How do YOU keep little ones busy and quiet in your homeschool so work can get done?
I field this question quite a bit. It’s the #1 question posed by readers and members in my Rock Your Homeschool! Facebook group. And it makes complete sense!
Keeping your little ones engaged in appropriate activities AND staying quiet can be a challenge. It can kind of feel like climbing Mt. Everest. Or at least like a running a marathon.
Instead of letting the mere thought of keeping younger siblings quiet during your homeschool hours overwhelm you, be prepared. With the right materials and plans, you can engage those curious youngsters in positive learning activities (not negative destruction and noise).
Give these 11 quiet activities for little ones a try. Tweak where necessary and to change things up. These activities may not give you hours of quiet but they will buy about 15 minutes or so when given with the right instructions and expectations. And sometimes that 15 minutes can lead into another 15 minutes and so on. You can build upon your successes when you have made plans and prepared for quiet homeschool activities.
Set the Stage for Quiet Learning Fun
You can’t plop down a bunch of quiet homeschool activities for your little ones and expect them to stay engaged. Younger siblings need you to gently instruct and provide structure to their quiet activities. Without setting positive expectations, your little ones will likely lose focus, get loud, and create mayhem.
Your homeschool day might seem busy enough without having to pause to take the time to give these gentle instructions. Believe me, it is so worth it! You will have these instructions and expectations to refer back to when you need it (and you will!).
By setting safe parameters for your little ones to explore and play with quiet homeschool activities, you are giving them a gift. Kids need some type of structure to thrive and feel secure while learning new concepts and skills.
What type of gentle instruction and expectations could you give? Here are a few tips and suggestions:
- Use gentle but firm language. “You may use your crayons on the paper only. Your drawings will show up so nicely there! Remember, do not color on the table or any other material besides the paper.”
- No throwing-all objects stay on the table or in your hand.
- Reminders of where materials are allowed and not allowed. “Playdough is allowed only on the kitchen table. You may not bring it on the floor, in the bathroom, or put it in the dog’s crate.”
- Demonstrate different voice volumes. Reinforce using “inside voices” or whispers. You can turn this into a game! Pretend that your little ones are spies or working in a library.
- Show how to properly use materials. Some kids have a tendency to be a bit too rough. Gently guide their hands as you work with them on an example.
- Remind your little ones that their work does not have to be perfect. Kids often get stuck because they “don’t know what to do” or are afraid of making a mistake. Share the confidence you feel about them using these activities and how you are excited to watch them learn and try.
- Provide an appropriate consequence. If younger siblings do not adhere to your instructions and expectations, take away their fun quiet homeschool activities. Use your usual consequence (time-out, inability to participate in a later fun event, etc.).
- Pour on the positive reinforcement! When your little ones are quietly working on their activities, give them positive praise for their behaviors. “Oh, I love how quietly you are working on the puzzle! You are trying so hard and using your inside voice. I really appreciate your hard work.” Catch them being good!
11 Quiet Homeschool Activities that Little Ones Will Love
Age-appropriate puzzles can be a delightful way to keep little ones busy and quiet during your homeschool time. Block or wood puzzles provide little hands with more to grip onto and can be easier to manipulate. Regular puzzles with large pieces are great quiet fun, too.
Make your own puzzles for younger siblings by gluing magazine clippings onto cardboard (or just draw a picture on the cardboard yourself!) and cutting into puzzle pieces. Little ones love putting together DIY puzzles!
Simple coloring sheets, books, and plain paper can provide you with a decent chunk of quiet time. Crayons, erasable markers, and colored pencils are super quiet homeschool tools. If your little ones start to stray or get noisy, give them a few challenges. Instruct them to use a certain number of colors, patterns, or shapes. Write their names in bubble letters and have them decorate. Use your creativity to keep the quiet coloring time going!
3. Inventor’s Box
Put together a frugal inventor’s box that is age-appropriate for younger siblings. Let them explore the different materials and have fun as they create different structures and contraptions. Great way to encourage your little ones to use their imaginations!
4. Contact Paper Collage
This activity has always been a hit with my little boys! Cut a circle or square into a piece of cardboard or cardstock. Cut a piece of contact paper to size and adhere the sticky side to the back of the cardboard or cardstock. Provide your little ones with scraps of paper (or let them quietly rip some up), pom poms, feathers, or other material to create a collage.
5. Playdough Mats or Tutorials
Print out or draw your own playdough mats. Laminate. Show your little ones how to recreate the design or picture with playdough.
Another fun idea is to draw step-by-step instructions on index cards for a playdough tutorial. For example, if you would like your child to make a playdough tree, card #1 would have a tree trunk. Card #2 would have tree limbs. Card #3 would have leaves. Card #4 may have a bird nest or bird house.
6. Felt Bags & Scenes
This simple activity has saved our homeschool some days! Use zippered plastic bags to hold a variety of felt shapes and pieces. Larger felt squares and rectangles serve as a board for little ones to arrange the smaller pieces. You can let them have creative fun with an assortment of pieces or have a theme to use. A few of the themes in our felt bag stash include jack o’lanterns, table setting, hearts, and a Christmas tree.
Grab an old cookie pan and some magnets for a quiet activity for little ones. You can purchase magnetic letters, numbers, and shapes at your local dollar store. Or make your own magnets with magnetic tape and whatever you can get to stick to it! Paper, cardstock, fabric scraps, and even buttons can be fun DIY magnets!
8. Dry Erase Marker Activities
You can provide your little ones with a huge variety of dry erase fun! Take coloring sheets and place into clear page protectors. Give your kids erasable dry erase markers and let them color and trace. Wipe clean with a damp cloth and let them use it again.
9. Chalk Boards
Small chalk boards are great for quiet homeschool activities. You can make dashed lines and let your kids trace. Or just let them create pictures with chalk. Make fingerprints in chalk drawings. You may want baby wipes or a damp washcloth nearby to wipe chalk dust off fingers.
10. DIY Matching Activities
Gather objects of like color, size, or texture-anything that you can turn into a matching game! Cut pipe cleaners in half. Find pairs of stuffed animals or small toys. Write the same letter, number, color, or shape twice on index cards and cut in half. Encourage your little ones to have a quiet matching activity!
Take out a stack of old magazines and let your little ones have tons of quiet fun! Let them rip the pages and crumble them into balls. Show them how to gently and quietly rip and crumble, of course! Give them the challenge to see just how quiet they can do it!
If your little ones are old enough to use scissors, let them practice those cutting skills in old magazines.
These 11 quiet homeschool activities for little ones come from personal experience of homeschooling five boys. I hope you find them helpful in keeping younger siblings engaged and quiet.
For more quiet homeschool activities for little ones, check out how these sorting activities can save your sanity as you homeschool with little ones afoot. Here is a free printable instant download with sorting materials and ideas for sorting as a quiet homeschool activity with littles. Just click on the image below to download and print!