Activities and Games

homeschool and toddlers

3 Sanity-Saving Strategies for Homeschooling With Toddlers


homeschool and toddlers

Let’s take a look at the best ways to be a great parent for your toddler, while still devoting a good portion of your day to teach and train older kids at home.

Do you get nervous when it gets really quiet around your house? Do you have to put markers, glue, and other creative art supplies up on a high shelf? Do step stools located in unusual places around the house make you cringe? If you have answered yes to two or more of these questions, then you must have a toddler living in your home. Toddlers are a joy, there is no doubt about that, but they can also create havoc if left alone with nothing productive to do for too long . . . Parenting young children is not exactly easy. Any mother or father can tell you this!

It requires a good deal of consistency, steadfastness, and compassion on the part of the parent. When said parent is also a homeschool mom, it requires an extra dose of creativity, organization, and determination just to juggle your many responsibilities. But these are the very qualities that you bring to the homeschool table anyway, so let’s take a look at the best ways to be a great parent for your toddler, while still devoting a good portion of your day to teach and train older kids at home.

There are three strategies to use when homeschooling with toddlers in your home:

  1. Keep them busy.
  2. Divide and conquer.
  3. Get creative.

Let’s look at each one, as you will want to employ a combination of these sanity-saving strategies in your home to gain the most enjoyment and satisfaction with both your older and younger children.

Keep Him Busy

Are you ready to start homeschooling your toddler? Guess what? It’s not necessary! He will learn so much just by playing and listening and talking and interacting with his family. If you want to give him a head start in academics, then take the time to read, read, read to your little ones—in the morning, before nap time, and before bed. Additionally, talk to him about what you are doing during the day and let him help you when it is safe to do so. As an example, you can count outloud the number of forks that you will need for the dinner table and then let him put them on.But please, don’t pull out the workbooks just yet! Your toddler will learn far more just from spending time with her family members in attentive conversation and meaningful work and play. However,that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t plan special activities for her so that she can be part of “school” too.

  1. Have a special school box for your toddler that he uses only during school time. It may include special crayons to be used during handwriting time, snap cubes to be used during math time, etc.Our special preschool box is filled with individually zip lock-bagged, age-appropriate*supplies and activity ideas, such as these:
  • Puzzles (large and few pieces for little hands)
  • Large nuts and bolts (from the hardware store)*
  • Letter and number magnets (for the refrigerator)
  • Paint brush and water (to be used on cardboard)
  • Small containers with lids (with surprises inside)
  • Yarn and sandpaper (yarn sticks to create designs)
  • Hole-punched cards and shoelaces for sewing
  • Magnets and paper clips or screws*
  • Matching games and card sets
  • Pipe cleaners and pony beads*
  • Paper and crayons*
  • Flashcards
  • Stickers*

*Note: Please use discretion. If your child is going to chew, bite, or swallow something (such as beads or crayons or paper clips), don’t put them in the box! This box is to be set aside for use only during school time so that its contents remain fresh and new for the child.

  1. Offer special high-chair activities during school time. Put shaving cream in a gallon-size zip lock bag and let the child “write” with a finger on it and erase by squishing it around. Offer finger painter play dough. Fill a large, plastic, lidded container with dry beans or split peas and let your child use scoops or measuring cups to pour them from one container to another. Yes, you’ll have to clean up the area later, but it may buy you 30–45 minutes of teaching time with another child.Additional ideas for high-chair time can be found
  1. Put the step stool up to the kitchen sink, close the drain, and run a drizzle of water into the sink along with a little bit of dish soap. Give your child some plastic cups, bowls and spoons to “wash.” He’ll feel glad to know that he is helping with the chores. A turkey baster and soapy water can keep a child entertained for a while too.
  1. Check out book and tape/CD kits from the library. Your toddler can listen to the story through headphones while“reading” the book.
  1. Read aloud to your older children right outside the open bathroom door while your younger child plays in the tub.Or just read in the bathroom. Strange perhaps, but safe!
  1. Make some special toys available during school time only. Rotate these toys so that they are always fresh and interesting.

