Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Table Time Tot Trays

 My little guy is now 21 months old. Unless he is sleeping, he is super busy. It's been more challenging to do activities with him lately because his attention span doesn't last long. I was wracking my brain the other day trying to figure out how to help him focus for more than 2 seconds at a time and I happened to remember doing table time with James, Remi, and Aiyana when they were so little. It worked like a charm with them so I decided to try it out with Adam yesterday. Sure enough, it worked great! 20 minutes of uninterrupted learning time with Adam happened and it was delightful for both of us.
 I chose to wait until after his nap and after his snack. Then I left him in the highchair and showed him 3 games I had for him. I let him choose which one he wanted to do first and he chose the bugs. This was an activity that literally lasted one minute and he chose to do it twice. So two minutes of color matching practice was plenty for this little guy. We talked about the colors, the bugs, and making "matches". He matched all the flies to their right color with only a little support from me.
 The second game he chose was his letters. He loves letters and already knows more than half the lowercase alphabet. I wrote four letters on a piece of paper and had him match letter stickers to the correct letter. Easy Peasy!
The last game he chose was play-doh. He is not a huge fan of play-doh because of how it feels, but he's getting better with it each day. Today I rolled all his play-doh into little balls and we practiced filling his cup with balls and then dumping them out. This was perfect for counting practice, vocabulary building, and cause and effect. He loved this! Near the end he began smashing the balls as hard as he could with his hands and piling them up on top of each other.
 
 
Table time will now be in our day as often as we can. The afternoon can sometimes crawl by as we wait for Daddy to get home from work. So this was a very fun 20 minutes of our day. Plus, once he's been stimulated a little bit with some learning activities he generally goes and plays alone for a while after. It's a win-win!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Learning Letters (birth-18 months)

After teaching for a few years in public school, then venturing down the preschool road with James, Nana, Remi and now Adam, I have learned a few things about teaching children their letters. First of all, don't fear. It's easy. It's fun. However, I believe they learn their letters best when you start from day one.
 
The first few months of a child's life they are learning EVERYTHING. This is the perfect opportunity to begin teaching them their letters. At first, letters are abstract objects, like shapes, and can be easily memorized at an early age. If you will point out the letters in your child's environment they will quickly begin finding them on their own. Just as you would point out a star in the book you are reading, it is also wise to point out letters.
 
With Adam I began with simply pointing out the letter A everywhere we went. He has A's in his room, there is an A on the Walmart sign, at the Dr's office, on the trashtruck, etc. By the time he was 12 months old he was finding A's all over town. He simply learned what the "shape" of it looked like and can find it anywhere.
 
When teaching a new letter, it is best to attach each letter of the alphabet with a meaningful name, object, or word. For example: A is for Adam, D is for Daddy, H is for Honey Bunny, etc. As they learn more names and objects they can learn more letters. If you will attach each letter with a person or an object then the abstract letter can become more meaningful which will help later when you begin teaching letter sounds. I will not have to work hard at all at teaching Adam letter sounds because he already knows A is for Adam and I can slowly transition into A says "ah" like Adam. Seriously it's that easy!!!
 
The first 3 years of a child's life are the easiest time to teach letters. Please don't think I'm crazy when I say this. It's true. They are sponges. If you have missed that window of time it's ok. Children are sponges for a very long time. Just start today pointing out the meaningful letters that you see. If your child doesn't know a word or person that starts with U then skip that letter and come back to it. Once he/she masters a new letter then add another one to their list.
 
I add one to two letters at a time to Adam's life. This week I added E for eat, P for Papa, and H for Honey Bunny. He knows the sign for eat so I say E is for eat and I sign the eating sign. When we look out the window at Honey Bunny we point to his letter. Sometimes Adam finds an H in the playroom and then goes to the window to show Honey Bunny.
 
Here is a video of one of Adam's letter tubs. He simply has to match the foam letter to the written letter. I started this tub months and months ago and he would just have an A for Adam and a M for Momma. Each time he gets really good at those I add another letter.
video

Letters can be learned easily if you just start talking about them. Point them out, play with letter stickers, write letters in front of your child, play letter games, find them on billboards, find them on menus, etc. Start now with attaching each letter with a meaningful name or object and I guarantee you it will be a piece of cake to teach your child the sounds each letter makes.
 
Enjoy!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Adam's Tubs: 12-18 months

Adam's tubs are out and ready to be explored. I'm a little late getting new ones out because he's really been enjoying his Valentine tubs from a few weeks ago. There was no need for me to switch things out. However, the time has come to introduce some new things and once he wakes up from nap time he will be in tub heaven!
 
