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Homeschool activities for Toddlers

Updated on August 3, 2013

How do I homeschool when I have a toddler?

One of the challenges of homeschooling multiple children in the home is knowing what to do with younger siblings. In our house, I am homeschooling my 5 year old, and her little brother is quite the challenge! So, how do you occupy those curious little minds? Find out here!

When I started on this journey, I was not sure what direction it would take. My husband and I talked about homeschooling off and on for the last few years. The opportunity arose for me to stay home with my children, and we haven't looked back. One of the reasons we decided to homeschool is because of my fears that my daughter would not be challenged enough and could possibly act out due to boredom. I often find her singing, dancing, and drawing. She and her brother are very active. My youngest is 2, and he is quite the handful. I wondered how I would handle him when teaching. I was fortunate enough to have my grandmother as a resource. She practically wrote books on the Montessori method back in the 70's. She eagerly handed me her manuscripts, and I've found them to be valuable in keeping my son occupied!

Photograph Resource:

Melissa and Doug

Great toys that I have found to be educational and entertaining!

Recipe for Fun

Here are some easy recipes your toddler is sure to love:

Colored Playdough


1 cup water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup salt

1 tablespoon cream of tartar

Food coloring


1 cup flour


1. Combine water, oil, salt, cream of tartar, and food coloring in a saucepan and heat until warm.

2. Remove from heat and add flour.

3. Stir, then knead until smooth. The cream of tartar makes this dough last 6 months or longer.

4. Store this dough in an airtight container or a Ziploc freezer bag.

Peanut Butter Playdough


2 cups peanut butter

6 tablespoons honey

Nonfat dry milk


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix, adding enough dry milk or milk plus flour to reach the consistency of bread dough.

Shape and eat!

Picture Resource:

Homemade Fingerpaint


1/2 cup cornstarch

3 Tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups cold water

food coloring


In a medium pan, mix all the ingredients together to make the finger paint. Cook over low heat 10 to 15 minutes. Keep stirring the finger paint mixture until it is smooth and thick. After the finger paint has thickened take the pan off the stove and let the mixture cool.

After cooling, divide the finger paint into storage containers depending on how many colors you would like. Add a few drops of food coloring to each container. Stir the coloring in to the paint to determine the shade of color. You're ready to finger paint! Cover tightly when storing.

Picture Resource:

Mix and Mash Bag


1 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

4 cups cold water

Food coloring

2 gallon-size ziplock bags

Duct tape


1. Over medium heat, combine the cornstarch, sugar, and water in a saucepan, stirring continuously.

2. Once the mixture begins to thicken, remove the pan from the heat and stir for another minute or so until it thickens to a pudding like consistency. Let it cool for 30 minutes.

3. Spoon the mixture into two bowls, stir a few drops of food coloring into each (we used red and yellow), then divide the colors between the ziplock bags. Seal the bags with duct tape and let your child mix and mash the colors (they'll keep for up to a week).

This project is excellent for tactile learners. You can also reinforce learning about colors and how they combine to form secondary colors. You can modify this project by using water and oil with blue food coloring. You combine equal parts water and oil. Be sure to add small plastic fish or marine creatures to complete an ocean scene!

Homemade Chalk


Toilet tissue tube

Duct tape

Aluminum foil

Disposable plastic container

Plaster of Paris


Liquid tempera paint



Step 1

Cover one end of the toilet paper tube with duct tape. Loosely roll a piece of aluminum foil and slip it into the tube so that it lines the inside, fitting snugly.

Step 2

Set tube upright duct tape side down on clean surface. Use another piece of aluminum foil here to protect countertops.

Step 3

In a disposable plastic container, help your child mix 1 cup plaster of Paris with 1/2 cup water. Stir slowly and thoroughly until plaster is dissolved, about 1 minute.

Step 4

Immediately add 2 tablespoons paint . Mix thoroughly.

Step 5

Spoon into the tube. Tap gently so mixture settles to the bottom.