Divide and Conquer

  1. While working on a specific subject with one older child, have the other older child play with the youngest child in her room. This is a special playtime for the two of them. Then switch for the other sibling to have this special time.
  1. Ask Dad to teach certain subjects. My husband teaches science and logic to the older kids. This frees me up to spend undivided time with my younger children.
  1. Have middle grade students do certain subjects independently. After giving instruction, send them off to work on the assignment on their own.
  1. Hire a homeschool teen (or ask Grandma) to come over and play with the youngest child while you “get serious”with the older children.
  1. Swap school time (or toddler time)with another homeschool mom. For example,you teach a subject to her older kids (along with yours) while she plays with the younger ones. Or vice versa. That way each of you can have uninterrupted school time with your older kids and/or playtime with your younger ones.

Get Creative With School Time

  1. Wait until your toddler’s nap time to work on school subjects with your other children.
  1. Work on some school subjects at night while Dad is home to play with or put the youngest to bed.
  1. Do a fun activity with your toddler before you begin school. This should help her to be more content to play on her own or to listen to books quietly for a while as you give attention to the other children.
  1. Don’t feel like you have to do every subject every day. Combine subjects or possibly double up on some school work on certain days when the baby takes a longer nap or is playing more contentedly.That way, you can do less on other days! For example, combine geography with history, or do a whole week’s worth of science on one day.
  1. Be willing to do some schoolwork on Saturday when Dad is home.
  1. Use smaller amounts of time for school. A block of four hours may not be possible at this time, but 45 minutes to an hour at a time may be doable.
  1. Read aloud during breakfast and lunch (while your youngest child is contentedly eating in his high chair).
  1. Understand that your homeschool day will not look like a classroom day during this season of your family’s life.Maybe it never will. And this is okay! Enjoy this season of your child’s life,knowing that it will not last forever and that you are not alone. Your toddler will be at this stage only for a couple of short years, and the next thing you know, he’ll be in kindergarten. They are only young for such a short time, and it is a precious,precious time. Don’t wish it away!Make every effort to stay flexible with your schedule and your to-do list,as toddlers change from one day to the next. Just when one strategy may be working for your family, he’ll change and you’ll need to try something else to keep the school day flowing. In other words, what worked yesterday might notwork today! Above all, give him lots of hugs and kisses during your school day,which will reassure you both that he is not an interruption but a blessing.

This is a guest post by Terri Johnson. Terri Johnson, along with her husband Todd, founded Knowledge Quest, Inc., publisher of history and geography materials. Knowledge Quest is well known for producing mapping programs such as Map Trek and Time Trek, as well as timelines, historical biographies, geography curriculum, software, and even mobile apps. Visit Knowledge Quest at .

Copyright 2013, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

pirate activities for kids

Ready for Talk Like a Pirate Day?

Talk Like a Pirate Day is September 19th! Want to celebrate in your homeschool? Check out these easy & creative ideas to get in the spirit!
Pirates - Educents Blog

Pirate Treasure Hunt – This is a great activity for pirate fun at home over the weekend! Make your own map, hide pirate treasure, and watch your little ones follow directions to search for the Pirates’ Gold!

Island Adventures Reading Program – Join Pete Pirate and his crew with instruction and practice in advanced phonics skills, sight words, vocabulary, fluency, and reading comprehension! 75 lessons teach fundamental reading skills for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades. Recommended ages 6 to 9.


Treasure Map Pizza – Decorate your homemade pizza with olives, peppers, and a tiny red pepper for the pirate ship!

Meet the McKaws – This is such a fun pirate-themed book for Kindergarteners! Captain Stan and Tiny McKaw are rough-and-tumble pirates. Whether it’s searching for treasure or battling on the high seas, this adventurous duo is up for anything.

Pirates’ Treasure & Crafts

Pirate Math and Literacy Activities – The pirate literacy activities include wall words, syllable sort, picture bingo, and more! The pirate math activities include four math activities that would deb a great addition to any pirate-themed unit.

