Troubleshooting: How Do I Keep Them Busy???

Tai Wrote:

My question is one I know you have answered a thousand times, but it seems to be my biggest struggle at the moment. My eldest is seven. He seems to focus and do much better on his lessons when there is NO distraction. The smallest bit of noise from his younger sisters (almost five and three years old) will have him out of sorts and distracted. Our playroom is right next to the school room (in order for me to keep a better eye on the girls). My only solution has been to let the girls go downstairs and watch a movie while we do school. But this can’t go on. I think my three year old is getting addicted…(I am only somewhat joking on that one!). Any suggestions, on how to help him focused with some distraction? Or how to keep a three year quiet without a t.v. to entertain her? – Thanks!!

And Christine wrote:

I second Tai’s problem! My boys are 7, 4 and 2. Right now the most productive/easier route is to have school during nap time. But the 4-year-old is giving up naps and this tired, pregnant girl could really use a rest!

And Jennifer wrote:

I need ideas for independent Activities for my 6yog. Her siblings are 11, 16 and 18 and they are busy with school in the afternoon when she’s been done since 10:30! She needs a simple schedule.

Way back in January of 2006, I posted a really great list put together by someone else, and I love her suggestions. I'll repost it here, and then I'd love if you all would chime in with your suggestions in the comments, as well.

The following list was initially submitted on The Well Trained Mind Forums by Michelle in response to the question posed about what items might keep a 30-month-old busy during school.  She then graciously elaborated in an email to me so that I could pass along her terrific ideas:

Craft Items That Aren't Very Messy

-twistable crayons (little ones can't peel the paper off and the crayons

don't break)

-foam sticker shapes or shapes with a jumbo glue stick - my boys like to make their own designs and patterns with these

-hole punch

-stickers (can decorate with them, or use blank labels and let them make their own stickers)

-simple coloring pages (let them color the pages/book, then go back through and cut out the pictures to decorate other things or make their own scrapbook - we love the Crayola spiral bound sketch books sold at Wal Mart for this)

-connect the dots

- rubbing plates- these from Amazon are really great

-true stencils aren't a hit here, maybe too detailed, but they love tracing shapes from the Lauri puzzles, then coloring them in and cutting them out

-Perler Beads - they love the tweezers too, good for fine motor - these get pulled out daily here, my kids can't get enough of them, the Perler website has some fun ideas as well

-pipe cleaners - bend into creatures or use to string bead patterns

-modeling clay for the preschoolers

-painting with water colors

-save empty containers/boxes for back up

Other Ideas

-retractable measuring tape (I think mine are broken annually. Buy cheapies!)

-dress up clothes & a laundry basket

-toss a king size flat sheet over the kitchen table

-pattern blocks and boards (my kids like Super Mind)

-Leap Frog DVD's

-Fisher Price Little People flash cards

-Leap Frog Fridge Phonics


-Kid K'nex

-Primary Bucket Balance

-Melissa & Doug Wooden Clock (numbers, shapes, colors/shades & telling time)

-Touch & Feel cards - we have colors/shapes they are board type flashcards

-music favorites that don't annoy mom (Kendra here- we love Go Fish!)

-Discovery Toys

Activities With Mom

-Brainquest - love the 2-3 & 3-4 year sets

-games: Sequence for Kids, Blokus, Letter of the Day Bingo, Sesame Street Bingo,Animal Upon Animal, Cranium Hullabaloo, Hi Ho Cherry O

-books, books, more books


Of course, you could always just give them your camera during naptime