Keeping Li’l Ones Occupied and Learning

1 Aug

While homeschool planning with Tapestry of Grace haze our normally free-of-clutter dining table, four-year-old Zurielle takes over the kitchen table. From coloring “Letter of the Day” sheets, she has now graduated into her “homeschool book,” some puzzles, and a wipe-off mat to practice her alphabet.

What she calls her “homeschool book” is really just whatever preschool workbook she is currently working on. The first one, which I thought was nice because it lays flat, went really fast, and for a couple of days she was begging for another. With the new one I tear the perforated sheets, hole-punched and put them in a three-ring binder, and slipped the book cover in the clear plastic binder cover.

Obviously, I would need a lot more help than that to keep this four-year-old and her little sibling busy while I help big sister with her work. I think I got that covered with:

  • Legos
  • Duplos
  • Butterfly count and sort set
  • Counting bears and sorting cups
  • Pipe builders
  • Magnetic wooden doll sets
  • Miscellaneous Toob sets
  • Wooden building blocks/sets
  • Alphabet and other lacing sets
  • Miscellaneous manipulatives
  • Puzzles and puzzle books
  • kitchen toys
  • Cuddlies (we don’t want to call them stuffed animals) for playing animal rescue center
  • Dried beans (or rice) and all sorts of containers
  • Movies on Movie Day, etc


I’d like to hear more practical and clever ideas as I am pretty sure we would be using more than one or two sets a day. I am not assigning what days we’re playing with what, but for sure they will ONLY see these things ONCE a week. Most of them find home in the playroom closet. It is a small walk-in closet, but it doubles as a “clubhouse” so I have to store the containers in the deep built-in chest inside and the shelvings up high.

Zurielle has just started showing interest in “school” and I am in no way rushing her. I got her an Ancient Egypt coloring book so that she could get involved as we study the ancient times. We are starting with just this one because I want to encourage free drawings more than coloring sheets, but I also believe there is room and benefit for both… we’ll see how it goes. We would be reading the Old Testament part of her Bible storybook, and other related books with her. We did Noah’s Ark by Peter Spier not too long ago, but I’m sure the illustrations would again speak a thousand words the next time around. I am looking forward to once more enjoying Brian Wildsmith’s Joseph, and The Exodus. Wow, it seems just like yesterday when I was reading these books to big sister Aliyah!

If you have little ones at home, what are your plans to keep them occupied and happy while you homeschool this year? What has worked for you, or challenged you in the past? I’d love to know!

4 Responses to “Keeping Li’l Ones Occupied and Learning”

  1. Lady Lafalot August 2, 2007 at 11:43 am #

    You’re not just keeping the little ones busy. Yesterday, we were too involved in playing there was no bickering at all! Thanks for taking the toys out.

  2. pinaywife August 6, 2007 at 12:35 am #

    I organized his toys per days of the week. I have 7 boxes that have one for each day. Content of the boxes are organized into same kind of toys like – Monday (cars) – Tuesday (trains) – Wednesday (legos) something like that… but I have 2 trunks open everyday, 1 is just an assorted toys mostly toys that plays music.. the other one is a trunk of tinker toys.

    Also what I do is.. when my toddler is up I work with him first, we watch his videos which are also scheduled, for example we learn sign language, tuesday we watch the french videos, then numbers, next day is colors & shapes.. etc. at 10am I put him to nap, that’s when I start to work with my eldest. So in our schedule, I assigned the independent work when the toddler is awake & work with him on Narration etc. when my bunso is sleeping.

    By the way I use HST for my scheduling. My boy just check off the list of stuff that he’s already done & because I don’t put anytime in there, he can reorder how he wants it done depending on what he likes to do best at that time. Afternoons are sort of free, we just do alto sax practice & Nature Study if I don’t get lazy to go out or do some Arts & Crafts.

    I like your list of toys too, I will check and take a look at some of those.

  3. yielded August 6, 2007 at 1:34 pm #

    Nap at 10am, wow! But then again, I think I read somewhere in your blog that the little guy gets up early. Our little ones get up between 7 and 8am, and we only do pm naps.

    We all labor to keep our kids busy here, and with so many toys! Whatever happened to just playing bahay-bahayan, exploring outside and climbing trees?

    Thank you for sharing. Don’t know if you’ve posted anything like it, but that might be a great idea.

  4. pinaywife August 7, 2007 at 8:50 pm #

    Flo, he gets up at 7am (that’s the most) the earliest is like 6:30, takes a nap at 10am or 11am (now it’s mostly 11am cause he really likes to watch Barney first=)) then bedtime at 8pm. That’s our routine. I’d like them to be in bed at 8, that leaves me enough time for my internet life =).

    I’d really like to find some kind of toy that’s sort of like legos but a bit bigger or a puzzle but just small enough to put inside my bag so when we’re at church he can play with them quietly for at least 30 minutes of preaching. He sort of like to take things apart and put them together kind of toy. Any suggestions?

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