Littlies (1-8)

Photo Album of Things Our Littlies Get Up To.

written in 2002
Since then my thoughts have changed a bit
(I aim for the little ones to spend much more time outside),
but there’s still some benefit in sharing this.

Some mums have asked me what a day looks like for my little ones. While no two days are identical, we do endeavour to have a rhythm as routine helps little ones.
Occasionally we abandon ship altogether (once the chores are done and some dinner prepared – with six little children, some things MUST be done every day!!!) and we take off for the whole day for a walk in the bush or to investigate rock pools at the beach or to play at a friend’s place….but on those routine-y days, my under-five-year-olds flow through this rhythm:

  • Get up, get dressed, brush hair, make bed, pick up room, help set the table for breakfast, eat breakfast and have devotions with Dadda. Wave good-bye to Dadda.
  • Read Bible, recite memory verses and sing some songs with Mama.
  • Morning chores (keep singing as you work – work joyfully for the Lord)
  • Table time (sitting at the table, usually with Mama, concentrating on a particular something given by Mama – puzzles or drawing or stacking toys or shape-os or threading beads or sorting cutlery or playing dominoes or….)
  • Play alone in a room with toys Mama chooses (likely to be toys the child might not necessarily choose for himself!!)
  • Special activity – maybe a nature walk or playdough or carpentry or making a musical instrument or throwing a ball or collage or doing an obstacle course or walking to the library or weeding the garden or…
    (This could be an hour and a half or so – more than one activity in this time is likely to be appropriate, but sometimes the one activity will last that whole time, especially if it is a nature walk)
  • Work together in the kitchen preparing lunch.
  • Eat lunch and tidy up together.
  • Mama reads picture books aloud – and writes them down in a reading log.
  • Nap.
  • Freeplay time for children – riding their bikes, making huts, dressing up, exploring outside, digging in the sandpit, making a block city…..
  • Afternoon chores, dinner preparation and baths (if there is time, could be a video or sitting up quietly reading books before Dadda comes home)
  • Dinner and family discussion time
  • Bedtime!!!! (teeth, nappy, story, prayers)

Seeing “chores” on the list begs the question “What can a preschooler do?” Here are some ideas.

Chores a little one can do:

  • Dusting (or he can at least follow you round with a duster)
  • Set the table (obviously with guidance)
  • Make the bed (maybe not completely wrinkle-free)
  • Wipe down cupboard doors or kitchen appliances or the sink
  • Dry dishes (stand your child up on a chair and start with non-breakables)
  • Sort cutlery
  • Fold washing (start with face cloths)
  • Sweep the path outside (eventually he’ll be good enough to sweep inside!!)
  • Hand you pegs at the clothesline
  • Wave the toilet brush at the toilet bowl!
  • Hang towels up neatly
  • Fetch almost anything
  • Put away the same
  • Straighten shoes by the front door, cushions on the couch, books on the shelf…
  • Take the compost out
  • Collect the mail

Whatever job you are doing, it can probably be broken down into smaller tasks, one of which will be appropriate for a young child to help with. Just remember, the keys are gentle, consistent instruction and you working alongside your child (not leaving them to do it alone). Teach them to do a job well and once they can do it properly, to do it quickly.

Cooking a little one can do:

  • Shred lettuce
  • Slice mushrooms with a butter knife (ie not too sharp)
  • Measure ingredients
  • Mix
  • Pour
  • Flatten cookie dough on the tray
  • Knead bread
  • Scrub potatoes
  • Sprinkle ingredients on a pizza
  • Ice a cake
  • Stir a jelly

(or if you really don’t want your little helper helping, you could give him a bowl of rice or pasta and some spoons and little containers for pretending to cook!!!)

Kids CAN memorise Scripture. Especially if you make up a little tune to sing. Just remember to do it regularly and keep it enjoyable.
Genesis 1:1 is a good place to start!

What does the Bible say about….

  • Our life  
                Ps 139:13-14     Job 33:4          Deut 30:20
  • Eternal life
                Rom 6:23          John 6:47        Prov 4:20-23
  • How God loves us
                1 John 4:16      Ps 145:8-9        Ps 23:1
  • Loving each other
                Prov 17:17         1 Thess 5:11      Rom 12:10        
  • Serving God
                Gen 6:9                 1 Sam 10:9        Matt 2:2
  • Obeying God
                Ps 119:11           Luke 10:27        1 Thess 4:7
  • Obeying your parents
                Eph 6:1             Prov 6:20          Col 3:20  
  • How to obey
                Rom 12:21         Phil 2:14-15      Deut 5:27b      
  • God helping us
                Prov 3:5-6        Rom 8:26          Ps 79:9a
  • Some good things!
                Is 43:5             Col 3:9             Phil 4:12          

What about science?

