I remember lamenting about what to do with that busy toddler of mine who wanted to tear the house apart or run around screeching while I was trying to work with my older children. And while I haven't completely solved that problem (yesterday comes to mind), I have tried to put together a few activities for Astrin that are quiet, stimulating, and hands on. Without further ado, let's go on a tour of what Astrin's mornings look like.
Once everyone is ready to face the day - breakfast eaten, teeth brushed, "outside" clothes on in place of pajamas - the three children go for a walk around the block. This gives me time to clean up the kitchen table and prepare for the lessons ahead. I've found mornings tend to go better with a morning walk - everyone has felt the breeze on their face, breathed in fresh air, and said hello to the sun, birds, and insects that they spot and are ready to embrace the morning's learning.
Astrin and I then do what I'm calling circle time. I have no idea what Waldorf purists would think of our circle time, but it works for us. We sing a greeting song, which I recall my grandmother singing to us as we rose in the morning, followed by a few songs about the body and a couple more about numbers. We cuddle up for a story, then Astrin has time on her own while I move my attention to the older children.
Astrin often chooses what she would like to do during her "free" time. Today she chose to read books. The other day she chose to sit at the table and sort the items in our nature basket. I brought out a cupcake pan and she carefully sorted shells, pinecones, rocks, and other items. She has also used the same cupcake pan to sort beads by colour.
I also created a rice bin for Astrin to play with, upon the advice of another homeschooling mama. It's a pretty simple bin, with cups for pouring, spoons for measuring, and sticks for stirring. When I first brought it out to play with, I told her the rice was to stay in the bin - if rice was thrown then the bin would be put away until another day. Some spills are expected, and in that case, she has her broom and dustpan for sweeping up the mess. While she doesn't sweep up every grain that falls, I'm trying to encourage her to clean up after herself. I must admit this activity has required quite the leap of faith on my part, but we have yet to cut time with the rice bin short!
Quite a few years ago, Nicholas was given a hammer-tic set. It consists of corkboard, a small wooden hammer, various wooden shapes with small holes in them and tacks. The wooden shapes are attached to the corkboard with the tacks and hammer. It turns out that Astrin enjoys this toy! I do need to supervise her, though, because of the small pieces.
Other toys that we have available to Astrin include wooden puzzles, Lego, and dinosaurs. She has paper for colouring, cutting and pasting at her disposal, as well as some nature-themed colouring pages I printed off. And did I mention the books of all shapes, sizes, and topics? She is a bookworm in the purest sense of the word, though she has yet to read a word.
I have plans for making additional activities and materials for her in the winter months. Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-school Years is a great resource for age-appropriate activities for younger children. Stay tuned!
What do you do to keep the harmony with your toddler while working with your older children?