Toddler Tricks

My little guys and I are having so much fun with school this year! (Hopefully the older ones are enjoying it, too, but that’s a different post.) Homeschooling with babies, toddlers and preschoolers has always been a fact of life for me, but I’m realizing that my days of having such little people are likely numbered, and now more than ever I want to make the most of each moment.

My theory for keeping little ones happy while homeschooling older kids is to fill the emotional tanks of the youngest guys first. So, for years my practice has been, immediately after our beginning Bible class, to spend time with the toddlers and preschoolers doing activities and reading books while the older ones work alone. After about half an hour or so of this special time with Mom, they seem content to play nearby on their own. Paul, 4-1/2, also does a smattering of other school work through the morning.

Every summer I try to figure out what will work with my current batch of preschoolers. This time the challenge was finding a good mix for a 4 year old who is starting to read and a very energetic but nearly monosyllabic 2 year old. Though I’d recently written some reviews of terrific preschool curricula, nothing fit the bill for my crew. So I designed my own curriculum using the huge selection of books and resources we’ve accumulated over the years. What we have is a mixture of Bible, history, science, literature, math, music, art, and literature-based cooking. We have an alphabet theme (original, hunh?) complete with Bible memory verses, children’s songs, and snacks. I know I said it already, but we are having a riotously fun time! And yeah, most of the time several older children eavesdrop while ostensibly working on something else. Other times, like today when we baked gingerbread cookies after reading The Gingerbread Man they just plain join in the fun.

On Wednesdays we do some kind of messy art project. Some of the things my boys have made include scratch-and-sniff paint with Kool-aid, sidewalk paints, shaving cream pictures, bathtub paints and some other things I’m probably repressing. Oh yeah – there was the borax/glue goo, sort of like silly putty, which for some reason (we’ve done this before without this happening) smelled like a very bad diaper. But fun! The recipes for all these creations can be found in The Ultimate Book of Kid Concoctions.

Here are a couple of recipes we’ve used:


1/3 c. clear liquid dishwashing detergent
1 T. cornstarch

Mix together in a small bowl. Distribute among cups in ice cube tray. Add a few drops of food coloring to each. Have fun trying different combinations! Use on the side of the bathtub as fingerpaints or with paintbrushes. Washes off very easily from tub and boys.

(Make at your own risk! Maybe it’s the variety of glue used that affects the final odor.)

Solution A:
1 c. water
1 c. white glue
7-10 drops of food coloring

Solution B:
1 ½ c. warm water
4 t. borax laundry booster

Mix ingredients in soln. A together in medium bowl.
Mix ingred. in soln. B together in second bowl. Stir until borax is completely dissolved.
Slowly pour soln. A into soln. B. Do not mix!
Roll soln. A around in soln. B 4-5 times.
Lift soln. A our of soln. B and knead for 2-3 min.
Store Gunk in plastic zip bags.


Jill said…
Hey Anne,
please tell us what kind of glue you used so we won't have the same results!
Anne said…
Hi Jill!

I think it was Elmers Washable School Glue. Then again the problem might have been the rather ancient Borax we used.("20 Mule Team Borax" to be exact.)

I'm so glad you are blogging! I've really enjoyed your posts already!

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