Children who are not yet school age can be a real challenge while trying to homeschool older children. These children want to be in school too and, if we are honest with ourselves, we need a few minutes to work with the older sibling(s). And if they can be doing simple activities designed specifically for them, that do not require a crazy amount of preparation all the better. That’s why each month Smart Simple Homeschool publishes a short list of toddler and preschool activities for your little one.

In 2020, October has 22 school days – at least in our house it does – so each activity in the list is used about four times. The smallest of our bunch, who is still not ready for formal schooling, chooses two of the activities to do each day. He sits at his own place at the table to enjoy his time while I work with his older three brothers. I keep each activity in it’s own gallon zipper top bag and all the bags in a small container with our homeschooling things for easy access.

This month, each of the activities is designed to help your youngster with fine motor skills that are still developing at this stage in their life. Many, if not all, of these activities can be independent for your preschooler and should only need to be slightly hands on and monitored for your older toddler. They have definitely through the years allowed me to focus most of my attention on one of the older brothers.

So without any further ado, here is October’s list

1. Googly Eye Sort – In a bowl put a variety of googly eyes. You should include a variety of sizes and colors, if you can find them. Give your child a 6 count muffin tin or the print the mat included in our October Toddler and Preschool Activity Pack and allow them to sort the eyes into as many of the cups as they like. Make it more of a challenge by adding tweezers.

2. Toasted Pumpkin Seeds – Place a large number of toasted pumpkin seeds in a container and use it as a sensory bin. Add spoons, funnels, tweezers, toy trucks to increase the fun.

3. Pipe Cleaner Pumpkin Vines – Create a cut out of a pumpkin or print and cut out the pumpkin included in our October Toddler and Preschool Activity Pack. Give the child 5-10 green pipe cleaners and show them how to twist and bend them. Have them link the pipe cleaners together and twist them around to create the vines for their pumpkin.

4. Glue & String Spider Webs – Lay wax paper out on the table in front of your child. Give them a small container of white glue and several strips of string or yarn. Allow them to drag the string or yarn through the glue and then lay it out on the wax paper. Encourage them to make the string or yarn pieces cross. Allow it to dry. Peel off the wax paper and enjoy your spider web.

5. Bat Lacing – Print the bat included in our October Toddler and Preschool Activity Pack – preferably on card stock – and punch holes at the indicated spots. Give it to the child with a length of yarn and allow them to lace in whatever fashion they would like. Some will lace traditionally around the bat and others will make their own design.

6. Orange Paint Bag – Inside of a zipper top bag, place a blob of red paint and a blob of yellow paint. Zip AND tape the bag closed. Tape the four sides of the bag to a table and encourage your child to mush the colors together to make orange. After they have made orange, show them to use it to draw and erase.

7. Play-Doh Spiders – Give your child play-doh and demonstrate how to make a ball and a log. Then encourage them to make spiders. Print the mat included in our October Toddler and Preschool Activity Pack to help your child keep track of the parts he or she needs.

8. Envelope Pumpkin Patch – Print the pages included in our October Toddler and Preschool Activity Pack to create an envelope pumpkin patch. Cut out the envelope fronts and tape them onto the patch. Cut out the pumpkins. Allow your child to work on fine motor skills while taking the pumpkins in and out of the patch. For an extra challenge, put numbers on the pumpkins and envelopes for your child to match.

9. White Crayon Spider Web – Young children are always amazed by a white crayon on black paper. Encourage your child to make a spider web on black paper using a white crayon.

10. Dot Sticker Spider – Print the spider included in our October Toddler and Preschool Activity Pack and have your child put dot stickers around the outside edge in the indicated spaces.

No matter how you choose to occupy your littlest ones, remember keep smart. Keep it simple.