Tips for Keeping Little Ones Occupied and Learning While You’re Homeschooling

July 23, 2019

Misty Mendoza

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If you’re a mom with little ones you know what a challenge it can be to homeschool your older kids while caring for your younger children. Little ones have a way of getting into mischief when our attention is somewhere else too long. Can you relate or am I the only one with “special” artwork on my walls?

I’m currently homeschooling teenagers and have two little boys, ages 3 & 4, that keep me on my toes. My girls work pretty independently now, but we still do a couple of subjects together and I need to be available to help them and answer questions.

Thankfully, I’ve discovered some ways to keep my little guys occupied and close by while I work with my daughters. Best of all, my little guys are learning too!

5 Tips for Keeping Little Ones Occupied and Learning While You’re Homeschooling

Keeping Little Ones Occupied & Learning While You\'re Homeschooling

Learning Buckets

Go through your children’s toys and organize as many as you can into categories:

  • Animals
  • Cars & Trucks
  • Dollhouse
  • Dinosaurs
  • Blocks
  • Alphabet Activities

Then separate the similar toys into small containers like these 6 quart storage boxes by Sterilite. It helps if the containers you use have lids to make storing them easier.

Put the learning buckets away and only bring them out for your children to play with during school. 

Why it works:

  • Children are excited to play with toys they had ignored beforehand, because they are not readily available to them.
  • Many kinds of learning buckets are great for quieter play and work well while you’re reading aloud.
  • It’s easy to rotate toys so your children won’t get bored playing with the same thing.
  • There isn’t a big mess to clean up. All the toys go back into their learning bucket when your child is finished playing.

Sensory Bins

Kids love sensory bins and even though some can be a little messy it keeps them busy. I like bringing them out for my boys to play with at the table while I’m working with my daughters or making dinner. They play really well with them for about 30 minutes, sometimes even longer.

If you need some ideas for what to use in your sensory bins, I share plenty of ideas in the post, 5 Reasons to Use Sensory Bins With Your Child.

Gross Motor Activities

Little ones need opportunities to learn to control their muscles and run off extra energy. Gross motor activities should be part of their daily routine. The day just typically goes better when they are given the opportunity run, jump, climb, or crawl.

Fine Motor Activities

Play dough, Duplos, pegged puzzles, and of course craft projects are all great for developing fine motor skills. Give your children a fine motor activity to play with or work on at the table while you’re sitting there helping your big kids.

Imaginative Play

Children learn best through play. Get your child started on a pretend journey and their imagination will keep them “traveling.” 

  • Make a tent for them to play in.
  • Designate the couch or their bed as a boat. Put some toys in the water (aka floor) for them to rescue.
  • Give them props, such as a doctor kit to care for their toy animals or costumes to dress up in.
  • Even a cardboard box can open the gates to your child’s imagination and keep them occupied for awhile.

Putting It All Together With Themes

I put all of these ideas and more together when making preschool themes for my little guys. We had a lot of fun with this Farm Theme Unit. Try it with your kids and see if it helps them have fun learning about the world around them, while buying you time to work with your older children too.

Free Printable Farm Theme Unit

The BIG Book of Ideas for Homeschooling Preschool has even more ideas for keeping little ones occupied while you’re homeschooling and it’s one of the freebies in the Back to School Freebie Bundle! Make sure you grab it by Friday!


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