George and I have been kicking around the idea of homeschooling Georgie, and one of the big questions we have is, How do we keep the middlest and the littlest occupied while George does schoolwork?
I started doing research on crafts and projects for preschoolers during homeschooling, and found a lot of really great ideas. The most important aspect of these activities is that they must be self-directed. Optimally, they’ll be self-checking. This way, Ethan doesn’t require instruction beyond the initial explanation, and if he does it incorrectly, it’s immediately apparent.
Now, we aren’t certain that we’re going to homeschool, but I need some activities for Ethan. He gets easily bored in the afternoons when Stella is napping and George is at school. He doesn’t want to read or do worksheets or play with toys, and he nags me to watch television. So I’m hoping that this will give him some alternatives and will keep him interested.
After a visit to the craft store and re-purposing some of the craft materials that we already have on-hand, I spent the afternoon planning stuff for our Activity Box.
Here’s a log of the activities, many of which I found from the Preschool Activities page at Redshift.
Scissor Skills: Scrap paper with straight, angled, and wavy lines, ending with a sticker. Ethan uses scissors to cut along the lines until he gets to the sticker. These are easy to copy or print from online templates, so they aren’t difficult to replenish. Plus, they all fit into clear, gallon-size zip-top bags so the kids can see what they want to choose.
Bead Sorting: I took three empty votive candle tins and hot-glued four different colored pony beads inside, then hot-glued the tins to a piece of cardboard. I put a selection of pony beads into a plastic container and included a set of tweezers from my old PC toolkit. Ethan stays occupied for at least 15 minutes, using the tweezers to sort the beads into the correct tins.
Bead Patterning: I bought some plastic craft laces and strung pony beads on them in patterns, knotting both ends to secure them. Then, I cut several laces and knotted one end to use for replicating the patterns, and added a plastic container of beads.
Shape Matching: I cut shapes out of foam sheets and stuck strips of self-adhesive Velcro on the back of each shape and wrote the name of the shape on the front. Then I took an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of stiff felt and traced the shapes onto the sheet in permanent marker. Stella really loves working with the flannel boards, so this will be a simple, self-correcting activity for her; if she puts the wrong shape on the wrong outline, they won’t match.
Transportation Flannel Board: I found a set of transportation-oriented flannel-board cutouts and packed them with a collapsible flannel lap board.
100-piece Puzzles: Great for motor skills and shape differentiation. Usually good for at least a half an hour of play.
Foam Sheets with Stickers: 8.5″ x 5.5″ half-sheets of foam and peel-off stickers in an assortment of sizes and shapes. Helps with fine motor skills.
Self-correcting Puzzles: I bought a puzzle with 24 pieces. Each set of two fits together; baseball goes with glove, toothbrush goes with toothpaste, etc. If the items don’t match, the puzzle doesn’t fit together.
Felt Letters and Numbers: An assortment of felt letters and numbers to be used with their flannel boards.
Flannel Board Sets: I absolutely adore the flannel board sets from The Teacher Express. We have several story sets, including Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Old MacDonald. I just ordered Stellaluna, The Little Red Hen and Red Riding Hood. The children love to do the stories on the boards.
Lacing Craft: I cut several sections out of a large fabric softener container, rounded off the edges, and had George drill holes in various spots. I put several lengths of yarn and plastic lace into the bag with the cutouts and let them practice lacing through all of the holes.
Flash Cards: I took index cards and numbered them 1-20 and put stickers on the cards. I included 20 pennies in the bag for use as counters; he counts out enough pennies to cover the stickers in order to figure out which number he’s looking at.
I’m still on the lookout for more ideas, if you have one, feel free to leave it for me in the comments.