20 Ways to Keep Toddlers Busy While Homeschooling
Here are twenty great ways to keep toddlers busy while homeschooling… and none of them include electronics! When you have these things on hand and rotate them your toddler will always have fun with their ‘new to them’ toy. You can even set a timer for 30 minutes. Tell them that they only have 30 minutes to play with this toy and then the toy will be put away until next week. That will entice them to get full use of their time with that toy. If they grow weary of that toy before they 30 minutes I remind them that they can’t play with it again until next week. I also just tell them that they can sit and do nothing for the rest of the 30 minutes or they can enjoy the toy...it’s their choice. :)
Playdough - This is super fun for toddlers. Here is an easy recipe to make your own.
Coloring books - Keep a couple in a bag with some crayons for on the go use too!
Puzzles - Wooden puzzles that are age-appropriate area always great to have on hand. As they get better at mastering the puzzles you can get ones that are a little more complex.
Blocks - A basket of plain wooden blocks can provide hours of fun as they explore and get more creative with age.
Stencils - Plain paper, stencils and pencils can allow your budding artist to have fun and create a picture that anyone will recognize and applaud them for.
Books - Have a basket of special books that they can only look at during these times you need to keep them happily entertained.
Sorting shapes or colors - pour a bunch of dried beans in a bowl and provide them with a cupcake tin or cups. Ask them to sort according to color. Another option is to give them colored foam shapes and ask them to sort according to shape.
Animals figures - purchase a farm or a zoo of small animal figures for them to play with during times that they need to be quiet. Let their imagination soar.
Building toys - Having on hand these types of toys can provide not just hours of fun but for years to come. They seem to grow with children. Legos, Duplos, Lincoln Logs, Gears etc.
Mother’s Helper - put them to work! Get them some kids size cleaning supplies and ask them to sweep the floor, dust the bookshelf or wipe the baseboards, You may find that they are very detailed.
Little Tykes playhouse - There are many different small house or barn type toys available these days. They come with little figurines or animals and pack up with all the contents inside. It can be great to take with you to dance lessons or music lessons too.
Make a tent - you can of course buy a kids tent but you can also make one yourself out of sheets. Building a tent and then playing (or even doing school) in their secret hide-away was a favorite of my children.
3-D art projects - With a couple of different kinds of dried beans, some penne and rotini pasta, a bottle of Elmer’s glue, and some card stock paper or poster board as a base your artist will create some beautiful 3-D artwork.
Trains and cars - Boys will love them and girls will take their stuffed animals for a ride. :)
Dolls or stuffed animals - Girls will love them and boys will form an army and prepare for war. :)
Chalkboard wall - If you paint one whole wall with chalkboard paint you will not only have a great board to teach from when needed but it will provide an opportunity for your toddler to play teacher or just draw life-size art.
Dress-up - One of my kid’s favorite things to do was play dress-up. We collected articles of clothing that resembled cowboys, ballerinas, firemen, policemen, knights, queens and kings, soldiers, or anything else that looked like fun.
Snacks - eating a snack can take more time than you think. As they get older they can do part of the prep work too. They can peel the mandarin orange or even cut the peppers. Did you know that there are knives made that don’t cut little fingers but do cut softer foods so that kids an learn to cut on their own?
Buddy time - If you have many children in your family, one of the best ways all around to entertain a toddler is to assign them a buddy or sibling to play with them for 30 minutes. If you have 3 or 4 older siblings this could get you 2 hours of uninterrupted time to work with the other children and only cut into the sibling’s school day 30 minutes each. The side long term benefits are that the toddler develops a good relationship with each of the older siblings and the siblings get one-on-one babysitting experience.
Audiobooks - ok this one does use technology but not video and it has a different twist. You could record yourself reading some of your child’s favorite books. Make sure to use a sound like a ringing bell or a note on the piano to help them to know when to turn the page. They will love listening to your voice while reading their book. This could easily fill 30 minutes and they would love it!
Having many different options of easy to access entertainment for your toddler is what will keep you from reaching for your phone or the TV to entertain them when you are trying to get other things accomplished.
Don’t just survive...THRIVE!