This is how his shelf looks when it is all set up. I won't have it like this when he wakes up today because he doesn't know how to do all of these yet, but a few days from now he'll be able to do these any time he wants.
 These are linking blocks, at least that's what we call them. They are fun for little hands to practice snapping things together. These are purely for exploration but I do require him to keep them in the basket as much as he can.
 This is his sorting activity for this week. I went with the color purple because we haven't really talked much about purple and because it matched my cute little sorting dish (Dollar Tree). Inside are just some little animals and he'll put the chickens with chickens, the horses with horses and so forth. This will a great time for us to talk about the animals and practice the sounds. We got this little set of animals from Lakeshore Learning and they are fantastic.
 His sensory tub is construction themed (because he makes the cutest little car noises) and the base is pinto beans. The middle brother has already been playing with this all morning so I know it will be a hit.
 He's obsessed with using a fork or spoon when he eats so this tub was designed to help him practice his spooning skills. This tray is also from Dollar Tree and I use this all the time. It's great for practicing tongs and other types of instruments for transferring objects. He will spoon the ball from the outside into the inside. This way he doesn't have to balance the ball on his spoon, but mostly just toss it in.
 We're still keeping our frog on the shelf because he loves the song "3 Little Speckled Frogs"
 This next basket is filled with some cute shape containers that several of my friends advised me to get from Dollar Tree. They have matching lids and are great for lots of different games. For now Adam will just practice getting the lids off and putting them back on.
 This bucket has his baby flash cards in it. He still loves these cards. I've started spreading about 10-12 on the floor and asking him to hand me a particular one. He's so cute as he looks through all the cards to find the right one. I never had these with the other babies, but I'm glad to have them now.
 This is our Melissa and Doug beading set; however, Adam isn't able to do the beading part yet so we just use the beads and put them on a big stick (metal chopstick) stuck through an old formula container. He can stack 5 beads on here and I know he'll love this tub. He's always ready to stack.
 This is a needle and thread set made by playschool. This is a much easier set to use for actual threading.
I'm looking forward to watching him play with these. Hope he wakes up soon :)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Valentine Tubs

 The great thing about Valentine's Day is that the holiday season doesn't last very long. I don't know about you, but I get so tired of doing Christmas crafts and activities after a whole month. With Valentine's Day I can get all excited and be creative for a couple of weeks and then I'm done!

Adam was excited for me to bring out his new tubs this morning. He knows when I have my basket of goodies that he's going to get some new games to play. I had bought this four pack of Valentine cups a couple of years ago to use with James and so I brought them out for Adam to do stacking games with. The first game we did looked like this:
 I put him outside the playroom and built a tower and then he ran in/crawled in and knocked it down. This led to him wanting to build the tower and me running in and knocking it down. It was so much fun!
Then I showed him how all the cups fit inside each other and he did this FOREVER!!! He loved figuring out how to get them lined up and stacked up. I love his open mouthed thinking face :)
 
 
Once he finally got them all stacked he was so happy with himself that he clapped! Ha!
 Next I laid out four paper hearts and told him to put one cup on each heart. This was great for one to one correspondence practice and counting out loud.
 
 Again with the clapping! Too cute!
 I had these little heart containers left over from the year James was learning to count and so I brought them out for Adam. I just had him put one little heart eraser in each container and then he put the lid on it. He liked this a lot, too.

 The lids are numbered from when this was James' game. He had to put that many erasers inside and then shut the lid, but Adam isn't ready for that. One eraser was plenty and we still got to practice counting to 3 .
These are a set of heart cookie cutters that fit together like a puzzle. I showed these to Adam and basically let him explore them today. I showed him that they fit together, but we didn't necessarily work on that.

 I got these flashcards off a local garage sale site and they are great. Each one has a texture to touch and mommy hints on the back of things to talk about. Adam carries these around the house, especially the rabbit card, and loves bringing them to me 14,000 times a day. They are cheap on Amazon if you need some.

 I've tried this a couple of times this week and it seems like he really gets it. I give him these two bowls and then I have a pile of pom poms. I show him the orange pom pom and ask him to put it in the orange bowl. If he puts it in the wrong bowl I say, "No that doesn't match" and then I take it out and tell him to "try again". He's gotten really good at it and I think in a few days I'll switch up the colors and see how he does.
Dollar Tree is FULL of Valentine things right now. Go grab you a few festive manipulatives and you'll be amazed at what your baby can do. If they can't do it, don't worry, they will in a month or two. Enjoy!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Learning the 50 States and Capitals

We've spent some time that last couple of months learning the 50 states and their capitals. This was not an easy task, but both boys now know them and feel quite victorious.
 
We have this large chart in our school room and I found the states and capitals as flashcards at Dollar Tree and it's been helpful especially for the capitals.
The boys first learned the 50 states song in order to help them at least pronounce the states correctly and sing them in ABC order. Here's one of  the songs we used. Here's the other one.
 
 
After they learned the states, and could point them out accurately on the map, they began learning the capitals. Then we used the chart to match the capital with the state. Here's the song we used to learn capitals.
 
 
This was at least a month of effort, but sometimes there are just things people need to know and this seemed like a quality thing to have them memorize. They are so capable of memorizing things so I like to always have something going on like this. 

Spelling Words and Shaving Cream

Do your kids ever dread practicing their spelling words? I have just the remedy. . . shaving cream! It's fun. It smells good. It feels good and they still have to "write" their words. Works like a charm!




Painting

We did a little painting today. Adam liked using a circle paint brush. He was pretty good at dobbing it on the paper. He's never thrilled with painting. He would much rather color, but I love painting with babies so he plays along with me for a while.  

 Here he is signing "please" because he's begging to be done. Ha!