Step 6

Let dry overnight before using.

Picture Resource:

Arts and Craft Resources

Here are some additional resources for toddler crafts:

What is Montessori?

I mentioned briefly that my grandmother taught using Montessori methods. While having a method or philosophy is not necessary, I want to share with you some of the concepts of Montessori.

According to Wikipedia these concepts are::

Inner guidance of nature All children have inherent inner directives from nature that guides their true normal development.

Freedom for self-directed learning The Montessori method respects individual liberty of children to choose their own activities. This freedom allows children to follow their inner guidance for self-directed learning.

Planes of development The natural development of children proceeds through several distinct planes of development, each one having its own unique conditions and sensitive periods for acquiring basic faculties in the developmental process. The first plane (ages 0-6) involves basic personality formation and learning through physical senses.

Prepared environment The right precise conditions around children allow for and support their true natural development. For young children, the environment must be prepared in this way by providing a range of physical objects that are organized and made available for free, independent use, to stimulate their natural instincts and interests for self-directed learning.

Observation and indirect teaching The teacher's role is to observe children engaged in activities that follow their own natural interests. This indirect teaching to control the environment, not the child, contrasts sharply with the ordinary teacher's role of implementing a pre-determined curriculum. For example, a Montessori method class has the teacher resolving misbehavior by refocusing the child to some positive activity, rather than engaging in the ordinary system of rewards and punishments.

"One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child."--Maria Montessori

Normalization During the 0-6 plane of development, children have the ability to shift their fundamental being from the ordinary condition of disorder, inattention, and attachment to fantasy to a state of perfect normal being, showing such external behavior as spontaneous self-discipline, independence, love of order, and complete harmony and peace with others in the social situation. This psychological shift to normal being occurs through deep concentration on some physical activity of the child's own free choice.

Absorbent mind The young child (0-6) has an absorbent mind which naturally incorporates experiences in the environment directly into its whole basic character and personality for life. This mental faculty, which is unique to young children, allows them to learn many concepts in an effortless, spontaneous manner. It also allows them to undergo the key phenomenon of normalization to return to their true natural development. After the age of about six, this absorbent mental faculty disappears.

Work, not play Children have an instinctive tendency to develop through spontaneous experiences on the environment, which Dr. Montessori referred to as 'work'. In this sense, the children's normal activity is attached to reality in the present moment, rather than idle play through such means as toys and fantasy.

Multi-age grouping Children learn from each other in a spontaneous manner that supports their independent self-directed activity. The ordinary Montessori classroom therefore consists of a mixed-aged group, such as 2-6 (primary level) or 6-12 (elementary level).

Montessori Resources

What does this all mean??

When working with toddlers, it is essential to have a variety of activities available.

Toddlers enjoy activities that include:

Novelty They enjoy new and exciting things because they are exploring a new and exciting world!

Hands on activities Toddlers are working on their manual dexterity. Be sure to include plenty of manipulatives (blocks, playdough, puzzles).

Mimic the Real World You may notice that your toddler mimics your behaviors. They are learning and discovering the many roles we play in life. Include things like play food, vacuum cleaners, kitchen utensils.


FUN!!! Toddlers want you to be engaged. I know this can be hard when you are teaching, but a simple clap or smile will encourage your toddler to complete their activity.

Kitchen Toys

My son loves to cook! He makes such a mess, but it keeps him engaged. I often put down a shower curtain and let him mix and pour to his heart's content.

Outdoor Fun

Being outdoors is always an adventure for toddlers. They love exploring and learning about the environment around them. Here are some ideas to spur on their sense of adventure:

Squirt and Paint


Old Bed Sheet

Squirt Bottle

Washable Paints


Secure an old bed sheet to a clothesline or in a convenient place. Fill a squirt bottle full of washable paint. It is not necessary, but if the paint is washable then you can reuse the bed sheet over and over! Now your toddler can squirt to their hearts content!

