Homeschooling with Toddlers – Magnet Board

Homeschooling with a toddler in tow can be the biggest homeschooling challenge we face day to day.  Trying to find things for kids too young for school but far too awake to be quiet (or if they are, it is cause for alarm and not peace) is a huge challenge.  In this series I will be exploring ideas inspired by Maria Montessori in her early education classrooms for keeping our youngest kids out of trouble and teaching them a few things too.  Adding these things to your homeschool classroom may just be the answer to buying you a few minutes with your busy toddler.

A question I get all the time:  Where is your toddler while your older kids are working on school?  The answer is always long… because it’s not easy having a toddler in tow while I am trying to teach 2nd and 8th grade!  However, I have gotten better over the years and I have a few tricks I have learned for keeping a young child occupied while homeschooling.  Hopefully some of these ideas can help your school days go more smoothly too!

Tip — As with any activity involving little ones, careful supervision is recommended.

Homeschooling with Toddlers - Magnet Board

Here are my kids.  I have an older one who is at the local public high school but these ones are all taught by little old me.

Homeschooling with Toddlers - Magnet Board

The oldest here is my daughter, who is in 8th grade and on the fast track to all things high school (yikes!).  Logan is next in line, who is in 2nd grade, but doing all 3rd or 4th grade work.  And then there is Luke.  The most professional 3 year old ever.  He is the king of toddlers.  

Homeschooling with Toddlers - Magnet Board

It’s not uncommon for people with huge families to always have a toddler in tow, but for my medium sized family, I thought there was a break somewhere.  But I discovered that somebody has been 4 or under for the entire time I have been a mom.  That is a LOT of peek-a-boo, people! 

Magnet Board

This handy learning tool is a great distraction for those toddlers who no longer put things in their mouths. 

Cost: < $25

Space Needed: Large

Prep Time: largely varied, but usually a few minutes each ‘theme shift’

Toddler distraction factor: High (at least 15 minutes)

I bought a drip pan from the local auto parts store, bringing magnets with me to make sure it would work, and then put it up on my wall with four 50# Command Strips.  Then I got out my handy-dandy glue gun and got to work.  Anything that could be turned into a magnet, was turned into a magnet. 

Homeschooling with Toddlers - Magnet Board

For the last six months, this has been a constant spot of toddler play.  When I get the inspiration, I add new things, but they are all simple household items. 

Biggest Hit Ideas for the Magnet Board:

Homeschooling with Toddlers - Magnet Board

Toilet paper and paper towel tubes turned into a pom-pom run.  I cut the tubes into varied lengths and hot glued magnets on the back of each one.  Then I added a yogurt cup to catch them at the bottom of the run.  This was the most successful idea so far.  He spent hours there making his pom-poms fall through the tubes. 

Homeschooling with Toddlers - Magnet Board


Homeschooling with Toddlers - Magnet Board

As the warmer weather hit I turned the pink pom-poms into cherry blossoms and sticks into tree branches for a Spring tableau.  I also made a fluffy snowman out of a few pom-poms and googly eyes.  This became Olaf from Frozen and we sang the “In Summer” song about 25 times a day.  Another hit with the toddler! 

Homeschooling with Toddlers - Magnet Board


Homeschooling with Toddlers - Magnet Board

We added a few dried acorns we found outside the local public library that has several large oak trees and even the older kids were moving them around.  (Pictured is Logan, then 6) 

Homeschooling with Toddlers - Magnet Board

When the school year started again I made apples out of buttons for A is for Apple Week.  He counted the green ones and the red ones, he sorted them into colors, and he took them on and off the tree hundreds of times and added them into a little paper barrel I had taped onto the bottom of the magnet board. 

Homeschooling with Toddlers - Magnet Board

Leaves from the Dollar Spot at Michael’s turned the entire magnet board into a beautiful autumn decoration and this is what it looks like this Oct. 

It has been a spot of endless open ended play.

The spot we carved out in our house for the magnet board is right in the center of our house between the dining room and kitchen.  This wall serves as our command center and we pass it all the time.  It is the perfect spot to put a little toddler distraction!

Homeschooling with Toddlers - Magnet Board

I haven’t even mentioned the magnets you can buy ready made, these are just the ones that I created myself! 

More Inspiring Ideas:

  • Stiff felt seasonal décor from Michael’s or JoAnn’s craft stores is perfect for changing your theme quickly
  • Fridge ABC magnets along with ABC flashcards for matching
  • A large paper pumpkin taped up with face pieces made out of magnet strips
  • Popsicle sticks to build houses (and perhaps a couple pom-pom pigs…)
  • Scrabble tiles to make simple words along with pictures (like “cat”)
  • Foam stickers or wooden craft forms that could be used for color sorting
  • Silk flowers to make their own bouquet with a paper “vase”

The possibilities are endless with this fun and versatile learning tool..  You may become obsessed (like me) with finding new ways to have fun with magnets! 

About Val

Valerie Rose, creator of the blog Collecting the Moments… one by one spends her days cooking, gardening, and homeschooling her 4 children on her urban homestead in rainy western Washington. With camera in hand, she is constantly collecting the moments of life and encouraging others to do the same with activities and inspiration for a simple, creative household. You can find her on Pinterest, Facebook and on her homeschooling blog where she documents all the fun learning her kids do day to day.


  1. Lynde Ugoretz says

    I love , love , love this idea! Thank you soo much. I teach Head Start in Hamilton NJ, and I am excited to use this idea with them…Thank you! So creative!