Thursday, September 26, 2013

Toddler/Preschool Time

 A while ago, a few readers asked me for suggestions for activities 
for littler kids during school time
I am absolutely no expert on this,
as most days my littles are crying at my side while I'm trying to teach.
But getting used to a schedule and routine is hard for them too.
They are not used to mama being busy (like that anyway)
Actually looking at this past month of pictures
makes me wish I could do just preschool, 
but I can't do that, and I'm guessing you can't either,
So my advice
is simple:

fit whatever you can in, whenever you can.
small, big, reading, painting, coloring, cooking
include them in everything you can.

Pushing them off to "play" is not going to cut it
(for them or you)
(trust me, I know this from experience)
I'm not saying that doesn't still happen, because it does,
but if there are back up plans,
 it fills some of the time for them and you.
 Bake with your kiddos!  
Big kids can bake with them too,
 they are probably more patient than you anyway...
 Gosh, isn't she just a dolly?

 Let your kiddos paint!!!  
It cleans up! 
Use washable paint (found at Wal-mart)
or use water paint (it's even cleaner)
We have lots of paper, I buy copy paper reams, 
or Tom brings home papers from work and we use the backside.
 Just remember, it will get messy...
There will be lots of smiles and their finished product 
won't look anything like what you would paint.
 This is important for type A personalities
 Use Q-tips and aprons, or old tees, because they will get it all over.
(they will)
Remember, it washes up!
 They will mix the paint, but that's good!! 
 That is how they learn!!
 So good for little fingers...
Look how proud he is of his work

 "What did you say?"
 "It's time to clean up?"

 "I am not letting go of my paint stuff!"
"I am not done!"
 There will be temper tantrums when it's time to clean up
 Let them sing and play on the piano....
 Make sure they get outside!! 
I put my big kids in charge as they get done with school
 Let them play with water....and mud!!
 I love how he's so cold here, you can see his ribs, 
but he's not letting go of that hose for anything!
 There has to be reading time!!  
Even if it's only one story, which actually never happens
because when I say only one story, they beg for 2 or 3 or a whole pile...
My point?  Take time to read,
 even if you only can spare time for one or two books!
 You will foster a love for books and catch  moments like this one!  
(She's reading Have You Seen My Cat? by Eric Carle)
 Oh, they will crawl in and under things
 And probably bonk their head on the way
 Just one of the many distractions within a day....
 Trampoline=best purchase ever.
Let them jump!!
 and run!!!
I dare you to not giggle watching them on the trampoline!
 Play dough, play dough, play dough
 Oh, how I love you!
You are cheap, soft and occupy them for looong periods of time!
 Some pinterest idea somewhere...
use tooth picks or kabob sticks and put cheerios on them
 They both loved it!
 He ended up  liking the sticks better than the cheerios...
(I cut the kabob sticks into different lengths)
Force your boys
Ask your boys to share their loose legos with the little kids
This will occupy them for hours!
 Make cool, fun, good-smelling "Soap Dough"!!
 Equal amounts of shaving cream and cornstarch, and a little food coloring
 It is messy...just a warning.
Very messy.
 And very distracting for the older kids who are supposed to be doing their schoolwork.
 Books, books, books...have lots of books!
(and packing tape for mending books!)
 Pinterest fail
It was supposed to be a rain noisemaker
It said to fill a bottle with toothpicks (lots of toothpicks)
put some rice in it and put on the lid.
The problem is when you move it, 
all the tooth picks go to one end, they don't stay all messed up 
so it was STUPID
but it took up some time and she stickered up the bottle when she was done.
 Be prepared for messes.
And then, remember you LIVE here.
It's OK
 Clean mud!
This is Baking Soda with water.
You put a lot of baking soda in a bowl or container
and then add water slowly to the consistency you want
Think "Clean mud"
We still have it in a sealed container and pull it out, 
It seems to be saving good.
It will be messy
Very very very messy
and the baking soda looks like you've cleaned the counter 
with your soapy dishrag, but it will dry chalky...several times.

Just warning you.
 Magnets and magnet things like this occupy time
I have a container of magnets that I've saved 
since I was in High School! 
 (I used to put magnets in my locker)
Whenever there are free magnets, I take them!
 I take it out and let them put them on the filing cabinet, the fridge
and the door!
We also have a magnetic write on/wipe off board.
Lots of crayons, markers, and pencils
and lots of scrap paper!
We lost a few pieces of our old game
so recently bought a new one
(They have gone way down in price, $19.99 at Wal-mart)
I saved the old game and the littles play it while we play the new game!
Win win!

 All they need is a little time
 And I promise you...
they will steal your heart! 

