We are going to start our homeschool year on August 6. That gives me two more weeks to finalize our plans for the year and curriculum. The good news is I’ve been working hard on it and it’s almost there, but as I was visualizing what our days were going to look like I couldn’t help fretting a little about how the heck I’d create the one on one time necessary to do math and language arts with Hailey without Kaitlyn interfering and wanting to be included. As I combed through the details of our day I decided I will need two 20-30 minute chunks of time one on one with my six year old, which means I need two 20-30 minute activities for my four year old that would actually hold her attention. In my distress, I reached out to my Instagram-Fam (you can follow me here!) and soon messages were pouring in from teachers and moms with incredible ideas for self-directed activities for spirited four year olds.
I had almost as equally many messages asking for me to share those ideas, so I committed to recording them all in this post for us all to easily access!
Some quick note about the listed activities:
- They are self-directed. I need something Kaitlyn can do completely on her own without direction or assistance from me, so no fancy craft projects or activities that require reading.
- Mostly technology-free. I listed a few suggested technological ideas at the end that were sent to me, but since my kids’ behavior suffers with screen time, it’s not something I want to rely on for everyday use.
- Some prep time may be required, which is something I’m considering taking time to set up on Sundays, so we will be ready to roll on Monday mornings.
- We plan on using a visual timer so Kaitlyn will be able to see how much time she has left for solo play.
Ok, without further adieu, here are 17 self-directed activities for spirited four year olds!
- I Spy Books
- Sensory Bins (make a new one monthly)
- Audio books (here are some of our favorites!)
- Journals (and encouraging her to draw a picture about her favorite part of the day before)
- File Folder Games (find 75 ideas and printables here)
- Handwriting Books (we liked this one)
- Write and Wipe Books from Usborne Books (we love their storybooks too!)
- Water Bin with Toys
- Kinetic Sand and toys or draw letters in it
- Cut out activities (lunch items and pack a lunch game)
- Cut and Paste Activities (I found some simple and cute ones here)
- Hide Items to Find (quarters)
- Sticker books
- Hidden Picture Books
- Lite-Brite (I remember loving this one when I was a kid!)
If you are into technology, a few highly recommended ideas were: kids yoga videos like Cosmic Kids (which is really cute!), Gus Spanish App for learning language, ABC Mouse, Reading Eggs (which I’ve used for Hailey for the past 2 years), Epic App which gives kids unlimited to access to thousands of books, audio books, and more.
For more educational toys and games for kids, I recommend shopping by age at Fat Brain Toys. It has helped me out so much when choosing gifts for my nieces and nephews and is full of quality products, instead of junkie toys.
I hope these ideas work well for you… and for my spirited four year old, too! 😉
Do you have any great activities to add that have worked well for the “spirited” children you know and love?!
John J. says
Go teach go! You are ready.
Blocks, playing pretend (dress up, kitchen) and playing with figures with our without a play set (castle, Batman, house, etc) are activities that keep my newly 5yo entertained for long periods of time. There aren’t a lot of other “sit and do” activities that would keep him in one place longer than 15 minutes. A few puzzles or a cut/create activity are also great ones!
Have you ever checked out the Headspace app? They have guided meditations for kids. It’s one of those things that works for some kids but is totally boring for others. Worth a try!
I’m bookmarking these for us on days when I feel like absolute garbage and need F to give me a break! (and he is the same way, both being super spirited and with screen time – it seems to make for really atrocious behavior these days, so it’s just a no-go, except for very special occasions.)
You are such an amazing mom/teacher. I would not be surprised if people are contacting you to see if they can get their child in your school!
Abhilasha Purohit says
All great ideas! Another idea is using pattern blocks. Once you buy the basic set, there are several printables available online to use those blocks. If patterns.blocks have been mastered, tangrams would be next!
Some great ideas here, thanks! We’ve had success with the “playaway” pre-loaded audio-books from the library. One book (or a few stories) per device and super simple to operate. Not exactly technology-free but I’ve found some high-quality titles and to me, it’s not as bad as straight up screen time.
What curriculum will you be using this year?
Brittany Dixon says
I’m finalizing it all this week then will put a post together about it! The Good and the Beautiful, Singapore Math, Beautiful Feet, and Apologia for starters 🙂
Jodie Flicek says
And what about printing off two sets of photos related to the theme of the week/month. Give her a set and hide the other set around the room so she has to go on a scavenger hunt.
Brittany Dixon says
Oh my goodness, what a cute and creative idea! I’ll have to give that one a try; thanks!
Love your blog! Do you buy your Usborne books from their site or somewhere else?
Brittany Dixon says
I buy them through a friend that is signed up as a distributor, and I got a couple at a homeschool convention. I think buying via the site (distributor) is best! 🙂