Activities and Games to Keep Little Hands and Minds Busy

If you are a homeschooling Mom and you have two or more children, I really hope you will share with me how you handle them both at the same time. I find that I always have to neglect one while I handle the other. It is difficult to get them both involved in constructive activities at the same time. Perhaps it is the age disparity and their polar opposite dispositions. If you have any advice, tips or suggestions, feel free to share them in the comments.

In an effort to increase diversity in Gavin’s day, these are a few of the activities that we have been doing lately.

We picked this up at MPH as part of my effort to “cheer Gavin up” one morning when he was feeling rather bluesy.

It is filled with lots of fun and simple science experiments that you can do with everyday materials at home. Here are a couple that we did recently:

Living in Ice: you’re supposed to build a structure from ice cubes. The process will be difficult because the ice cubes will slide off. They then suggest sprinkling salt on the ice cubes so that they stick together. Unfortunately, this one didn’t work quite the way it was supposed to because my ice was melting too fast. We did sort of see the ice sticking together.

As Cool as Water or Air? This was another easy one showing that water takes longer to lose its heat compared to air.

2. Guess the Dinosaur

We play this in the car and in restaurants while we’re waiting for the food. It doesn’t have to be dinosaurs, it can be anything your child likes. It is great for a topic like dinosaurs because it helps to reinforce new names.

How the game is played: one person names x number of dinosaurs and the other person has to guess which dinosaur the first person is thinking of. For example, if we’re playing 6 dinosaurs, I will select 6 dinosaurs at random – ankylosaurus, chungkingosaurus, diplodocus, edmontonia, stegosaurus, and tarchia. Then I will think of one dinosaur from the 6 I have chosen and Gavin has to guess which one it is I am thinking of. When he gets my dinosaur, it is his turn to choose 6 dinosaurs, select 1 of the 6 and I have to guess which one he has chosen.

Variation of the game: one person thinks of a dinosaur and names one feature of the dinosaur. For example, the dinosaur has a clubbed tail.

3. Dinosaur Mosaic

I bought this one from Borders Bookstore while waiting for Gavin to finish his class. It was a spur of the moment purchase but a real hit with Gavin. Created by The Orb Factory, it is basically a mosaics by numbers. Each colour is allocated a number and you have to match the stickers to the numbers. It is pretty straight forward but the pieces are small and fiddly so it’s great for developing fine motor skills.

It comes with four pictures and shiny/textured stickers. The end effect is rather aesthetically pleasing. While a great activity for Gavin, it is once again a hazard for Gareth so we have to work on it only at specific times when Gareth is occupied with other activities.

4. Paint Your Own Hello Kitty Bank

Gavin received a Paint Your Own Hello Kitty Bank at a party, so I figured he could paint it and give it to his godsisters as a present (Kai Mah – it’s a secret so don’t tell R) since I’m certain Daddy would object to his son having a Hello Kitty Bank…

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

6 thoughts on “Activities and Games to Keep Little Hands and Minds Busy”

1. Jessica says:

Hi Shen Li,

I was pondering the same question of having to entertain 2 kids at the same time. I have a 13 month old only for now but hubby is keen for number 2 already. The only reason I have for putting number 2 on hold is I don’t think I can provide the same amount of attention for two kids as I am working full time. I can only spare 1 hour every night for our daily practice.

Just wondering if you have come across this blog of a very successful homeschooling mama, which is also the top homeschool blog of the year:1plus1plus1equals1.blogspot.com/ She has a few links to other homeschooling blogs that are equally inspiring. The majority of homeschoolers from these blogs have more than 2 kids and they make everything seem so easy breezy. Most of them practice workboxes and tot trays for their daily activity which is not right brain oriented. Tot trays are montessori inspired but with a little less clutter as you control the materials that is being laid out. I am using the 5-6 tot tray(for educational material/weekly theme related work) for my DS and so far it has been a success !! The only thing is I need to plan in advance and spend a little time filling trays and baskets (toys) once a week.

Hopefully the method above can help you to distract Gareth a little while working with Gavin 🙂

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2. Hi Jessica,

Sometimes I feel I didn’t think it through enough before planning number two. Despite the 3 year age gap, I wonder if another year would have made a difference. Of course individual child personality, temperature and characteristics play a big role in how well you can manage the two side by side. I find the polar differences between Gavin and Gareth sometimes very hard to manage. Of course it does help to be at home with them.

Thanks for the link. Yes, I have read 1plus1plus1equals1. She also raised the question of dealing with multiple children at the same time and does not have any definitive answers.

Unfortunately, I cannot implement the practice workboxes and tot trays because we currently live with my in laws (waiting to move out) and we have insufficient space to add anything. As it is, I have already had to borrow shelf space from our wardrobes to make room for bookshelves. The cupboard for toys and activities is on a landing next to a long flight of stairs – hardly a safe area for Gareth to play, not to mention that there isn’t enough space and there is no fan or space to put a fan so it’s very hot.

I usually take out stuff that I know Gareth likes and can occupy him for a little while. Again, only a limited amount of stuff and he usually makes a huge mess in an area that is generally a walkway. If I put it in the other room, I cannot see if he’s climbing the grill or pulling on the breakable decorative pieces my MIL has around the house.

I could go on and on but I guess suffice to say the environment currently is just not conducive. 😦 So until we move out…

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3. Fz Teh says:

I had conducted some simple fun science activites with V recently, even though the kit stated for children 8+, but if you have been teaching your children the same topic, then I strongly advise to buy these kits to enhance their understandings of very “simple” activities such as Earth, Moon Model Making Kit, Volcano Making Kit, Constellation, Friction, Dinosaurs….because I observed children learn best with hands-on activities.

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1. Great idea FZ. I’ve been looking at those but was always too worried they were too advanced. Which brands have you tried and where did you get them from?

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4. Fz Teh says:

I had bought about most my items at center section of Popular Ikano, the brand that I buy usually is by Kidz Labs Fun Science Products 4M. Thus far I had bought about 20 items, some I keep for near future when I think it’s uncommon to find.

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