Inside Bonus: 25 simple easy activities that you can add to your homeschooling today
Today as I was working on a project for a client I had an epiphany. This one area kept coming up in my work with clients and my own children. When I looked at this area closely, I realized it impacts so many areas of our children’s education. On top of this, I noticed that by putting a lot of emphasis on this one area you can build a foundation for so many other areas. As I pondered all these connections my mind also posed the question: If I could only invest in one area of homeschooling, what would I invest in? Some of us have more resources than others, so this is really an important question to look at. It also helps us stay focused on getting the most bang for our buck, when educating our children. I am always trying to do more with less. For instance, I’m always looking for activities that teach more than one thing. This means spending less time in the classroom and more time playing. This is always in my mind when planning units for clients and myself.
So by now you are wondering, what is that area? The area is your ART CENTER. Why would that by my number on choice? For one, if you allow you children to choose their own materials to create, they will become super creative. I do not believe in doing lots of arts and crafts projects that look like they came from Pinterest. If you want to motivate your kids, create near them, and before you know it they will be creating all on their own. Show them how to use the materials and let them go. You want them to do the cutting and drawing. And why is that? Because you want them to build up fine motor skills. Why are fine motor skills so important? They are important, because they develop writing skills.
I have never talked to my kids about making books. I have been thinking this might be something I would do down the line with them. Yesterday they just started creating their own books all on their own. They are not writing yet. We are just starting to work on them making their letters. But here they are asking for my help with making books. They had me binding them and writing down the words they wanted in their books, while they drew and decorated them. I just love to hear the stories they come up with. What a wonderful project they came up with all on their own!
When I think about how reading is taught, I actually have been going about it from what I consider a backwards perspective. When I think of learning to read I think of sitting down with a book, but with my kids, I have been starting with writing. I have been using Montessori Movable Letters to have the kids create words and stories to send to friends and family. (Let’s just say the grandparents love this!!!) The kids love sharing their ideas. This has been motivating for them to start learning to write, and has encouraged their interest in reading as well. Now if the kids had not had the opportunity to work with art materials they would never have wanted to draw pictures for their stories that they are now sending to others. When kids are very little, art supplies are a fantastic sensory experience to boot. Few kids don’t love smearing paint everywhere or pounding Playdoh. Again here they are being creative, getting sensory stimulation and building fine motor coordination!!! How can you go wrong?!
As they get more adept at working with these materials you can start to have them build all kinds of creations. I used to take a bunch of these supplies and some recycling materials and put them out for the kids in an ”inventors box”. I would watch the kids create all kids of amazing things. I still love the simple plane my son made from popcicle sticks and glue. Something so simple that even flies (well, a bit). These supplies can be used for all types of STEM challenges. I am looking forward in the next few weeks to taking out our inventors box out, and seeing what our kids can build to keep an egg from breaking when dropped from our balcony. This is a classic STEM challenge that is so easy to do at home. I can’t wait to see what 5 year olds can come up with.
I am always using my tiny supplies like pompoms for math counters. I find so much inspiration looking at my art supplies when I am creating my math activities. I bet you will too, if you take a few minutes to rummage around your supplies.
Even history can be brought to life using art supplies. You can have the kids make dioramas or pictures of what they have been learning about. We have even tried to recreate some historic toys using our art supplies.
If you want to help develop emotional skills your art center is another place to start. Giving a 2 year old stickers can actually help develop grit. They will not be able to do it right away. They will be frustrated. They will want you to do it. You can certainly show them some tricks to make it easier like bending the page a bit, but don’t do it for them. Let them struggle. You can have them draw about their emotions and then you can discuss them. It is a great place for them to practice sharing. It is amazing seeing little kids share simple thing like markers. At first they will just grab them out of each other’s hands, but with a little direction soon they will be sharing and taking turns with the materials. Just make sure to put out a small amount of supplies, if your focus is sharing, to force your kids to share. I bet you never thought of your art center as a place to teach emotional skills. I hadn’t.