Other ideas:
Shaving cream play on a tray
Play dough, play dough, play dough
Oops, did I already say that?
I have an extra Saxon Math Manipulative box
just for the littles to play with! 
(I bought it years ago when it was only 50 bucks)
(so yes, I have 2--one for using for school and one for the littles)

My world is not perfect, not even a little close to that,
but I hope this helps a little!


  1. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!! I've never been good at preschool projects, and I'm out of practice since my kiddos have such big gaps in their ages (19, 16, almost-14, 8, 3, and 2). My little ones will love these. Thank you! :o)

    1. Oh, good Wendy! If you are visual like me, it helps to actually see it! It seems to make it easier or something!

  2. And I meant to say how adorable those pictures are. :o)

  3. Thanks for all the great ideas! Can I just come to your house? You have so much fun stuff!

    My kids love play-doh and books here. My 18 month old still puts almost everything in her mouth at least for a second to see what it tastes like. She loves shampoo, soap, and lotion. We have to hid it from her! So I'm not sure if I can pull off the all the different 'mixes' your kids like to play with. My 3 year old also likes to throw things especially when excited, I think that clean mud would end up on my walls and ceiling, but it looks like so much fun so hopefully I won't have to wait too long to try some of those things out.

    1. Oh, Simeon just in the last month (so around 20 mos) started not eating everything he sees!! SO he can do playdough and things like that, like even Legos!! SO it won't be long Kari!

      Oh, and I didn't say it didn't end up on the walls and ceiling! :) I said it was messy!!

  4. So many wonderful ideas, Jamie Jo!

    What joy in your house...

    Thanks for all the great ideas and pictures.

    I love them all, but my favorite is you reading to your sweet babes. : )

    Have a great night, dear friend.

  5. LOVE this, forwarding it on to my friend who is nervous about homeschooling while she has littles.
    And... totally took your advice on the playdough thing and it is SO WORTH IT. The cream of tartar for the playdough costs almost as much as name-brand playdough. Thank you: I would have never thought so!

    1. Yay!! I know, right? That homemade stuff gets kind of smelly after a while too...

      I'm still planning on answering your email....promise!

  6. Looks like my home. :-) I will add two color activities that are always a hit (and a distraction to older ones too!).

    Baking soda and vinegar. I usually dump the BS on a disposable plate. I color the vinegar (for extra fun) and then the kids use an eye dropper to drip it on.

    The second idea is to put colored water in half an egg carton. Use eye dropper to move water around and mix colors.

    Music and dancing are big around here.

    You are absolutely right - fit it in whenever you can.

    1. OH, my gosh, can't wait to do that vinegar one!! I need droppers though!! Maybe medicine droppers, I'll look tomorrow!

      Our egg cartons are cardboard...I'll have to get some of those foam ones...

      Oh, yes, dancing!! Love you Nicole!

  7. This was awesome. Great great ideas. But the pictures of your little ones are so sweet. melts my heart.

    I love that Pinterest.
    Ava also loves pounding golf T's into a foam board. Another idea I got from there.

    Outside is my fav. anywhere, anytime, outside.

  8. Gah I can't wait until Christopher stops trying to eat EVERYTHING and we can do more learning activities. Well we still do some of them. We finger paint with pudding and applesauce that's been colored and we read like crazy. But I can't wait until we can pull some of these off! Thanks for the great ideas and seriously... how adorable are your littles?!

  9. Jamie, this post is so SO you. In other words, it's wonderful.

  10. I'm leaving a comment!! Can you believe it?! W O W…
    I've stopped in off and on, but I think it's been like a year since I commented last. That's, like, completely ridiculous. Anywho, loved this post and LOVED all the fabulous photos. My goodness, Simeon just melts my heart every time. That trampoline shot is the best. It's not easy to homeschool with toddlers and babies, but it would be so boring without them, right? It's so true that you just need to give them attention and time; read, craft, bake and love. I will often switch out with the older kids in helping the younger school kids while spend time with the baby and the 3 1/2 yr. old and then swap out and let the younger play/entertain the baby and toddler while I go over things with the older kids. It's crazy and messy, but somehow it works out. At least for my lowered standards it works. :)

    God love you, Jamie, and that sweet family of yours. <3

  11. Gosh...all of these pics are so cute :) I especially loved the one of Big Red's tantrum. That's an awesome shot to show him when he's older - her her :) And for some reason, he seems older than his age. He's doing a lot more than Miss Clementine who is only a month younger. I need to start letting her play more like your little ones!

  12. A post worth it's weight in gold! Birthday candles in play dough are a hit here. I am looking all over for my skewers today. They must be in the camping tubs.


Thank you so much for stopping and commenting!


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