I know most of you have already met The Teeny Tot, but for those of you who haven’t, she’s a 2.5 year old relatively active toddler. Since we homeschool, I need something to keep her occupied while we’re working.

If I don’t have activities for her, then she’s more than happy to find things to keep herself occupied…for example last year, she painted my carpet with fingernail polish.

I’ve really found that the best way to keep your toddler’s busy isn’t to put them off to the side, or try to keep them out of your school stuff, but instead to just include them in the work.

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With that concept in mind, I set up The Teeny Tot with her own workbox drawers and desk space. (Click here if you don’t know what workboxes are.) She has her own pencils, markers, and crayons just like the big kids. And in her drawers are fun activities for her to pick from while we’re doing school.

She sits right at the table with us and does her work. When I tell my big kids to pull out their workbooks, so does The Teeny Tot. Although she doesn’t actually know what she’s doing, she’ll sit and color a workbook page for quite awhile…for those of you wondering, this wasn’t the case last year…at all! So if you’re in the midst of toddler chaos during school, just know that it will get better ;o)

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I usually try to give her some sort of transferring activity to do. If the other kids are working while she does this activity I’ll count with her as she grabs each item. This one is just some toaster tongs and a cute lemon slice ice cube tray (both from Bed, Bath & Beyond) and some colorful pom-poms. You can also direct them to “Get the pink one next, now do the blue one, how about the purple one next…” etc.

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When she’s done I‘ll usually have her take the pom-poms off the tray and put them back in to a little cup. Once that’s complete she’ll put her activity back in her workbox.

 

These weren’t in her drawer, but she loves to play and build with our Linking Cubes from Lakeshore Learning. They’re great for making patterns, counting, and building!

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I also try to add something to work on her logical thinking skills. This is a large piece puzzle from Alphabet Alley. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE their products! They’re nice and sturdy which makes it easier for little guys to manipulate and these puzzles are the perfect size for The Teeny Tot.

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I also try to add in something to work on her dexterity and fine-motor skills. These are Biggie Beads by Fun Fusion. They’re just like the smaller version, and the bucket comes with a bazillion beads and a plastic pegboard. You can use them to make designs, patterns, pictures and just about anything you like. This time she decided to do one row of each color.

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Finally I did a fun color matching activity. I found these oversized colorful clips at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Then I just took some 1 1/2” wooden disks and glued on a colored picture on one side and a solid color circle on the other side. Her goal was to match them all up. Once she was done I asked her to show me specific colors like “Show me the purple one, now show me the blue one…”

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I usually have about 4-5 activities for her to do per day, and no I don’t always put new stuff in her boxes, I try to grab random fun things so she has new activities each day…but you know how it is. And I’ve found that as long as I have a couple new things, she’ll repeat activities from the day before without too much complaining.

So that’s it, I don’t do anything super structured with The Teeny Tot right now. I just give her a variety of activities depending on what I have close by. Next year she’ll start on our Letter of the Week Curriculum, but for now just having her own activities seems to be working.

If you’re curious as to what the Teeny Tot was up to in previous years, click here to see A Day in the Life of The Teeny Tot.

24 Comments

  1. Thanks for the suggestions! I have a 3.5 yo and an almost 2 yo and I basically had her do “quiet reading” in the pack and play while I worked on a few things with my oldest. I’m excited to bring a few more things into play for her development, although I think she enjoys having the time away from her brother to read to her dolls 🙂

  2. Ahhhh…so timely. This week our “teeny tot” stuffed the toilet full of toilet paper (the overflow was a six-towel cleanup) and cracked a dozen eggs- all before noon. Although I could see him dumping that big bucket o’beads… Thanks for the constructive ideas :-).

    Michele
  3. Thanks for this – I am doing something similiar with my oldest in order to be intentional with things he is learning. I am in the midst of creating an adventure box and will put 1 or even a couple of activities in it each day that we can do together or he can work on alone. I loved some of the ideas you shared above to use as activities too!

    Jackie
  4. She looks so well behaved. My almost 3 year old son (my oldest) can barely sit down and do anything that intricate. If he did I would have to be on top of him the whole time he would do it. Is that a difference between boys and girls? Anyway, you have great ideas. I’ll probably use them when I homeschool him and little sister needs to be occupied!

    Shonda
  5. I was all excited to do a sort-of “tot school” with my little one this year while my 1st grader worked. However, my little one is 18-months and not interested in ANYTHING I came up with to occupy him. Back to square one. Got any tips for the teenier tots?!?

    1. You know, some of it is just the age. Last year our Teeny Tot was totally nuts during school! It was all I could do to keep her from destroying the school room. This year she’s content to sit in her spot and do her own stuff. I think she just wants to be a part of it all at this point.

      So I think my advice would be to have a box (or workboxes) of activities you can grab easily to keep him busy. Little guys love those do-a-dot markers and play-doh, and coloring, and cutting. I’d just try to mix it up. He won’t have a very long attention span, though, so you’ll just have to experiment to find what keeps their attention, then switch it up because the next day they’ll be bored with it :o)

      And lastly, don’t worry, it’s a short phase and they will grow out of it! :o)

  6. Hello! Thanks for the great tips…I also have an almost 2 y/o who doesn’t like it much when attention isn’t coming her way!
    Just an FYI…I went looking for the biggie beads to order and found them on clearance for $6 ($2.60 shipping) for 2 buckets of beads and peg board from HSN. I ordered 4 for gifts!

    Candy S

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