Develop a naturalist!
Nurture a sense of wonder.
Learn to see God in creation.
Take nature walks, keep pets in a jar, perhaps keep a creation journal, plant a garden, have pets, read lots of books and learn to observe.
Enjoy the world – let kids explore. Don’t try to turn it all ito a lesson. Give them time to discover. In fact, children don’t even need to know that there is a “subject” called science. Experiencing it is enough.

And when your little ones have tired of independent explorations, see if there’s something on this list that you could encourage them to try.

Physical skills for a little one:

Roll over – Sit – Crawl – Stand – Walk – Walk backwards – Walk on balancing boards – Walk on a line drawn on the ground – Blindfold walk – Stepping stones – Run – Tiptoe – Jump – Hop – Dance – Skip – Skip with rope – Go up stairs – Go down stairs – Climb – Tin stilts – Wooden stilts – Obstacle course

Balloon play – Catch bubbles – Roll balls – Chase balls – Throw ball into bucket – Throw and catch balls – Throw underarm – Throw overarm – Bounce balls – Kick balls – Hit ball in stocking on clothesline – (NB start with big balls)

Push wheelbarrow – Ride-on car/bike/trike – Swing – Playground – Skittles – Hoops

What about fine arts in the life of a toddler? You can visit art galleries, display works of the masters on an easel in your lounge and talk about them, you can have paper and crayons accessible. Paints too if you like. You can make musical instruments together – anything that shakes or bangs! There are lots of books in the library with ideas for crafts – here’s a compilation of some of them. Remember it is not so much what the finished product looks like, but the process of the child actually doing the work himself that is important!

activity materials instructions
Ball painting Paper * Box * Paint * Balls/marbles * Tongs Place paper in bottom of box. Plave balls into paint containers. Using tongs take out & put in box. Tilt from side to side.  Take out paper & leave to dry.
Balloon printing Paper * Paint * Balloons Put a dollop of paint on paper & roll balloon around.
Blot painting Paper * Paint * Brush Put blobs of paint on one side of paper. Fold & press down. Unfold & leave to dry.
Blow painting Paper * Thin paint * Straws Spoon paint onto paper. Blow with straw. Leave to dry.
Bread figures Bread dough Shape, cook and eat!
Bubble printing Icecream container * Straw * Dye Child blows bubbles in dye. Place piece of paper on top to make print.
Cards Card * Paper * Glue * Scissors ~
Cellophane strip window Cardboard * Cellophane * Glue *Scissors Cut a “window” out of card. Glue strips of cellophane on the back & hang on a real window.
Chalk dusting Paper * PVA glue * Chalk * Sieve Paint a picture on paper with glue. Hold sieve above picture & run chalk over sieve.
Clay bead necklace Clay * Paint * Varnish * String Make beads out of clay. When they are dry, paint & varnish them. Thread on a string & tie.
Collage Paper * Glue * Brush * Odds & ends Stick odds & ends on paper with glue.
Cottonbud painting Paper * Paint * Cottonbuds ~
Crayon rubbing Paper * Big crayons * Objects to rub Place object under paper & rub over with the side of a crayon.
Dye macaroni Edible dyes (“Edicol”) * Macaroni *Oil * Water * Containers * Baking trays Make up strong cold dye solutions in containers. Add macaroni, leave briefly & drain. Spread on lightly oiled trays so each piece is separate. Leave to dry & reharden.
Dyed serviettes Plain paper serviettesScisorsContainersDyePegsGluePaper Fold paper in half & in half again to make a square. Cut corners away. Dip edges into dye. Dry on clothesline. Gently open & glue onto contrasting paper.
Eye dropper experiment Baby food glass jarsGood eye-droppersPaper towelEmpty bucketJug of waterRed, blue and yellow dyed water      Fill jar with water. Child fills eye- dropper with water colour & drips into jar of clear water. Repeats with other colours. When the water gets murky, tip into bucket, wash & start again.
Feather painting PaperPaintFeathers Paint a picture using feathers. Attach the feathers to the picture itself or on the frame.
Finger painting WaterSpongePaintShiny paper Wet table & paper. Place teaspoonfuls of paint on shiny side of paper. Child wets hands & makes patterns with paint.
Follow the leader drawing PaperPencils Adult draws a shape. Child copies.
Gloop Dissolve 1/2 cup cornflour in 1 cup water. Add 3 cups boiling water, stirring briskly until thick. Add food colouring or dye, ~
Kite Large sheet of thick paper with diamond drawn on * Scissors * Punch * Masking tape * String/woolFabric scraps * Paint/crayons Child cuts out diamond shape. Punch hole near one corner & reinforce with tape.Tie length of string through hole. Punch another hole & attach wool & fabric tail.Decorate kite.
Masking tape painting Masking tape * Very strong paper *Scissors * Small roller * Waterpaint *Sponge * Styrofoam tray Child cuts pieces of masking tape & places them on paper. Soak sponge in waterpaint & place in styrofoam tray.Child rolls roller over foam & then over paper. Leave to dry & pull off tape.
Mixing paints Paper * Paints * Brushes Experiment with mixing different colours of paint
Mobile Hanger * String * Scissors * Things to hang Hang things off a coathanger.
Painting big things Big things (boxes/rocks etc) * Paint * Brushes ~
Paper mache    
Paper strip chains Child’s own paintings * Scissors * Stapler Cut paintings into strips & staple together loops to make chain.
Puppets Socks/boxes/card * Tape * Sticks *Wool * Pens ~
PVA rainbow Squirty bottles * PVA glue * Food colouring * Margarine lids Mix glue & food colouring in squirty bottles. Pour into margarine lid & leave to dry. Remove carefully & hang up.
Sewing cards / meat trays Pictures on card or meat trays with holes * Shoelace Thread shoelace through holes
Sewing things on hessian Hessian * Odds & ends * Material scraps * Thread * Needle Sew things onto hessian to make a picture
Slime Dissolve 2 cups lux flakes in hot water & leave overnight to thicken. Add food colouring. ~
Stamps Paper * Ink pads * Stamps Make patterns with stamps
Sticking buttons Card * PVA glue * Buttons Stick buttons onto card.(Could cut card into picture frame and then spray paint once dry)
 Sugared chalk Coloured chalk (not dustless) * Margarine container half filled with  very hot water * 1 tablespoon sugar * Paper Place half sticks of chalk in water. Add sugar, stir & leave to cool. Child draws, replacing stick in water when finished.
Tissue printing Serviettes * Food colouring * Eye-droppers Fold up serviettes and drop on food colouring. Open out and hang to dry.
Tracing with template/cutting out Paper Templates * (colouring book pictures pasted on card) * Pencil *Scissors Trace around templates (or trace over pictures onto thin paper). Decorate, cut out & hang up as a mobile or stick onto things.
Vegetable printing Paper * Paint * Vegetables Cut shapes out of vegetables, dip into paint & make patterns on paper.
Wax paper picture Wax paper * Leaves * Iron Sandwich leaves (or grated crayons or paper) between two pieces of wax paper. Iron at a low setting so paper melts together.

