Monday, September 3, 2012

Keeping the Toddler Busy While Teaching the Older Ones

I can't tell you how many times I have Googled that title phrase while completely frustrated with trying to teach the older two as SophieZilla breaks everything in sight.

For example, one morning, Delaney and I were playing a  doubles addition concentration game. She had to turn over the cards and find matches. When she didn't know the answer, she was using Snap Cubes and baby teddy bears to count by two's to her answer. She had 7 sets of bears and cubes all lined up for 7+7...and sweet Sophie knocked them all down with her feet, yelling, "Hi-YAAAA!" Although I couldn't help but laugh, it's difficult to keep Delaney's attention with all the karate chopping going on.

I have put together a list of our top ten "Fun Ways to Distract Sophie", just in case you need a few ideas. I try to find things that are low maintenance to use and clean up for simplicity's sake, but I do have a few messy options.

Water color paints...I found directions for edible paints here, which are wonderful and I don't have to worry about her eating them, unlike the paint she is using in the picture below.
 Fingerpainting is lovely too, if you don't mind the mess. I put a little bit of food coloring in sweetened condensed milk - instant edible paint. It looks shiny and smooth when it dries, which she thinks is neat, too.
Uh, yeah. That would be my girl licking her painting. It's tasty stuff. Ha. 

Scooping is a lot of fun. I give Sophie a big bowl of pasta shells (she can eat them if she decides to, and little chance of choking) and a bunch of different scooping utensils...measuring cups and spoons and other small bowls. Keeps her busy for an hour on a good day!

Pegboard . It's great for fine motor, sorting by shape and color, and pretending that it's a birthday cake and blowing out the candles. :)

Color Wonder Mini Markers . How I love these. And when she decides to decorate herself, you can't even see. ;)

Plain old water. A few cups, a towel and some water are endlessly entertaining. Let the pouring begin!

The Tool Set has been a nice addition. She enjoys using the screwdriver and the hammer, and the nuts and bolts are fun too.

We love the AquaDoodle . Delaney received it from Grandma for Christmas a few years ago, and it has been quite the favorite, and I love it too - no mess!

You can also multi-purpose the AquaDoodle as a painting easel...A paint brush and water are a lot of fun, too.

Model Magic . It is similar to play-dough, but has a different texture. It has been out of its original package for almost 3 months, and hasn't dried out yet.

Snap Cubes® . They are great for taking apart and putting back together, sorting and building robots. She finds it extra fun to dump the entire bag onto the floor and kick them like soccer balls. She also likes to play hide-and-seek and find them all when it's time to put them away,  which is nice of her.

When all else fails, I pull out the winter accessories bin. For some reason, hats and scarves and mittens are fun for at least 30 minutes.

On the rare days that she is feeling quiet, a bin of fun board books will entertain her for quite some time, especially if they include animals or balloons. 

Sophie is definitely a handful almost every minute of the day, but her attention span is lengthening, and these have been excellent ways to entertain her and include her in our school time too, which is probably her main goal when driving us crazy anyway, right? :)


  1. I just found your blog and love it. I am a mom of three and am homeschooling. I am excited about it, and I think you have so many great ideas!

  2. I just found your blog and love it. I am a mom of three and am homeschooling. I am excited about it, and I think you have so many great ideas!

  3. Thank you! I'm so glad you found the blog. Homeschooling with 3 is quite the adventure, isn't it! :)


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