Homeschooling with Preschoolers
My 8 Best Busy Box Ideas
Ahhhh…. Homeschooling with preschoolers. Want some hard work? Try it. Everyone who has a child between ages 2 and 4 and is homeschooling big kids knows how difficult this task is. It is quite intimidating, really. So, while we make extra sure to include the little ones in read-alouds, fun coloring pages, and play-doh activities, what we need to find is a quiet activity for the littles while we are working with the bigs. Sometimes it seems like once we sit down to teach, the little ones want to use this opportunity to get into some BIG mischief. Like drawing on the walls with crayon. Maybe sneaking into the pantry for an extra snack. Not good. Not at all. Trust me when I say I get it. Just this week my sweet and darling little 3 year old was drawing pretty pictures on her wall during “nap”. I’m very thankful for my magic eraser. I’ve had to buy a case. If you can relate then just keep reading.
The key to homeschooling with preschoolers is to keep them close. That may seem counter-productive because preschoolers are generally loud and messy. I’m on my 2nd set of years homeschooling with little guys and girls. When we first started out my now 8 year old was only 3. That was when I discovered that we would need a way to keep her near me, while I could safely oversee what she was doing while also giving most of my attention to my older sons.
(In the spirit of full disclosure, this post does contain amazon affiliate links, which means that I may get a commissions if you decide to purchase anything from the following links. I only recommend products that I use and love myself!)
Enter busy boxes. I bought a cart of colorful drawers like this one here and filled them with games, crafts and work that they can do with their hands. This is something that they can do at the big table while we do our math and language arts workbooks. These are also something that will help them learn shapes, matching, sorting, colors, and patterns. These items I only get out during school hours so they will be that much more special for the little ones. If they had constant access these toys would lose their pizzazz (and most of their parts).
So here is my list of the best toys to fill the busy boxes:
This awesome toy from Learning Resources is a keeper! It is a pie that is filled with 7 types of fruit in 5 different colors. My little guys love this pie. It is listed as appropriate for ages 3-7 and that seems to be right. My 3 & 4 year old go crazy over this thing. It is very entertaining and great for sorting on shape and color. Also great for counting and patterns.
This toy has been a favorite of my son since the time he was turning 3. It is great for counting, sorting, learning math skills and creating patterns. It comes with 50 bears and 5 cups. The cups are also color coordinated – the same as the bears. This is a wonderful toy and very compact.
These wooden shapes and boards, made by Melissa & Doug, are really worth buying. They allow kids to use their tangram shapes that are brightly colored on these heavy-duty wooden boards which are printed both front and back with unique pictures. They include flowers, butterflies and a variety of animals as some of the puzzle designs. This is very entertaining to both my 3 & 4 year old and to my 8 & 10 year olds! We’ve owned our set for over 5 years and it is still going strong and loved by all.
This toy is fun! It includes a variety of shapes in different colors and is both a shape sorter and a pretend clock. It teaches kids colors, shapes, numbers and how to use a clock.
This is fun for both of my preschoolers, as well. It is a sequence sorter which allows them to group “like” items. These are divided into shapes, colors, and size.
6. String Beads
We currently have the one in the link above, from ALEX Toys. It is a String a Farm – with bigger pieces for toddlers and young preschoolers. I’m thinking of adding a more tradtional one to our set, now that mine are getting a little older, like this one: here.
I found both of my flannel boards at the local teacher supply store. One was the blue one available through the above link and another actually had a print already on it. These are fun for the kids for imaginary play. They love playing with the little pieces and creating scenes.
This is a great item from Learning Resources. It includes 100 cubes in 6 colors and also comes with 18 pattern cards. Your child can look at the card and try to create the shape that is on the card. These are great for pre-k up through 1st grade.
So there you have it! My 8 best busy box items to give your preschooler some fun activities during school time!