Little School of Smith's

Independence is something we all strive to teach our children. Promoting independence is key in raising independent, self-motivated children who are able to appropriately use the support of parents and friends as they grow.

Homeschooling provides constant one on one attention. While that is an amazing perk, everything is directed by me and I want to also encourage my children to grow and become more independent in their learning and play. Being able to give them a task, walk away and have them complete it. Develop their confidence that they can do activities without me!

Since my kids are at young ages we are starting early and taking baby steps in encouraging independent activities. So I created the “Challenge Jar.”

Just the name alone intrigues my kids. When I want my kids to try something on their own that they think is too hard or don’t want to do, I ask them “Are you up for the challenge?” and they immediately get excited and determined to complete the task.

The challenge jar is a bunch of popsicle sticks that have learning activities/ “challenges” on them that they have to complete by themselves!

Whenever they are done with their lessons for the day they can choose to pick a stick from the Challenge jar. There are only 2 rules: they have to do the stick they choose (they can’t say no and pick a different one) and they have to do the activity by themselves (that’s the challenge.)

These are also perfect for when they say they are bored, or something to do on rainy days. This year my son is also using them as an activity to do himself while I do schoolwork with my daughter.

These are activities that require very little or no prep work.

Here is a list of some of the activities in our jar right now:

  • Puzzles (for more of a challenge I’ll take numerous puzzles and dump all the pieces together- they have to find what puzzle it belongs to and where it goes on that puzzle)
  • Rhyming pages
  • Tape shape cover
  • Color match puzzle (made this with paint swatches and clothespins)
  • Sticker activity
  • Draw a picture and tell a story (we love these books)
  • Stringing beads
  • Pom Pom pickup
  • Button practice (I sewed a button on to some ribbon, cut some squares out of felt and they have to push the button through to string all the square pieces)
  • Build something blindfolded
  • Color matching cars
  • Ice cream number match (Ice Cream Scoop Learning set from Bitty Beginnings)
  • Beginning sound letter search (printable from The Measured Mom.com)
  • Pom Pom color sorting
  • Paper towel alphabet match
  • Build something with cups
  • Elastic counting activities (see my post HERE)
  • Alphabet parking lot (each car has a dot sticker on top with an alphabet letter -have to put a letter car in the correct parking space.)
  • Bead words (can use any flashcards with words on them. These can be found HERE.)
  • Number cards (place the numbers on the ground and give them something to count and match to the correct numbers. We use cars, trains, or Legos to make a tower.)
  • Playdough
  • Paint a picture
  • Build something with Legos (I give them something specific like a house, etc.)
  • Scissor practice
  • Play with kinetic sand
  • Lacing cards
  • Imagination Magnets (these are a lot of fun and makes a great gift too! 👍🏼)
  • My kids think these are a lot of fun and are proud to complete each activity on their own. I love that they don’t even realize they are learning too. 🙌🏼

    I add new ones as I think of them or take ones out that are getting too easy. For some inspiration on other fun independent activities you can use check out Days With Grey or Busy Toddler. Here are some great ones they have done that I can’t wait to add!

    Days With Grey:

    Busy Toddler:

    I hope these fun activities are able to “challenge” your kids, encourage them to complete an activity independently and allow you a minute to have a HOT cup of coffee. 😊

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