Sep 10, 2013

Keeping a Toddler Busy While Homeschooling {Creating a Discovery Box}

One of our biggest challenges since starting to homeschool Silas has been keeping our little Liam busy when we're in the middle of focused learning. Liam is used to having his brother and Mama at his disposal during the day, so it's taking him a little more time to get used to the structure that we've added to our mornings. Although sitting him in front of the TV is an option, I don't want to enforce those habits. Liam does watch TV on occasion, but I prefer him to be exploring and discovering more at his age.

Yesterday we had a pretty rough morning. I was trying to keep Silas' attention while Liam squirmed around in my lap, knocking down books and throwing supplies. He wouldn't play independently with his toys, and he wouldn't sit still long enough to participate in an activity. I could tell he wanted my attention and was almost competing with Silas for it. I'm was trying not to let his behavior get to me, but it was hard not to become flustered. 

We fumbled around all morning and finally got through our learning material for the day, but I knew I needed to think this arrangement through if we were going to continue on successfully. My wonderful hubby agreed to take the boys out for the afternoon so I could regroup. I did a little online reading to gather ideas and advice from other moms. My reading led me to go on a little scavenger hunt around the house to see what supplies I had available to create a discovery box for Liam, which is basically a box of random materials that he can play with and discover new ways to use them. Fortunately I had plenty materials on hand and didn't have to spend a penny!

Liam's Discovery Box all set to go.
Here are the simple supplies I gathered for Liam's Discovery Box:

1 :: Wooden Beads & Pipe Cleaners (for threading beads onto the pipe cleaners)
2 :: Ice Cube Tray & Empty Oatmeal Carton with a hole cut through the top (for sorting the wooden beads when he gets bored of threading them)
3 :: Homemade Play Dough & Popsicle Sticks (for creating play dough porcupines and other strange creatures)
4 :: Painter's Tape (I haven't met a kid yet who doesn't like tape!)
5 :: Magnets (for sticking on the fridge, a cookie sheet, or any other magnetic surface he can find)
6 :: Clothes Pin Color Matching (similar to this one, but using an empty oatmeal carton instead).
7 :: Spray Bottle of Water & Towel (for spraying and wiping down the kitchen cabinets, an activity Liam finds quite entertaining)
8 :: Chalk Board & Paint Brushes (for painting the chalkboard with water).
9 :: Puzzles (I try to keep them somewhat educational to help with learning shapes and colors).

Notice there are NO extremely messy activities involved! I can't be worrying about cleaning while Liam is busy discovering. I chose activities that would make for easy clean up.

My plan is to pull one activity at a time out of the box and let Liam go at it until he loses interest. As time permits and as his development allows, I hope to add other activities to the box to keep him engaged. Pinterest has TONS of ideas.

Oh yeah, and because I had the house to myself for the afternoon I channeled my inner crafty Mama (she very rarely makes an appearance) and made Liam a little train out of some cardboard boxes and a jump rope!

Train made out of a cardboard box and a jump rope.
Last night the boys and I decorated the train to give it a little more "track appeal." The boys gave all of their stuffed animals train rides and had a blast.

Decorating the train.

Almost ready to ride!
I'm quite hopeful that Liam will take an interest in his new discovery box! I'll update soon!

Are you homeschooling with a toddler underfoot? What are you best tips for keeping your toddler busy?

{Linking up with The Better Mom, Growing Home Blog, Time Warp Wife, & Cornerstone Confessions}


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