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keeping 3yr old entertained while 9 yr old works.....


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I posted this elsewhere and it was suggested that I post it here.


I have a 9 yr old who we homeschool and 3 yr old who plays. I have been toying with the idea of playing school with him. NOT worksheets or anything but learning through play.


My issues right now are that he tends to watch too much TV. He does play really well by himself, but once he gets bored he goes and switches on the TV. What sort of non messy learning activities can I get him to do without breaking the bank? I like messy activities later on in the day once we have finished school and i can devote myself entirely to them.


How do you entertain your younger set while your olders do their work?



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I have filing cabinets filled with fun things for him to play with. The filing cabinets lock, the key is strictly guarded, he can only get one thing out at a time.


I have:


Balloons filled with sugar, lentils, beans for him to squish

Wood pattern block


white board (lap sized) with dry erase crayons

chalk board (also lap sized) with special triangular chalk just for him

crayons that are specially his

pom poms, glass beads, large beans (each in separate tubs) that he uses with dollar store tongs to put in a three sectioned tray. only one tub out at a time

scissors for him to cut scrap paper

a magnet and a mason jar filled with cut bits of pipe cleaner. they use the magnet to make the pipe cleaners stick to the side

I also have coloring sheets that he uses when we color. I bought a few dollar store coloring books and ripped all the sheets out and filed them in my Desk Apprentice.

I also made some handwriting sheets on Start Write for him. I figured since he was always stealing his brother's, if I got some just for him he would be happier. He is


That's all I can think of. Letting him "work" with us has been the best idea ever. He still gets loads of attention, but he's not forced to do anything. When he gets bored, I have him put things away so he can go pick a new activity. We don't have a TV, so he can't watch any. I have started giving him my phone so he can play Angry Birds and other games when Pigby is doing his math. Digby would start throwing the MUS blocks at Pigby and making a ton of noise and it was very difficult for Pigby to concentrate. Getting him out of the way for 20 minutes seemed to be the best.

Edited by meggie
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I feel so guilty about the amount of time Wee Girl spends doing nothing while I do lessons with Middle Girl. With 5 years between them, there's just not much I can do with both together.


Except RS French. Somehow Wee Girl, just by watching her sister do RS, has acquired a startling amount of French.

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A lot of it probably depends on temperament too. We've had great success with montessori-inspired activities, similar to a pp, I have it set so that dd3 can't reach those activities independently and I pull out a few a day. Currently, we're doing some stuff with tracing letters on chalckboard and in sand, general play with sand/rice/lentils/oats, and pouring. She loves doing puzzles. She'll spend a week doing playdough every single day, for like an hour at a time. She likes beading and dress-up dolls, the play kitchen, Biggie Beads, but it all really waxes and weans depending on the day/week. She might not touch something for a while so I put it in the basement, and then when she comes down w/ me to do laundry she suddenly HAS to have that toy, so I make her bring something else down that she's feeling done with.


The biggest factor that I've found is that I've got to rotate toys for her and keep things fresh. While all kids put their own toys away (well, most of the time anyway!), I go through and cull their shelves regularly, rearranging the general toys shelf so that new toys are front and center.


Lastly, we use magazine boxes a lot for my dd10's school materials (one per subject), and so my dd3 has a few of these now as well. They contain things like workbooks, cutting practice, coloring books, etc. About once a week she'll spend about an hour working through those because she wants to be just like big sis. I bite my tongue a lot when she's not following the exact directions, and figure it's fine. Usually we start off following the directions and end up just cutting up random pages. It's all good.

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Duplos or megablocks


Building Blocks

Hot wheels and a track or two

Balls and a mini ball hoop


As other posts have said, could rotate through 1 of these every day of the week to keep them "novel"? Might only provide 30 minutes to 1 hr of fun, but that's better than another show! :)


I don't think it's probably too necessary to do "school" with him unless he really wants to, but I do know all my 3 year old boys have wanted to be active/active/active!


Good luck!

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We've had great success with montessori-inspired activities


I have 3 children, and this is what we did when my 2nd was a toddler and preschooler. My older two are now 8 and 5, and the 2 yo is starting to do a few Montessori-inspired activities here and there. He mostly climbs, destroys, asks for food or to use the potty, and still drives me nuts, but I think we're getting to the age where having them sit and attend to a little fine motor activity is easier.


I've also been taking the older two outside to read with me, or do math with sidewalk chalk, etc. because the toddler can play in the sandbox or play in the water table, etc. while they are getting something accomplished.

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