Oh toddlers! They are cute little balls of energy, full of curiosity and wonder that keep mothers on their toes!
They want to know what happens when they push that, pull this, reach in here, open this. They require lots of love, care, and attention and provide both exasperation and entertainment with their antics.
As a homeschooling mother, it can be especially hard to find activities to occupy the smallest in our families so that we can instruct our older children while also supervising accordingly to prevent the mischief that can follow toddlers around like a shadow.
Here are some of the fun and (mostly) educational things that I use to hold the attention of my newly turned two year old while I teach my oldest two.
1.) Wooden Puzzles
We recently purchased more of these because after over five years of use, our inventory had lost quite a bit of its
She plays with these almost daily, matching shapes and animals while calling out the various names loudly and/or making animal noises as well.
Never underestimate the power of food to distract a toddler especially if it is one of their favorites. I save the snacks that Lydia loves best for school time so that when she gets a bit fussy, I can say, "How would you like some yogurt?" or "Would you like Mommy to get you some strawberries?"
We do a good bit of our schooling in the kitchen, so this is very simple for us. Besides, didn't you know that highchairs can be used or practicing our monkey swinging??
These are so simple, yet provide endless ways to use imagination! We own an Elmo one (pictured above), a Noah's Ark one, a Disney's Cars one, and also a big set that includes numbers and animals. It's super easy to create your own felt board or you can just allow your child to play with the felt pieces alone. They are soft and pliable which makes them an excellent choice for small hands that aren't always gentle.
I typically make my own playdough(you can find instructions here). There are so many ways to make playdough (scented, natural, colored, edible) that this can be an activity that is so much more than what we remember from when we were small. I have a ton of different playdough recipes pinned on my Arts and Crafts board on Pinterest.
I'm not big on computer or screen time being essential for children under age 8 or so, but I discovered this website back when Gabriella was still a wee little one and it is just so much fun for the toddler set that I've continued to use it with Aron and now Lydia. It contains numerous educational games that toddlers can play alone because the only skill required for most games is the ability to push ANY key on the keyboard! There are games that teach shapes, numbers, letters along with games that are just visually fun for young children. There are plenty of games available for free, but for $20 a year or $5 a month, you can access even more!
Television is reserved as kind of a rare treat or a last resort for keeping Lydia entertained while school lessons are in progress. When I do allow it, I tend to stick to DVDs such as Letter Factory, Talking Words Factory, Math Circus, or Let's Go to School from LeapFrog to make it educational. Lydia LOVES the Letter Factory video best of all and sings the letter sounds songs frequently.
7.) Letter Magnets and a White Board
We have several sets of alphabet magnets and they are very easily found in stores or online for a minimal price. We have two sets on our fridge and then we also have two different styles of double sided drawing boards that she can utilize with the magnets.
8.) Dress up!
Never underestimate the power of a dress up box! It opens the door for all sorts of imaginative play and is just plain FUN! I hit clearance racks after Halloween to replenish or stock up ours. I also throw in random things that might be fun for them if I come across like wands, old purses of mine, pretty fabric swaths, hats, funny sunglasses, etc.
9.) Reusable Sticker Books
Most toddlers like stickers, but get frustrated when they peel and re-peel them until all stickiness is completely gone. I've started to keep a few activity books that include reusable stickers. These do eventually stop sticking, but most children can get quite a bit of use out of them before that happens. I've found themed books at Walmart for only $1.00 and all of my children love these activity books from Dover. The Dover books are only $1.50 on Amazon.
10.) Dry Erase Crayons
These are my most favorite recent schooling find! My oldest two love to play on white boards or dry erase lap board with dry erase markers, but the ink was always fading and running out. Then one day I was in a store and saw that Crayola had made dry erase CRAYONS! Brilliant! I scooped them into my cart and we ALL enjoy using them. In fact, since making that purchase I have not bought a single dry erase marker again! They are also WASHABLE which is a big plus for moms of small children. You saw our double sided drawing boards earlier in this post, but we also have these double sided lap boards from Board Dudes and the pictured Mickey Mouse activity table that you can draw on! We used to have a Dora themed one, but it bit the dust and we purchased this one to replace it. It's fun for toddlers to draw ON some furniture when typically they would be scolded for doing so!
Those are the top ten things that I use in our home to keep my toddler busy while I'm teaching (and sometimes cleaning, etc.). What do you do to engage your toddler?
This post is also shared with:
Growing Home, Raising Homemakers, Works for Me Wednesday, Top Ten Tuesday,Deep Roots at Home, The Better Mom, Far Above Rubies, Women Living Well