Pirate Crafts and Treasure Chest – Make a pirate hat, homemade pirate hook, spyglass, treasure chest, gold coins and more!

Pirate Craft

Paper Plate Pirate Craft – Use household items to craft a happy pirate face! This is an easy activity for kids and parents to complete together at home.

Exploding Treasure Chests Pirate Science – Dive into some pirate science with Exploding Treasure Chests!! It’s a great sensory experience as the solid, freezing cold chests turn to mush and expose treasures hidden within.

Pirate Theme Classroom Mega Bundle – Want to set your classroom in a pirate theme? This package includes pirate-themed word wall cards, calendars, customizable name tags, classroom jobs poster, time telling posters set, and more!

DIY Reading Nooks for Homeschoolers

DIY Reading Nooks for Homeschoolers

DIY Reading Nooks for Homeschoolers

I had one goal when I was homeschooling my children and that was that by the time they left my home they could read and would love to read.  My philosophy is that if they loved reading, they could learn anything they wanted to.

In today’s world of electronic devices, getting kids to settle down with a book (even if it is on your Kindle!) can be difficult.  I found it’s helpful to give them a special place dedicated to reading.  It doesn’t need to be very expensive or take up a lot of room.  It could be in the corner of your family room, some unused space under the stairs or anywhere you have a little room.

Here are some great ideas from other families.  Which one do you like the best?

Closet Turned Book Nook

DIY Reading Nook 1Closet turned book nook from Thrifty Decor Chick

Playroom Reading Nook

Diy Reading Nook 2Playroom reading nook from Goat and Lulu

Indoor Tree House

DIY Reading Nook 4Cozy indoor treehouse from Apartment Therapy 

Little Girl’s Library

DIY Reading Nook 9

Little Girls’ Library from Cote de Texas

Closet Turned Cozy Reading Nook

Diy Reading Nook 3

Closet turned into a cozy reading nook by Little Hell Raiser

Window Reading Nook

DIY Reading Nook 5Window reading nook from House of Turquoise

Wasted Space to Reading Nook

DIY Reading Nook 6

Wasted space to reading nook from These Moments of Mine

Plywood Reading Nook

DIY Reading Nook 7Plywood Kids Reading Nook from Ciburbanity

Butterfly Cove

DIY Reading Nook 8Butterfly Cove from Stuff Parents Need

Pod Swing

Reading Nooks 10Pod Swing from Indulgy

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

antman 1

Download Marvel’s Ant-Man Coloring Sheets & Games!

antman 1

Download this fun family activity packet inspired by Marvel’s ANT-MAN that includes coloring sheets, mazes, a match game, etc.

Here’s a sneak peek of what’s inside the 21-page activity pack:

antman 9 antman 7 antman 2antman 6 antman 5 antman 4 antman 3


Have you seen this “Little Ant-Man” video that’s currently becoming a viral sensation!



Let’s watch the trailer here:


7 Low Cost or No Cost Party Games for Kids

7 Low Cost (or No Cost!) Party Games for Kids

7 Low Cost or No Cost Party Games for Kids

Remember when we used to go to a birthday party and play Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey? Like most kids, I was just antsy waiting for my turn but also loved watching others wobble blindfolded!

The other day, I game across a book titled “Popular Party Games.” It’s an 80-page softcover book, published in 1976 and it cost …. $1.00! I couldn’t help but become nostalgic for the days when birthday parties were held at home with a few simple games, cake and treat bags.

Here are 7 of my favorite games from the book. I hope you enjoy them and find them helpful! They can be used at youth groups, scouting troops, homeschool co-op ice breakers and, a-hem, birthday parties!


This game is best played in round of three or four players with a final for the winners.

You will need four spools of thread. Tie a teaspoon securely to the end of the thread of each spool. Place the teaspoons on the floor at one end of the room and unwind the spools to reach the other end. Four players stand on chairs, each holding a spool. On the word “Go!” they start winding the spools by turning them in their fingers (no overhand winding is allowed!). In this way they draw the teaspoons toward them. The first to draw up a “fish” is the winner of the round.


This game is as amusing for the onlookers as for those taking part.

