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Keeping Little Guys Busy

34 Keeping the younger crowd busy during a homeschool day can be a constant challenge! You want them to have fun, you don't want to continually shush them or send them out of the room, but you would like for them to play somewhat quietly while the big kids study. Oh, and don't forget about the very short attention span!

So what do you do?

Plan ahead!

I have a whole shelf of activity boxes with preschool activities, and we have a rotation of toys stored out of sight to "surprise" them with. For example, we keep a giant box of castle-building duplos, Little People buildings and toys, play-doh and other sets stored away and bring them out once every couple of weeks. If it hasn't been seen in awhile, it's lots of fun and keeps their attention longer

Here are a few of our other "busy" activities:

The dress-up bear.

Computer time. Nicholas (almost 5) likes to play on PBS Kids or Nick Jr. Most of the CD games we have became outdated when we got a new computer this year, so we rely on online games.

Bean scooping. This is too easy. Just assemble an assortment of containers (we used individual applesauce bowls, snack bowls, and other odd, small containers), some dried beans, and spoons for scooping. I used measuring spoons in different sizes. Fill one container, and instruct the children to scoop the beans into the other containers. It takes great concentration!

We have all hard floors, so if they spill, we just sweep up when the kids are finished.

Of course, we also use coloring books, spiral notebooks for drawing (the .15 kind from WalMart), stickers on paper, a hole-punch with paper strips, and other fun, simple things. A break with some outdoor time also does wonders!
Tools for Tots has some great ideas for homemade learning activities that you can put together quickly and have them ready for your busy little ones! Several of the ideas I use in my activity boxes came from here. You can also do a google search for Montessori learning ideas for some hands-on activities.
But the biggest tip of all is to spend time with the youngest children first (reading, coloring, playing a game, singing, flash cards, or whatever your learning time includes) and then set them up with quiet activities. They will have had their "mommy time" and be content to play for awhile.
I have other ideas for these younger kids here and here.
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