Carrie's Best Ideas for Toddlers

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Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2007 7:08 pm
Location: South Dakota

Carrie's Best Ideas for Toddlers

Post by my3sons » Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:53 pm

Hi ladies! I've had this question so often on the phone lately at HOD, that I thought I'd share Carrie's best ideas for what to do with toddlers while homeschooling in one post here...

Hi ladies! I agree that schooling with a 2 year old (or any toddler) can be very interesting! :D It will be even more important to figure out a routine for that particular child than it is to schedule your older two. This is because a 2 year old can make the best laid schedule come apart at the seams very quickly. :D

So, with that in mind, I would begin the schedule thinking of how to keep the 2-3 year old moving from thing to thing every 20-30 min. I would take time to truly train that child with his/her schedule, as this will make your school day go so much better! This can be done in stages, so don't get overwhelmed with my post below as it just full of ideas that you can gradually consider doing whichever ones might work for you! Just think that anything you do for your 2-3 year old will really pay off! :D I'll combine some of my previous posts below of things we've done with our schedule for our little ones at that age, and you can see what might work for you. :D

A few things that we've done that may be of help to you as you ponder your 2-3 year old's day are as follows:
We usually let our little ones sleep later in the morning and get up when they wake up. This means we do two shifts for breakfast as the older boys do get up and get started on time. The little ones eat when they come down. We make oatmeal and leave it on warm on the stove, as it can be eaten easily anytime. Our other breakfast is eggs in the microwave that the boys make on their own. Just crack one-two eggs in a microwave safe cereal bowl, stir, microwave and add a touch of salt or shredded cheese when they're done. We add yogurt and peanut butter toast and breakfast is a quick affair. :D This allows us to eat in shifts as needed. Our meals where we typically sit down together to eat as more as family are lunch and dinner. :D

Another thing that helps is for us to start the 2 or 3 year old early on his/her lunch. The little ones are usually hungry earlier than the older ones, so having them begin eating early is helpful. It buys me about 20 min. more work time with my other children. We usually work right at the table where the little one is eating, so that child feels a part of what we're doing, but is happily engaged. :D Once the little one finishes eating, he/she is happier as we read aloud with the others at lunch and is more willing to either go play or play with cupboard toys while the rest of the kiddos are eating. :D

I often read aloud at lunch to my kiddos when they are all eating, as full mouths are quiet mouths (and their minds are listening)! :D

Another wonderful thing that is well worth doing is to clear out a lower cabinet in your kitchen and stock it with just your 2-3 year old's toys. I only allowed my 2-3 year old to have one toy at a time out of the cupboard. We placed child protectors on the cabinet doors to enforce this. Then, I filled the cabinet with all sorts of quiet items that the 2-5 year old could get out (one at a time) and play with quietly at the table or on the floor by the cabinet. Often my boys spent much time just getting one thing out and putting away, so they could get the next thing out of the cabinet. The rule was only one item out at a time, and it must be put away prior to getting out the next item. :D This easily took 25-30 min. and can be used anytime you need it. Many days my son just spent a lot of time taking out one toy, scattering it on the floor, picking it up, putting it away, and getting out another one (which is great for fine motor muscle building and for practicing the skill of picking up)! We did put child protectors on the cupboard doors, which my son could open, but it slowed him down and kept him from just unloading the cabinet. We tried to put the toys in the cabinet that had many pieces in storage boxes WITH LIDS. This kept my son busy every morning, again in the afternoon, and in the evening. It is still the first thing he heads for when he comes downstairs, as he knows it is his. We also have a playroom with his toys, but for years he often only ever wanted what was in the cabinet. :D

Some examples of inexpensive things to place in the cabinet for a 2 year old that you may already have on hand would be a bucket of cars, a lidded container with macaroni noodles and a measuring cup, play food that he can cut or put together, a can of tennis balls with a lid, a container with a tweezers and small objects to pick up with the tweezers (like small pieces of yarn), a Cheerio book if you have one (where kiddos put the Cheerios on the openings in each page, if no Cheerio book make your own using coloring book pages and drawing circles where your kiddo should place the Cheerios (and then eat them), a container with trains and a track in it, a magnadoodle, anything he can pound like a ball pounder, an empty egg carton with a big button or other object in each slot (make sure they're not a choking hazard though), colored cups with a small container of legos chosen to be the same color as the cups (sort the colored legos into the matching cup), a lidded tub filled with stuffed toys, a container of megablocks, possibly some tractors or other vehicles, etc. :D

Toys for a 3 or 4 year old could have smaller parts and more involved steps like simple puzzles, possibly playdough or moon dough, large gears, objects for sorting, alphabet letters, foam blocks, large tangram shapes, a dry erase marker board and low odor marker (only when supervised :wink:, stacking cups, nesting boxes or other things that nest, large lacing beads, snap cubes, patterning cards,etc. :D

Another help for a two year old is highchair time. This usually buys about 15 min. We tried to have a highchair time each day for our kiddos when they were that age. We also attempted a playpen time and a play at the table time each day. Here's just a few ideas we used in the past for our highchair time for our busy, busy boys at that age: :D

1. Save the plastic eggs that snap together from Easter and place a Cheerio or other edible object inside each one. Then, have the child open and eat them, or if possible have the child put the object in and then take it out.

