Get some ideas about ways to keep your preschooler’s cup full and him occupied while you are teaching your older students.
Keep an ongoing list on the refrigerator. When you are attempting to teach a new concept to an older child is not the time to try to stop and think.
Keep a tub ready. Keep certain activities and resources/toys for only when school is in session and the older children need your undivided attention.
Look for ideas that require minimal preparation.
- The sky’s the limit for what can occupy a child.
- The key is what can you get your child started doing in just a few minutes.
- Choose wisely. If you constantly have to give direction, you have defeated your purpose.
Designate where the activity is going to take place.
- E.g., Duplos® in the living room floor, Play-doh® at the table, baby dolls in their room
- Try to swap areas each time the child switches activities so he is not in same place, doing one activity after another.
Some suggestions: Some of the following could be done in various places or situations.
Toddler Table (“school” time)
- Play-doh® (with cookie cutters, rolling pin (toddler size)
- Letter of the week (easy way to learn phonics!)
- outline a letter on a piece of paper
- color or glue, ex. beans onto a B, macaroni onto an M, stickers, e.g., truck on T, etc.
- paste magazine pictures onto page of their beginning sounds (older)
- put 3×5 cards around house with beginning letter of item (L on lamp, C on chair, etc.) Better idea: have older sibling put cards around house.
- stamping on object (give a single stamp pad at a time)
- assemble his own book of the letters he has learned
- cutting lines or objects drawn on paper
- cutting out of a magazine
- Puzzles (older)
Choose puzzles wisely, because they need to be ones the child can figure out on his own.
- Simple workbooks
- on his own
- draw straight sticks (circles, squiggles, etc.) all over a page [prewriting]
- print Es over an entire page [writing]
- use different media like a small chalk or dry erase board, a jumbo piece of paper on the floor, or even the sidewalk outside.
- ReadyWriter®, either in the workbook or as reproducible pages as in Calculadder®
- Coloring, paper or books
A is for Adam by Ken Ham is great! Copy pages and learn about creation at the same time.
Couch (Reading and Discussion time)
- Include whenever you can during reading and discussion times.
If possible, have picture books on subjects being discussed in school.
- Looking at books
- Beads and lacing
- Lacing cards (older)
- Just holding while reading
- Read good books together. Do related projects.
e.g., Before Five in a Row Around the House (Play time)
- Legos® or Duplos® (LR)
- Baby dolls (BR)
- Play Kitchen (BR)
- Cars and trucks (LR or outside)
- Cuisenaire rods, either to build alone, do activities with another, or with a book
- e.g., From Here to There with Cuisenaire
- Be careful; more instruction/time may be necessary with a book.
- Pattern blocks either to make pictures out of the blocks by themselves or use premade pages
- Patternables and others
- Activity cards
- Tracing plates (Tupperware [$21], Oriental Trading Company, etc.)
- Sit on your bed time (always an option J)
- Rice Box (kitchen)
- Fill a bucket (flat with a lid is really good) with rice.
- Use as a mini sandbox.
- Complete with shovels, cars, and whatnot.
- Computer games (older)
- Balls, outside toys
- Sidewalk chalk
- May also be time with a sibling
- Sandbox with toys
Time with Sibling(s)
- Music/Dance time (not as much fun to dance and sing alone!)
- with or without instruments
- preferably in another room from where you are teaching
- Have sibling read to preschooler, while you’re working with other child(ren).
- Have sibling teach sounds to preschooler. (Teachers often learn the most!)
- The family socialization that takes place during these times is priceless!
Suggested products: Melissa and Doug (www.melissaanddoug.com; Amazon.com; Toys-R-Us)
- wonderful preschool, educational puzzles
- wooden “paper doll” sets with clothes that attach by magnets
- large, easy to use pieces, comes in a self contained wooden box
Little Hands Books (do Internet search of Little Hands Books)
- Wow! I’m Reading! (older)
- Little Hands Art Book
- Alphabet Art
- Many more books in this series, but need more Mom
Many thanks to AmyBeth Ball (mother of seven from Lubbock) for most of these suggestions!
Do you have ideas that have worked for you? Please send them to us, and we’ll add them to the list! Send to email@example.com, and put Preschool Ideas in the subject field, please.