Picture Resource:

A sandbox is always a fun option for toddlers. This can be very messy, so prepare for cleanup! Provide shovels, sifters, spoons, measuring cups, funnels, or any other tool that mimics what you use in the kitchen. Children this age love to mimic you, so they will enjoy mixing and pouring.

Picture Resource: www.

The garden is a place of discovery and fun. Your toddler can help dig in the dirt or pull up weeds. You will want to designate where your toddler can work because they will be enthusiastic gardeners! You do not want them pulling up a healthy tomato plant!

Picture Resource:

Kiddie Pool

Yes it can be used for swimming, but you can do so much more than that! You can fill the pool with balls and let your toddler throw and kick them. One cute idea I saw this past Easter was that someone used Easter grass to fill a pool. They then put Easter eggs inside. My kids had a ball searching for eggs!

Another great idea is to make bubbles!

Bubble Solution


Liquid Soap (Joy, Dawn)



Use equal parts soap and water. Add extra soap if the solution does not bubble well. Some soaps bubble differently. You will not need much!

Now it's bubble time! Pour bubble solution in your kiddie pool. You will not need much . Just add enough to cover the bottom of the pool for about 1/4th of an inch. Hand the kids a bubble wand and watch the fun begin.

Picture Resource:

A Tip from

You can make a special box just for your toddler.

Great Product for Little Hands

Check out Wedgits by Timberdoodle!

Find Wedgits on Amazon

Wedgits are great interactive puzzles for all ages. Your toddler is sure to love them.

More Cheap Ideas to Keep Your Toddler Busy!

Here are some ideas for keeping your toddler engaged in play:

Spray Bottles-- I often fill a spray bottle with water and let my son squirt the table and chairs in our classroom. Be sure to place something on the floor so your little one does not slip! A shower curtain or area rug is a good way to handle the falls and spills.

Washclothes --My son loves to pretend he is cleaning. I give him the squirt bottle and a wash cloth and let him clean! He will do this for a good 15 minutes!

Pudding-- If you do not mind them making a mess, you could give your toddler a pudding pack to smear on the table and eat. Vanilla is preferrable since it will not stain as much as chocolate.

Blocks-- This is a good tool to use during math. My daughter is using linking cubes for math. This gives her brother an excellent opportunity to mimic her actions!

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    • iijuan12 profile image

      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      Great ideas! Thank you for sharing them!

    • Spiderlily321 profile image

      Spiderlily321 6 years ago

      This is a wonderful lens! I am currently homeschooling my 3 yr old son and always looking for more ideas. I even have a lens on some of the things that I do with him. Thanks for sharing!

    • noel rocs profile image

      noel rocs 6 years ago

      Love this lens!! I'm pinning it right now :) Make your own chalk--cool--and so easy!

    • smithlights profile image

      smithlights 6 years ago

      Awesome ideas! Thanks for passing on your recipes!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago


    • ttsm197 profile image

      ttsm197 6 years ago


    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 7 years ago

      Nicely done! Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 7 years ago from Croatia

      Excellent suggestions to keep tots occupied! :) Would love if you decide to make a review of some of the toys you presented here for toddlers club! :)

    • KarenTBTEN profile image

      KarenTBTEN 7 years ago

      Great ideas, and well written, with excellent pictures. Yes, I know the answer for many is to home (pre)school the toddler, too.

    • profile image

      poutine 7 years ago

      Fantastic suggestions and well presented.

    • profile image

      SnoopyGirl1 7 years ago

      Great lens! I keep trying to think back to how I kept my son busy when my daughter began homeschool a couple years ago. Now my challenge is homeschooling both of them at the same time. We are taking it a day at a time. So far so good!

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 7 years ago from Australia

      What a great collection of ideas.

    • profile image

      myraggededge 7 years ago

      This is wonderful! I love the 'recipes'! Blessed :-)

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 7 years ago

      A nicely done lens worthy of being *-*Blessed*-* and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust