A lot of people told me that I wouldn’t be able to homeschool my girls if I had another child. This tongue-in-cheek comment made me say, spitefully I may add,
“Just watch me.”
I was back to homeschooling my girls when my son was less than a month old. That year, I relied heavily on a complete Oak Meadow Curriculum, to save time on planning, but I still did it.
It really wasn’t so hard with a newborn. The toughest thing was being sleep deprived, but I pushed through and actually, we had a pretty good 3rd grade year. It wasn’t until my son became MOBILE that it was somewhat difficult.
He’s what you would call a “spirited child”- he would crawl up on the table and throw papers. He wanted to sit in on spelling tests (he still does this). He also wanted me to hold him AND breastfeed him AND let him help me teach..all at the same time.
What this boiled down to was a couple of things: number one, he wanted to participate in our morning rituals, and number two, he was downright bored. I knew I had to do something because nobody’s needs were being met.
There had to be some sort of balance to all of this…right?
Bringing in the Play
What I realized eventually was that my son was not like my girls.
No, he was not going to “go play”. And he definitely should not play alone anyway, since he wants to get into everything (making unsupervised playtime a safety issue).
Nope, he needed to be in the room with us while we homeschooled. Most importantly though, he needed to be acknowledged and entertained, as to not be a huge disturbance during lessons.
And so I do what most mamas do when they are desperate- I jumped on pinterest and started surfing for ideas.
There are a lot of wonderful looking ideas on pinterest. They make super cute pictures and adorable blog posts and you wish that you were smart enough to think of them. Yet a lot of the sensory play activities takes lots of time, is a food waster, and is extremely messy. Yes, the dyed rice is pretty and I want to do it, but I know I’ll just be picking little bits of rice off the floor. Rice that could be in my tummy and not embedded into my carpet.
And so, the hunt was on for simpler activities. Something that could be whipped up in a flash. Something somewhat organized…
Activities to Entertain Your Toddler While You Homeschool
The following activities are my top picks for quick and engaging toddler play. Below each activity you will see a link to the original post.
I’m not normally a “round up” blogger, but I felt the strong need to put this out there. I know there are plenty of other homeschooling mamas that are tired like me, and just need someone to tell them what works. So I’ve done the work for you! Lol!
The best thing about a quick activity is that you don’t have to waste YOUR time to see if your child likes it in the first place! 2 minutes lost is not as big of deal as 30 minutes lost (on dying rice…but isn’t it beautiful?).
I let my son sit at the table while he is immersed in play, and I continue to homeschool my girls. Sometimes it buys us more time, and other times he is not amused. But, he feels part of our rhythm and that’s the most important thing.
Paint By Cotton Ball
I love this activity because it’s a twist on regular painting. Sometimes, all you need to do is make a little tweak and your child thinks its a brand new activity! Click here to read the original post.
X Marks the Sticker
Easiest set up EVER. Just grab a piece of paper and a sheet of stickers. Place X’s on the paper and have your toddler place a sticker on each X. Great for eye-hand coordination! Click here to read the original post.
Cereal and Play Dough and Pasta
Ok, so it’s a little bit of a food waster. But not by much. I took homemade play dough, stuck some spaghetti in it, and let my son loop the cereal onto the pasta. He eventually breaks the pasta and smashes the cereal into the play dough with his fists, but it still keeps him entertained nonetheless. Click here to read the original post.
Google Eye Potion
This one is just fun and cute. While adult supervision is very important with this, I was surprised by how long my son sat there and played. Make water purple, and it becomes magical! Mix liquid watercolors (or food coloring) into some water and throw in google eyes or whatever else you have on hand. Give them a ladle or a spoon to mix. Click here to read the original post.
DIY Car Wash
This can get somewhat messy (see picture), but at least it is only soapy water! My son loves washing his trucks and he also enjoys helping me wipe down the table afterwards! You just need a bowl of clean water and a bowl of soapy water. Show him how to scrub with soap and then rinse. Click here to read the original post.
Sorting and Gluing
I still have dyed beans from my mosaics activity (you can read about it here), so it was a no-brainer to use these as a sorting manipulative. We also place glue on a thick piece of cardstock and let him go at it.
One Last Thing
The real challenge when homeschooling with a toddler in the house is not necessarily about finding “busy work”, but more about finding balance. All of our kids need to feel like they are loved and heard. When my child is acting up during math, that is an indicator that we haven’t had a moment to really connect beforehand.
Our toddler’s temper tantrums are pointers for us to be better listeners AND communicators.
I know it doesn’t always happen, but I try to read my son a few books before school, or listen to him talk about his cars for the 50th time (that morning). I really try to make sure all my children feel like they have had some of my time, even if that is just a really long hug or a conversation or a meal together.
And as for homeschooling? We always find a way to make it work, and we roll with it:)
What do you do to entertain your toddler? Share in the comments below!