I started homeschooling Oshiolema following the Peaceful Preschool method when he was a little over 3.5 years old. Now that Keogena is 3.5 I’m going at a much slower pace. Since Oshiolema has a true curriculum and Keogena has a much looser and freer schedule, there are times every day where she needs to be able to learn and play in a way that’s exciting and fun and age-appropriate for her while I spend more one on one time teaching big brother. Here are some of my go-to activities and resources for homeschool days with a younger sibling joining in:
Something the Peaceful Preschool Cirriculum taught us was to teach the littlest to trace letters in salt. It helps them work on that connection through hand-eye coordination and practice letters in a way that makes them more memorable. Also, salt is just more fun than paper! We dumped a giant container of cheap Mortons salt and keep it in this tupperware in the homeschool area to pull out every now and then.
I know, I know. This certainly needs no introduction. When I started teaching Lema his letters and reading to him around age 2 I thought I needed his full attention for him to be learning and absorbing what I was saying. HA! I wish I could go back and spend more time exhaling than trying to wrangle him/get him to sit still/get his eyes to focus on the book. Thanks to more time dedicated to learning how to better teach littles I learned they actually absorb so much by being busy with their hands and listening. I keep a whole Play-Doh station in a bin near our books and the bin lives there-it doesn’t come downstairs which means they really look forward to using it. This means when I begin a longer reading they both know they’re free to make pretend cookies, cut shapes into play-doh pies and let their imagination roam. The rule is “your hands can be busy but your mouth needs to be silent” so play doesn’t become a distraction rather than a helpful tool. If you’re curious about reading aloud to your littles and how to make the most of it, I highly recommend ‘Read Aloud Revival’ which I’ve enjoyed so much. The podcast and booklist are fantastic!
the Play-Doh accessories that live in our Homeschool area:
Lakeshore Learning Resources:
I’ve raved about Lakeshore Learning non-stop but it had to be mentioned here. You can read more about my favorite products from the store at the bottom of this post but these age appropriate toys and activities make homeschool days a win-win for both kids. Sometimes it’s difficult to have a three year old tracing and writing and sitting down to do “schoolwork” for any length of time so I love to break up learning with things from this store that make the act of learning so much fun. The number-bots and kinetic sand are so great for everyday play and this particular game is helping her identify letters. It’s been so interesting learning how differently two children can learn even when taught in the same way. Lema learned his letters in no time at all but has a harder time sitting down to take his time and color and do that type of work whereas Keogena is taking a bit longer to recall which letter is which but can sit down and color, trace and do that sort of bookwork all day long. Games and resources like this are really coming in handy.
Busy Toddler Activities:
Busy Toddler is another resource I’ve talked about more times than I can count but when I’m really on my game I like to set up an activity or two on the weekends for the kids to do whenever I need throughout the week. The sticker activities are a favorite while Lema has more bookwork and longer writing work to do and she’s getting restless but there are also tons of fun activities for them to do together both upstairs in the homeschool area and outside.
Wipe Clean Books:
I’ve loved these books for a long time (see this old post when they were both so teeny and Lema just started doing his tracing-my heart!) Pen control is a fundamental step of proper handwriting skills and it’s one we can often skip over. I have Keogena do this pen control book over and over again to keep practicing the shapes that are an integral part of each letter she’s learning. Thankfully, she loves to trace and have “a job to do” so books like these are totally her jam.