Last week we started a crash course in homeschooling and I’m desperately trying to find ways to keep my three year old busy while I do schoolwork with my two older kids. There are definitely moments where the best option for my sanity is for her to watch Paw Patrol or Sofia the First, but here are a few things that have worked for us!
Here are five fun activities to keep preschoolers busy while at home.
Oh my goodness, you guys, my youngest daughter could play with playdoh for hours! It has been a game changer for keeping her occupied and somewhat contained. We set up plastic placemats underneath the playdoh in an attempt to keep it from being tracked through the house. Right now she’s loving the toys that make playdoh spaghetti. She also is enjoying using plastic spoons and cookie cutters.
2. Popcorn, Cheerios and/or Gold Fish cracker counting
This one doubles as a snack! Yeah! I poured out all the snacks out on a plastic place mat (I use these for everything!) and then gave her several snack cups. She was counting and sorting her snacks into different cups. In our house we absolutely love the rainbow goldfish because she can seperate them by color too. It’s definitely more fun when you use a few different snacks. To buy a few extra minutes, she loved it when I poured out a package of fruit snacks too!
Alright, this one will get all over. If the weather is nice, I highly recommend setting it up outside. Or if your kitchen is in need of being mopped (let’s face it, with 3 kids at home my floors always need to be cleaned!) then go ahead and set up in the kitchen. This one is my three year olds favorite tea set and she absolutely loves using real water. She then loves to pour “tea” into the tea cups. And back and forth until the water is basically covering the floor. If you don’t have a plastic tea set, feel free to use any little pitcher or plastic cups you might have. I have a robust collection of kids to go cups from Islands and CPK that I like to use on these kinds of occasions. As mentioned, the floor will be wet so have a towel handy. I like to think of this one as a win-win because my munchkin was busy and my floors got a little bit cleaner. Bonus if you bribe your big kids to clean it up for you (See those fruit snacks really do come in handy!)
Empty egg cartons are awesome for this. If you don’t have any on hand, feel free to use small plastic cups, dixie cups or small cereal bowls. Set them up in a row. Then pour out a bunch of little objects to sort and separate. Some of her favorite things to sort are buttons, noodles, dry beans, small toys like Shopkins (my big girls have a ton of them), hair ties (again, with three girls in the house, we have a bunch), legos or any other small objects you might have around the house. It’s a great activity for fine motor skills too. I usually set her up next to me and if needed, give her suggestions like put all at the noodles in one cup or find all the blue objects.
5. Build a Fort
At one point or another all of my kids have loved building forts. Taking every blanket and pillow that we own, they love creating their own little haven. Sometimes this does require help from me or one her sisters, but once it is built she thoroughly enjoys bringing in her stuffed animals and baby doll into the fortress. Then I bring out one of my little ones favorite items. This will be the highlight of the fort experience and usually buys enough time to finish 2nd grade math. The flashlight. Sometimes the magic happens and she pulls out some books to “read” in the fort with the flashlight. Our longest run yet was thirty minutes. 30 freaking minutes. I can get soooo much done in 30 minutes! Especially right now, when everyone is home 24/7 and I can’t even go to the bathroom without someone sending me a note under the door. Ok, so this one tends to be more work on the back end where clean up is involved. But I’ll take those precious minutes of being able to get a little bit of reading out loud done with my 7 year old.
I hope these tips are helpful and bring some joy to your day as we all navigate this new normal. Full disclosure here, this is a unique and disruptive time for all of us. There are certainly moments where my fear and anxiety creep in and I’m waffling between holding back tears and crossing things off my to do list just so I feel like I have some sense of control. I know our precious kiddos feel it too and there might be times where the best thing to do is throw out expectations all together, snuggle under a blanket and watch Frozen for the 100th time. For me, now is not the time to focus on having an ulta clean and organized house. Instead, it is to focus on my family and love them up the best way I can. That might look different in your home, and Friend, that is a beautiful thing. As I type this, the laundry is literally overflowing and there are so many dishes in the sink, but I know I need to breathe through it and find peace in the small moments of gratefulness that flash throughout the day.
Mama, you are doing an amazing job. You are strong and capable and God hand-picked you for your child. We are all in this together.
Be well, my Friend.
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