Having a preschooler when you have older kids to homeschool can be a challenge! It becomes a juggling act when you throw a baby or two in the mix…yikes!
When Cameron, my second-born, was almost 4 years old, he liked to push the limits with everything.
Remember the time (before you had kids) you were in the grocery store and you saw that kid. You know. The one you turned your nose up at and confidently declared you’d never have a child that acted like that.
That kid. Yep. That one was my second born. And yes, I remember naively declaring that I’d never have a child who acted like him *sigh*.
Suffice it to say, he could sometimes be difficult to keep him out of trouble (putting it mildly). I found the key to making it through the school day was to have lots of fun activities to keep him busy. I had an elementary-aged son and twin babies at the time, so it was important to have activities to keep my preschooler happy and busy!
Don’t get me wrong, we still had difficult days, but the more I had lined up for him, the better.
If you’re looking for fun ideas for how to keep preschoolers busy while you work with your older kids, read on!
14 Activities to Keep Preschoolers Busy While You Homeschool
- Do-a-Dot paints and books: These were a hit! We were able to make copies of the pages for our own use. The books are educational and helped Cameron learn his letters, numbers and colors. The best part for me was that they weren’t messy like traditional paints!
- vTech Tablet: Cameron referred to his vTech tablet as his “iPad.” An electronic gadget complete with touch screen that reads stories to your child, this learning tablet kept Cameron busy for quite some time. He enjoyed not just the stories, but the educational games included with each of the cartridges.
- Crayons, scissors, paper and coloring books: I had a healthy pile of these supplies to keep Cameron busy. We have a mass of crayons, special scissors that are easier for toddlers to handle, and various types of paper and coloring books. I was amazed at how long Cameron could sit and color, draw, or cut paper and stay perfectly happy.
- Activity books: Cameron especially enjoyed the Kumon tracing, maze and cutting books. There are dozens of downloadable homeschool activity pages for preschoolers, but when you’re a busy mama it’s nice to not have to sit and search the internet for new activity pages.Check out this downloadable early learning bundle perfect for keeping your preschooler busy. It includes:
- 26 A-Z Wikki Stix Fun Mats
- 26 Playdough Mats
- 26 Color-Your-Own Alphabet Picture Cards
- 10 Tracing Pages
- Lace and trace: These are a simple activity that helps to develop children’s fine motor skills. Since there aren’t many pieces and they’re not messy, these are great for the car, church, or waiting rooms.
- Button art: This was a fun activity that helped Cameron with learning colors. His OCD tendencies also showed through with this game. When he put the buttons away he liked them lined up in perfect rows of all the same color! 😆
- Puzzles: It was just weeks before his 3rd birthday when Cameron started to really enjoy puzzles. We had several days of “potty training boot camp” where Daddy sat on the floor and colored, played puzzles, and did a variety of other activities with Cameron all day long. It was during this time that Cameron realized he could put “big boy puzzles” together all on his own. He’s loved them ever since!
- iPad apps: Several years ago when Cameron was a preschooler, we were very new to the iPad scene! We limited his screen time to an hour or less, but I felt better about using some educational apps. Check out some of our fave educational apps here (for both your littles and bigs).
- Crayola Dry Erase markers: out little guy loved using the dry erase board like his big brother, and I love that these are washable (a must when you have little people)! I used these with free printables that I found on homeschool websites. I would just slide the page into a clear plastic page projector and Cameron went to town! He loved the novelty of being able erase what he colored.
- Play dough: This is not my favorite activity because it’s so messy, but it’s certainly a hit with little people. And it’s another one that’s good for helping develop fine motor skills and color identification. (Plus it’s easy to make homemade play dough, which is a fun project and inexpensive!)
- Building blocks: Duplos or Mega Bloks are fabulous toys for toddlers. Keep a container handy and let them be a special “school time only” toy to get your little one really excited about them!
- Snacks: Never underestimate the value of a good snack in keeping a small person happy. Keep your pantry and fridge stocked with ready-to-go, healthy (or mostly healthy!) snacks. Just some ideas:
- Hole punchers: How fun of an idea is this? Hand your kiddo a hole puncher and some colored paper and let them have at it (supervised, of course). You could end up with confetti all over the floor but you can easily vacuum it up! Credit for this idea goes to the blog Kelly the Kitchen Kop (more fun ideas in her post).
- Boxes: My kids have always been enamored with boxes. It’s simple, but effective in keeping little ones engaged. They can stack, nest or fill small boxes. They can make bigger boxes into cars or boats. And if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a really big box it can become a small play house! Step up your game a notch, and when your kids start to lose interest, give them some crayons and stickers to decorate their box! Double the fun.
Now I realize, not all of these ideas will work with all children. Some children aren’t interested in art-type activities (my first born), some hate getting messy (my second born) so wouldn’t enjoy play dough. But spend time building out a list of activities you know your child will enjoy. Keep rotating them, to keep your child engaged and busy!
More helpful strategies for homeschooling with toddlers and preschoolers:
Good luck mama! You can do this, it just takes a little extra planning when you have a toddler or preschooler in the mix. Beyond just ideas, check out some of these great strategies for homeschooling when you have little people in the mix.
- 8 Tips for Homeschooling with Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers in the Mix from Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
- Homeschooling with Little Ones Underfoot from Simple Homeschool