Encouraging a Younger Learner

Asalaam ‘Alaikum:

I’m sure you’ve heard me ask – time and again it seems – how to keep my youngest from absolute boredom and from constantly disrupting our lessons with my oldest daughter. It has not been easy – I have tried everything – from playdough, coloring, her own “workbook” etc., but she constantly disrupts in order to get attention. She whines that coloring is too hard and she needs my help or that she can’t do something that she does everyday without trouble unless we are having lessons. I have also tried allowing her to be a part of our lessons and she gets bored and starts to disrupt us with bad behavior. What fun it has been trying to find something that will occupy her mind and keep her happy at the same time!

On one of the homeschooling groups, someone shared an excellent link that has helped us in our search:


Essentially, at this age my daughter just loves to color, cut and paste things. So, I have these types of activities printed out for her when we start a lesson and it has helped. Here are a few other sites that have similar activities:




Here are a few other activities that my daughter enjoyed:



http://www.kizclub.com/ Browse this whole site – lots of neat stuff!

Another thing that my youngest absolutely loved was when I gave her a few magazines and some paper. We created a color booklet together. Essentially I put together a little booklet (folding papers in half and stapling – but you could also make scrapbook pages this way without the fold). I had her scribble on the page with the color we were working on and I wrote out the name of the color for her next to it. Then, she had to go through the magazine and find pictures that had that color. I would have her cut the picture and then paste it into her booklet. Her sister liked the idea so much that she has been begging to make her own collage book.

Today we decided to include her in our Math lesson plan. We are currently using Saxon Math for Kindergarten and at least at this point – we are learning basic skills that would not be too much for a preschooler (I don’t know about the rest of the book though). Anyway, today we were introduced to making patterns with pattern blocks. I cannot tell you how surprised I am about how much my youngest enjoyed this activity. We not only made patterns ourselves, but we also worked on a pattern sheet that already had a pattern and you had to place the shapes in the correct place (what I can’t believe is that my youngest always finished before her older sister! She seems to have a knack with puzzles.)

During our lesson I also talked to them about how you can actually make a shape out of other shapes – I just mentioned it off-hand because it wasn’t something in the book. However, I just placed a diamond on our workmat and then showed them how you can put two triangles together to make a diamond as well. First of all, after we were done with our lesson, my youngest refused to finish – she wanted to keep making designs. Then, much to my surprise, at one point she actually laid out shapes and then placed upon then other shapes in order to make that shape. If that doesn’t make sense, look at what she did (on her own, mind you):

So, I guess there’s no harm at this point in including her in our Math lesson – she gets bored with most of our other lessons but if I find something she is interested in, I guess I will give it a try. I am just amazed at how much she absorbs from daily life and especially from her sister, masha’Allah.
So, if some of you out there are having some difficulty keeping your younger child busy during lessons – give some of these ideas a try and let me know if they work for you.

Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
Sumayyah Umm SAA

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  1. Umm Junayd says:

    Wa ‘alaikumus-salaam.

    Those pattern things look really cool. I’ll try to keep my eye out for something similar. Did you buy them offline?

  2. Umm Zakariyya says:

    Assalaamu alaykum Sister

    Great ideas – as usual. My younger two (ages 6 and 4) are learning the 99 names of Allah. With some of the names, we stop and spend some more time, developing it into a unit study.

    Our next name is “Al-Musawwir”, the Creator of shapes. I will be using the ideas you mentioned.

    We have just discovered the fun of tangrams, which you may want to look into.

    wasalaamu alaykum

  3. otowi says:

    Saxon is okay for lower grades, but as a high school math teacher I strongly caution against using it past the primary grades. Students who have had Saxon as their only math end up knowing how to compute but not how to problem solve or think mathematically and they do not do well on standardized tests that assess those kinds of things.

  4. Asalaam ‘Alaikum:

    Umm Junayd – I purchased a bag of these at a local school supply store. I have also seen them on Ebay and at other online school supply stores. They are called attribute blocks and you can also find something similar called tangrams.

    Umm Zakariyya – we have tangrams also – my older daughter especially loves these but youngest has a good eye for these as well. She actually takes them out and puts them in place by herself and gets deeply absorbed in working with them, masha’Allah.

    Otowi – I am actually hoping at some point to move to Singapore Math unless I find something else I like. I like Saxon for now – mostly because of the manipulatives and it is showing her that math can be fun but I don’t feel that it moves as quickly as I would like. The nice thing in using Saxon is that I also use other math resources for teaching math – games, other books, etc. to reinforce those other things you mentioned.

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
    Sumayyah Umm Sadiqah wa Asma

  5. Assalamu Alaikum Sr. Sumayyah, wonderful ideas Jazaki Allahu khair. Ramadan Mubarak. Did you have the baby yet?

  6. Asalaam ‘Alaikum Dearest Sister UmIbrahim:

    No baby yet – should be here next week, if not sooner, insha’Allah.

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
    Sumayyah Umm Sadiqah wa Asma

  7. Sakeenah says:

    As salaamua alaikum wa rahmatullah, Alhamdulillah so glad I finally found of a name for these shape puzzles, thank you everyone. I just found a puzzle kit for 4-7 years called Tangoes Jr. looks fun!

  8. ummabdullah says:

    Wow i’m a little overwhelmed. I have a toddler who will be 3 starting in the fall, and it seems like there’s sooo much info out there, I don’t know how to get started or plan a cirriculum out for him.

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