been put together and taken apart several times throughout the week!  And then their fascination with puzzles is over until the next "wave."  We have a variety of puzzles from cheap dollar store puzzles to nice expensive Melissa and Doug Wooden puzzles.  They are great to have on hand, and you might like to try this Simple Puzzle Sensory Bin Activity to make puzzles seem "new" again!

8.  Toys:
We have a stash of various types of building toys, educational toys, and toys for imaginative play.  Some favorites are: LEGO Duplos, Imaginext, MagnaTiles, ALEX Button Art, Place Value Blocks, play kitchen, etc!  The key to keeping the little ones entertained with toys while homeshooling is to try and have some sort of rotation schedule in place.  For instance, Monday is MagnaTile Day, Tuesday is LEGO Duplo Day... etc... that way it keeps these toys "new and fresh" to play with because they only get to play with them once a week.  So invest in some plastic bins to put these "high-interest" toys in and stash them away until the appropriate day.

9.  Age Appropriate "School" Work:
When it was just Big Brother, Little Sis, and newborn baby boy, I set up a series of Tot Trays for Little Sis to do while I worked with my oldest.  Sometimes she was interested and sometimes she wasn't, but she would often go down to the school room to see what was on her shelves so I know she liked the idea of having her own "school work," too.  She also LOVED to cut and paste when she was about 3, so I had a few Kumon workbooks for her, as well.

10.  And dare I say it... TV!! {GASP!}
In the words of my late pappou, "everything in moderation!"  Do they watch a show everyday?  Some weeks they do.  Some weeks we don't have any screen time at all.  With technology everywhere, I realize screen time has gotten a bad rap, but sometimes I just need them to zone out, so that I can zone in on a teacher intensive subject with my oldest.  And that is OK! 

Do you have a house full of littles, too?  I know these days can be challenging!  But hopefully these ten tips and ideas will get you ready to face the upcoming school year with success and inspires you to organize ways to keep your littles busy while homeschooling your older children!

I hope these ideas bless you in your homeschooling journey!

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