2. Do paint with water books in the high chair. Tear one page out of the book and tape it to the high chair tray. Give the child a small plastic container of water (flatter is better than taller, so it doesn't tip) and a paintbrush to paint on the water, and watch the colors appear on the paint with water page. Often the paper ended up so saturated, you couldn't see the picture but the time it gave me was worth it!

3. Cheerio books you can get at almost any book store. These have an indented spot to place a Cheerio in on each page creating a scene. We bought them for our first son (who is now a freshman) and have had them for each child ever since. These work great in the high chair as well. Simply give the child a small cup of Cheerios to place on each page, reusing the Cheerios as they go. Then at the end they can eat them (or eat as they go sometimes too.)

4. Tape a white piece of paper to the highchair tray and sprinkle a bit of kool-aid or Crystal light powder on the page. Then give the child a paintbrush and some water and let them paint the powder.

5. Give the child a singing book to look at while in the highchair. Ours have the buttons you can push down the side and sing different songs or make noises.

6. Try having the child look at a pile of lift-the-flap books with very large flaps while in the high chair. Some of my boys liked this better than others!

7. Use dot paint markers. These markers have paint inside them and make paint dots on paper when pressed down. Just tape a paper to the high chair and let them dot away! Make sure the paint is washable though, as they often dot the tray and themselves!

8. Magnetic train cars to push around on the highchair tray work well if you happen to have any of those. Each of our boys have loved these.

9. Sometimes a combination works too. Start with one highchair item and when the child is finished do another one. We tried for 15-20 min. in the highchair at a time mid-morning.

Playpen/Crib/or Room Time is another great help. When the toddler is doing this is typically when I do the left side of LHFHG or Beyond all in one sitting (as it takes about 30 min. to do the left side). :D One idea from Managers of Their Homes that I really liked and used was the Mommy Tape or CD. I recorded myself reading short Bible stories, nursery rhymes, counting, saying the names of family members, singing short little songs like "Jesus Loves Me" etc. to last 1/2 hour. I said my little one's name over and over all throughout the tape, like I was talking to him. I played it every day while my little one had time in his room with his toys (we do that time in his crib for safety reasons). :D When the tape ends, the child knows the time is up. We also used this during playpen time when he was younger. Playpen time amounted to a singing tape/CD with toys in the playpen. My boys were required to stay in the playpen for 20-30 min. at that age. When they outgrew the playpen, we moved it to time in the child's crib. Then, later we began assigning an older child to play with the younger one during that time instead. Once the child was not such a danger to himself, we switched this time to being playtime alone in his room. This happens around age 4 at our house. :D

Another thing to consider is having an older child play with the younger child. We required the kiddos to play in one room for that time. I rotated the room by day, once the older child was responsible enough to be out of my sight with the younger one. For time with another child at this age, we had the older child have an assigned card with an order in which to do things with the younger child. The card for each day usually included some of the following: :D
1. Read two board books to the child.
2. Do 1 or more fingerplays with the child. ( I had a list and taught the older child how to do them.)
3. Walk around with the child in the house and point to and name 10 objects, having the younger child repeat back the name of each object.
4. Count from 1 on up to... (whatever is most appropriate) with the child, having the child repeat each number after the older one says it.
5. Sit on the floor and roll a soft air-filled ball back and forth. Then, stand and bounce it back and forth. Last, gently throw the ball back and forth.
6. Stand back and toss beanbags or rolled up socks into a laundry basket.
7. Follow along in a book with an audio book while having the younger child sit next to the older child or on his/her lap.
8. Play with an assigned toy. (I assigned a different toy to each day, so the older child knew what to play and where to play it.)
I also have assigned an older child to sit and do educational computer time with my kiddos aged 3 or 4 and help and guide them, so this is an option as your toddler gets older. :D

For our younger boys, we also have had table time, which is similar to the cabinet idea but gives another thing for a 2 year old to do each day. This is where we have used 5 different tubs (that slid under my bed for storage when not in use). We numbered the tubs Day 1, Day 2, Day , Day 4, and Day 5. Each day we took out a different tub and the boys had to play with the items in the tub. I just placed things in each tub that we already had on hand. By placing them in the tub to only come out once each week, the items seemed new and exciting. Then, if anyone ever gave us something new, I placed it in a tub. Tub items included puzzles, books, toys, short books on tape/CD, etc. We set the timer and required the boys to play with the items in the tub for 20 min. at this age. :D

Once the younger child is 3 or 4, I have scheduled an older one to do computer with the younger one, sitting by to aid and talk through the preschool type educational computer CD's (like Jump Start or Reader Rabbit toddler or preschool). :D

Last, I've found that if I schedule some time to be one-on-one for 10-15 min. with my little one, early on or mid-way through the morning, then he is more willing to go play on his own. Even reading a book or singing a couple of songs with him will give him that one on one time. :D

You can see that as much planning goes into the 2-3 year old's day as goes into any part of HOD! There is also much training there too! But it pays off big dividends in your year all year! :D


In Christ,
Enjoyed LHTH to USII
Currently using USII, MTMM
Wife to Rich for 26 years
Mother to 3 sons, ages 21, 18, and 14
Author of Women's Devotional
Sister to Carrie

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