I usually have math and writing worksheets sitting out the night before so that they can be done before breakfast. I just add something for Rose.
- A toddler worksheet. Fisher Price makes some cute ones that can be found at dollar stores (particularly the Dollar Tree). Disney does as well. Rose doesn't do many of the instructions yet, but she does love to circle things. Older preschoolers will enjoy simple dot to dot, writing or prewriting activities, etc.
- Plain old coloring pages. Coloring books work fine, but you can score extra points for finding coloring pages that feature a favorite character online and printing those.
- Mix it up by offering washable markers and plain copy or construction paper.
- Try dry erase boards. We have several boards with the alphabet or math problems, but the littler ones seem to prefer the small board books with dry erase activities. Rose not only enjoys writing in them, but she can spend a fair amount of time meticulously cleaning it with a damp paper towel when she's done too. I usually find these at the Dollar General.
- True mischievousness can be checked with any kind of unneeded paper or magazines and a pair of scissors. Older kids will especially love cutting up old magazines and making collages on construction paper with a glue stick. Only problem with that idea is that your schoolers might want in on the fun too. But that could work to your advantage if they have to get their math done first...
Reading time is the hardest for me. Rose loves to read, but not the same books that I need to read for the kids. Sometimes I read her a few books first, then hand her a stack to look at. I also often have the older two take turns doing their reading aloud and playing with Rose doing puzzles or legos downstairs. Rose loves to sing and dance, though. So I often put on a music video for her in the playroom. (I should note here that "downstairs" is the name my kids gave our playroom which is through the doorway between our kitchen and living room where we do most schooling and is two steps down.)
Favorite videos that you don't have to feel guilty about because they're just real kids singing songs that your child is going to also learn and sing all day:
- Cedarmont Kids
- Miss Pattycake ( a little more than just kids singing)
- Hide 'Em In Your Heart
- Baby Genius
- Kidsongs (you can find these in the dollar DVDs at Walmart or dollar stores)
- Bible time. We've been reading a Proverb before the kids leave the breakfast table and often turn one into a song. Rose sings the Proverbs songs right along with us.
- Crafts can be adapted or they can do the same one. We have Tuesday as our designated craft day.
- Online learning games. Kids like to watch each other play. I give my kids appropriate games from our own game collection, library CDs, or online games. My favorite toddler game is Reader Rabbit Toddler, because you don't have to be able to use the mouse. The child just hits any (or many) keyboard key(s) for results. The Fisher Price website also has really cute preschool games, as does Between the Lions for the older preschooler.
- Field trips. Lots of them. The zoo, children's museums, nature centers. Very toddler and preschooler friendly ways to educate your children.
- Playsets that go along with the study. This is a new idea I've been playing with. why not let the kids play with a cowboy and Indian playset while you read to them about pioneers and the West. Or with toy horses while you read Misty of Chincoteague? I've found that kids are often less distracted when their hands are busy.
- Finding simple storybooks or non fiction books on the topic we're studying means that Rose will sit through the majority of our instruction time loving every minute.
- Little Touch Leappad has been a great asset to us. This is another activity that the kids can take turns playing with Rose while the other is reading without it being a distraction. It has a great volume control.
Here are some great websites with activities that will save the day by happily occupying your preschooler.
- Wondertime magazine's website has lots of great ideas, but best of all are their cutting pages.
- Nick Jr. has zillions of kid-friendly activities.
- PBS Kids
- A list of preschool activities.
- Boobah Zone
- Disney Magic Artist Online
I think that the bottom line is to plan for the toddler/preschooler rather than work around them. I think I've inspired myself to be even more proactive by writing Rose into my lesson plans, not necessarily on subject, but just with more of a plan for her activities at each point in the day. Of course, if she's happily occupying herself, I certainly won't interfere! unless, of course, it involves the toilet, the contents of her diaper, the contents of my make-up drawer...
Wendy was working on day-of-the week boxes for her preschooler.
Please leave your ideas and/or links to your own or others articles on this topic. What works for you?