I constantly get the question, “what do I do with my little ones while I am homeschooling my older ones?” It’s a very simple answer, let them participate in school as well. Your young ones look up to their siblings and want to be just like them. Why not use that to your advantage? This is your opportunity as a homeschooling leader to set the precedence that they too will be doing school, just as their older siblings when their XYZ age. Later on, trying to get them to sit down and do their “book work” will be a much easier process.
You say to yourself, “Okay, Amanda, do I give my newborn baby a crayon and piece of paper? Do I hand my 14-month-old a list of vocabulary words to write and spell out for me, while sitting quietly in a chair? Or maybe, do I hand my 3-year-old busy boy chalk and board filled with complex math problems and say “have at it, little one.”? The answer is, no. Sure, are there children out there that are prodigies and geniuses? Yes, but the reality is that’s not what most of us have been blessed with. Your newborn needs to be loved, fed, and changed, your 14th month old wants to run laps around the homeschool table just to be near you, and your 3-year-old busy boy can’t sit still long enough for you to tell him, “yes, we’ll go outside and play tag when school is over.”
As I mentioned above, let them participate in school as well. Below, I have listed my recommendations of ways to entertain your young one, while you teach your oldest his/her newest math lesson.
As you will see, some of these boxes have toys your child probably already has around. Just pairing them with a few flashcards or categorizing sheets, can turn something you have laying around the house into a learning activity for your little one. Just remember though, that these are for your homeschool day and not for playing purposes. Inform your little one that this only comes out during school.
***Please be advised that I am not an expert and you need to know your child before giving them anything that can be harmful to them. I am not recommending that you give these items to them and walk away. Watch your children, as it's your responsibility as a parent to give them appropriate items for their ages. This is merely what I have done for my children at this particular age.
BLACK & WHITE
As a society, we throw away so many useful items. All of the items on these cards were leftover from projects that would've otherwise been thrown into a drawer or trash. Just keep an eye out for black and white items, as this is very stimulating to an infant's brain.
6- 12 MONTHS
BALL COLOR MATCH
I took balls from our ball pit and rolled strips of folders to make them sit up like cylinders. I have included a link here to the set of the ball pit, balls we own.
A great fine motor activity.
NUMBER & LETTER BOX
I give my children numbers and letters along with a cookie sheet or muffin tin. Getting familiar with numbers and letters will help them as they learn their sounds and begin to read.
PRINCESS AND HER UNICORNS
My children love lacing things. I start them off with pipe cleaners or straws so that eventually their little fingers will be ready for the shoelaces.
LINCOLN LOG READING
In addition to the Old Blue Finds Phonics curriculum I use to teach our children how to read, they also play with Lincoln Logs that have the sounds and words on them. I enjoy seeing them play with activities that reinforce what I have already been teaching them. I just put a piece of tape in the middle of each log and write the sounds and words they have already been taught. Click here to view the set of Lincoln Logs we have, if you don't already have your own set. I have also seen an off-brand set in the clearance aisle at Walmart, so keep a look out.
As you can see above, all of our activities are nicely boxed in pencil boxes. If you’re looking at the right time, you might find a really good deal on them because they could get expensive if you pay full price. I found most of our boxes during the back to school sale or clearance at Walmart and Target.
If you like these ideas, take a look at my busy bag binder page to get some other ideas. Let me know below what your favorite activity box is.
Happy homeschooling and remember to “willfully serve His children” throughout your own homeschool day.