Cut brown paper or wallpaper into squares of about two feet, and fasten the squares to the wall with tacks or tape.

The players are blindfolded. Each is given a piece of chalk. They stand in front of their papers, and one of the onlookers chooses a subject for them to draw – such as a house, bicycle, ship, pig, etc., – within a time limit of one minute. The players are allowed to feel the edge of the paper before beginning their drawings.

When time is up, the players remove their blindfolds, and the onlookers vote for the best drawing.

Wool Gathering

Cut up some wool or other yarn into fifty or so three-inch lengths, using four different colors – say, red, greed, blue and brown. Distribute these around the room on furniture, ornaments, curtains, etc. At a given signal the players go “wool gathering.” On the word “Stop,” they count their pieces, and are told that the brown pieces score 4 points each, the blue 3, the red 2, and the green 1. (Give the highest points to the color that is the hardest to see) The player with the highest total wins the game.

Tilting the Orange

A boisterous game, played in pairs. If there are enough players, it is a good idea to have about three pairs taking part at once.

Each player has in his right hand a tablespoon with an orange (or tennis ball) on it. In his left hand he has another spoon. His aim is to knock off his opponent’s orange while keeping his own on the spoon.

Have several heats and then let the winners compete against each other.

Hurry Waiter!

Two teams of eight players stand facing one another, with a good space between the players as well as between the lines.

The first player in each team holds a plate with a ping-pong ball on it. At the word “go” this player runs in and out down the line and back again, saying to each member, “Here is your breakfast madam (or sir).” When he returns to his place, he hands the plate to the second player, who runs around the first player and then down the line, weaving in and out as before. If any player drops the ping-pong ball, he must return to his place and start again.

Family Reunion

For this game you will need to prepare beforehand the same number of cards as there are players. On each card write the name of a member of a family. There should be three members to each family, e.g., Mr. Brown, Mrs. Brown, Baby Brown.

Place the cards on the table. Around the table arrange a circle of chairs, well spaced out. The players are grouped in threes around the chairs, two standing and one seated.

When the music starts, the players begin walking around the outside of the circle. When it stops, they run to the table and each takes a card. They call out the names on their cards and re-group around the chairs in families of three.

The last three to form a family group are out of the game, and their cards are taken away. The other players return their cards to the table, the music starts again, and the game continues as before until the contest is between two groups. The first of these groups to form a family around a chair wins.

Farmyard Frolic

This is an amusing but extremely noisy game for a small party of up to ten children. When they are all sitting quietly, go up to each one and whisper the name of a farmyard animal (dog, cat, hen, cow, etc.). AT the word “Go,” each child then makes the sound of the animal he has been given. When the noise becomes unbearable, ring a bell and shout, “All quiet!” Then the children must write down as many of the animal sounds as they remember hearing.

Aren’t those fun?!? What were your favorite childhood party games? Do you know of any others? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!

Summer Games 1

10 Summer Games and Activities for Kids

It’s that time of year where, if you’re not homeschooling year round, you may have found that you’ve exhausted your repertoire of fun stuff to do outdoors.

Not quite ready to start thinking about school yet?  Try one of the fun and unique summer games or activities today!  (It’s really 209, if you count that #6 has 200 ideas!)

Summer Games 1

 10 Summer Games and Activities for Kids

  1. Rain Cloud in a Jar ~Parenting Chaos
  2. Making Terrariums with Betta Fish ~We Know Stuff
  3. DIY How to Make Sponge Bombs ~Stockpiling Moms
  4. 5 Night Games Using Glow Sticks ~Premeditated Leftovers
  5. Homemade Super Bubble Recipe ~Grocery Shop for FREE!!
  6. 200 Free Summer Activities for Kids ~The Jenny Evolution
  7. How to Tie Dye T-Shirts with Sugar ~Stockpiling Moms
  8. DIY Pool Cards ~Parenting Chaos
  9. A Dinosaur Egg Ice Smash! ~A House Full of Sunshine
  10. Pet Rock Tic-Tac-Toe ~One Creative Mommy

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