The other money saving thing is that you can use these same supplies to make so many of your own materials. This is where Pinterest is invaluable. If you are a DIY person, this is where you can shine, and save lots of your hard earned money. I am always amazed by the incredible things you can make yourself for your classroom.
If you had asked me this question a few weeks ago, I am not sure this would have been the first thing that popped into my mind. The more I look at it this question the more I am convinced, if you are on a tight budget this is the area to invest in. And you don’t have to go broke doing it. A dollar store will have many, if not all the supplies you will need to start your own art corner.
I also wanted to share the work that inspired this post. One of my friend’s husbands came home a few days ago from the hospital. He had had a stroke. This was unthinkable because he is a very young man. He has to learn all of his basic motor skills from scratch. She asked me if I could create some fine motor activities for him. He is at a 2 or 3 year old ability level at the moment. But we are hoping before you know it he will be functioning back at his previous ability level. I made a list of fine motor activities to get her started, and explained how she could make them harder as he progressed.
I must emphasize that these are not glamorous activities. They are simple. She does not have time to make elaborate activities. So I gave her basic activities that work, and are easy to implement. This is something I focus on all the time when I am creating and choosing activities for my clients. I give them easy to implement activities because I want them to spend their time interacting with their children with time-honored activities that work. I don’t want them to spend lots of time trying to make materials or figure out how to turn them into an activity. My purpose is for them to spend time educating their child and connecting with them. So some of these activities you already have at home, and you can start today. Some of these I am sure you are already doing, but it is a good reminder of all the simple things you can add to you repertoire to help develop your kids’ fine motor skills. For some of the less simple activities, I have shared links to where you can buy them. Even some of these activities you can probably borrow from friends or buy at consignment stores. I hope you enjoy this list of no-fuss basic fine motor activities.
25 No Fuss Fine Motor Activities for 2 to 3 year olds
1. Puzzles - with knobs – start with big knobs work to smaller knobs and then just smaller and smaller puzzle pieces.
2. Playdoh - Paint with big brushes and then move to smaller and smaller brushes
3. Duplo - then move into smaller and smaller legos
5. Putting pompoms into small containers like toilet paper roll
6. Crayons - small broken ones are the best to work on proper grip
7. Coloring books
8. Stirring – helps with writing letters like o
10. Bean Transfer – Have your child transfer beans by hand from one container to another.
11. Spoon Bean Transfer – Work on 3 finger grasp by having your child transfer beans using the proper grip from one container to another.
12. Hole punching
13. Tongs - Move pompoms with tongs to cup cake holder. You can move to smaller and smaller tongs and pompoms. You can also use practice chopsticks
14. Stringing beads start with big ones then move to smaller and smaller
15. Pipette water from one cup to another or use to paint with colored water
16. Peg boards
17. Busy book - work on fastening
18. Socks and Coats -Putting on and taking off socks and zipping coats
19. Snap and Lock Beads
20. Suction Cup Game
21. Sewing Cards
22. Cutting Book
23. Bottles - Open and closing bottles and jars of different sizes
24. Mazes - This maze book has been great before the kids could just start to make letters. Makes you work on control.
25. Writing Without Tears
Get Set For School – My First School Book
Letters and Numbers For Me
Kick Start Cursive
We are using this system for our writing system.
You may want to consider cursive because it is often very useful for those who have learning difficulties.
You can also have him write over and over in the book using different color markers.
26. Tweezers - You can use tweezers to move dried beans and beads from one container to another. You can also get dried corn and take off the kernels.
Disclaimer: I am an affiliate of Amazon. I am also an educator and not a medical professional.
Why am I an affiliate because I use Amazon everyday and it is easy to share what products I use in my home. As a mom of triplets that hates to go to the store this has saved my life. Also, it is a way for me to get paid for sharing my homeschooling ideas with you.