Those are some ideas I found useful when I was starting to think about how to fill my children’s days. Of course, they do not represent all possibilities, but they are a start.
Ten Things to Do with Your Child Before Age Ten is an article I found simultaneously inspiring and overwhelming when I first read it. It doesn’t fit entirely with our own philosophy, but did provide some food for thought.


written in 2010
Now we have eight children
from a four-year-old
to a fifteen-year-old.
What does our day look like now?

We no longer have the need to eat as soon as everyone is up and so the day starts differently. The big kids get up early early and begin their own studies. Little ones (under 12) get up at a reasonable hour, do their morning chores and we all share in devotions with Dadda before he heads off to work. The rest of us head for the breakfast table!
Straight after breakfast tooth-brushing, little kids clear away the dishes while middle-sized and big kids do spelling and dictation with me. Then biggies get going on independent work while I read some picture books for the 4-10 year olds. We all come together to listen to some poetry and we make some connection with *the world in need*. Then handwork and/or drawing journals come out to be worked on while selections are read from novels or history books or living science books or all three. The four-year-old might play with dolls quietly…..or even head outside to explore. 
For the rest of the morning I am available to help as needed. Independent learners take off to the table with their books….kids pick and choose what they will work on; the smaller the child, the less formal work. Well before lunchtime the eight-years-old-and-under group is likely to be playing out in the fresh air.
Lunch (everyone pitches in to get it on the table and tidied up again afterwards)
SILENT HOUR (for my sanity) 4yo naps, others read silently. Anyone who cannot be silent gets to go to bed too.
The afternoon is free for exploration, more study for big kids, snuggling on my knee with pictures books for little ones, riding bikes, climbing trees, making huts, playing ball, crafts, experiments, music, board games…..
Afternoon chores
Littlies off to bed, middlies that way later, biggies eventually…….

The current little one gets far less “at her level” than the first four-year-old used to get. But she gets more free time and more “advanced” stuff! She gets much more learning-to-get-on-with-siblings practice, and she has many more helpers than just a Mama. The dynamics are different. Worse in some ways, better in others, but overall they equal our family now.


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