Keeping little ones busy so you can buy enough time to teach your older students is one of the biggest challenges homeschoolers face. I cannot overemphasize that these suggestions are merely that—suggestions. As one homeschooling mom to another. These are some things that worked for our family dynamics and in no way, shape or form should be held as “the standard.” So, feel free to take what works, improve what doesn’t or make your own “entertaining” method as deemed effective for your family and circumstance. After all, our children are small but only once in their life-time, so why spend that precious time trying to fit into a non-existent “cookie-cutter” homeschool circumstance?
Here are some practical suggestions for multitasking the ages that Dad can navigate too!
The following can be alternated between two or more home educators or you may choose to alternate these activities to give variance to the “norm.” These activities work exceptionally well if the older students are nearby, so that you are close enough in case they have a question or need assistance.
While in the kitchen set a small basin with mildly soapy water, plastic dishes (cups, spoons, small plates, etc.)
- Explain what it feels like to have wet hands. (compare your dry hands with their wet hands).
- You can show what dirty hands look like (place a mound of soapy bubbles on their hand) and “wash” it away in the bin of water, thus showing them “clean” hands. Reinforcing good hand hygiene.
- Show your student how you make bubbles and how they can use different objects to make bubbles (small piece of rope, cookie cutter, toilet paper card board tube, etc).
- Explain “dirty” dishes and show them how they become “clean.” –show them how mom, dad, family wash the dishes.
- While in water play, you can also discuss different colors of the dishes or shapes.
- You can dry and stack by shape or color as well.
- When play is over, you can sing the “clean-up” song and show your child how to clean up step-by-step.
- For variation in play, try using a few drops of food dye into the water and reiterate what color the water is throughout play (this can be changed every time you play with water)! Reinforcing color memorization.
You will need different colored stacks of disposable translucent plastic cups for the next activity. Introduce each color one at a time. If you begin your activity on a Monday with Red cups, then continue play with only the red cups for the rest of the week or until you feel certain your student is well versed with the color. Then introduce a second color and resume play with the two colors until your student is well versed with both colors, then introduce a third, etc. This is a slow-steady way to teach your child the color spectrum and will enable you to have fun while doing so!
- Build different shapes with the designated color of the cups in play.
- Stack different ways and count them while doing so. You can both count and then conclude; “It takes 10 cups to build (whatever)!”
- Fill each cup with a toy always suggesting to your student thusly: “Please place this ‘rubber duck’ into a red cup.” Praising each time they get it correct, and gently correcting when they get it wrong; “No. That is not a red cup. That is a blue cup.”
- Introduce simple adding/subtracting techniques. “3 Red cups plus 2 blue cups equals how many cups together?”
- Set the cups side by side or row by row and count together.
- Pre-fill the cups with a different amount of favorite toys in each cup. When it comes time for the activity, you and your child can count how many toys in each cup. This will reinforce number memorization.
- Use one of each color cup and show what a ¼ cup, a ½ cup, etc. looks like filled with water or sand, or coins, or play dough—the possibilities are endless).
Ice Cube Trays
Fill Ice-trays with small dinosaurs, cars, knick-knacks and freeze them mid-way through just enough where an icy crust forms around the object.
- Place cubes in a plastic clear container and “excavate” them out with a spoon.
- Place half-frozen ice cubes in small containers and draw a picture of the progress of each toy melting out of the cube.
- Discuss the scientific differences between hot and cold.
Bring a calculator, pad and pen (or pencil) with you and your student out to a grocery/store run.
- For smaller children draw (cut and paste small thumbnail pictures on a document and print it out) a list of simple items: a banana, grapes, toothpaste, etc., and check them off the list as you go.
- For older children, list the items (with pictures if you wish) and write the cost of each item as you go.
- Older students can tally up the cost (via calculator) to ensure you “don’t go over budget.”
- Elementary-aged students can read the nutrition labels as you go along.
- For younger students, point out colors of produce and other items.
Homeschool-Parenting is already a challenge so as you read this, I pray that the Lord continue to guide you and open the minds of all of your students as you fulfill the command to “Train up” your child (Proverbs 22:6, NKJV).
Plan your lessons, field trips and corresponding activities, take a big gulp of your rocket fuel in the morning (and sometimes refill in the afternoon), and fix your crowns! You a child of God, and He has given you some work to do!