December 2, 2013

teach and play

A dear friend of mine asked me for ideas to do some early pre-school activities with her almost 2-year old. I wrote this post a while back about teaching preschool in the jungle, and lots of the ideas are the same, some are different. 

Honestly, at 2-years old, the most important thing is to make it fun, don't push it, and go at the child's pace. Children learn so much through play at this age. Simply sitting on the floor and building block towers/coloring/driving cars for 10 minutes is some of the best interaction you can give a toddler. Don't overthink it. Really. 

So, dear friend, and anyone else needing ideas, here you go:

Designate a table or shelf where you can collect items throughout the week. Themes would be colors (all red objects), nature (pinecones, leaves, etc.), shapes (all square objects), etc. 

Get a large rubbermaid that is about 8" tall. Like the ones made for storing things under the bed. This will be your sensory bin. The theme ideas are endless. Search Pinterest for ideas. My kids always loved the sensory bin.

Read, read, and read. When you're not reading, listen to audio stories/audio Bible/etc. Classical music and children's music is also great to have on while they're playing. Become friends with the librarian. 

Color, paint, mold, and draw. We always have an art box. Invest in as many art supplies as your budget allows. Water color paint, finger paint, crayons, markers, glue sticks, pipe cleaners, etc. etc. etc. Get washable everything. I stick with Crayola washable. Do art projects often. Pinterest is your friend. Construction paper, stickers, googly eyes, etc. Play dough is ridiculously easy to make. 

Have a variety of things available for little hands. Popsicle sticks, pom poms, pip cleaners, pony beads,  etc. Cut up construction paper in little rectangles to be "money." Kids can keep themselves busy for hours with the weirdest thing, no joke. Keep treasures like empty TP rolls, canisters they can use, etc. 

If you have a spare book shelf or 2, make a mini in-house store. Use empty packages from your kitchen. Let him stock the shelves, shop, buy things, bag things, etc. A play kitchen will also be a big hit. There are lots on Pinterest to make yourself. 

Play lots. Whenever anyone asks you what to get him for his birthday, Christmas, or just because, tell them you want learning/educational toys. Don't buy plastic, battery operated toys - go for the classic wooden toys. They'll last longer, you don't have to buy batteries, and they foster creativity. There are some awesome toys out there. Melissa and Doug, Plan Toys, Woodkins, etc. Don't underestimate the learning power of playing. 

Spend as much time outside as the weather allows. Play in the dirt. Play in the water. Play in the sand. Kids are washable. Own outside toys like gardening toys, trucks for the dirt, water toys, etc. Make a water sensory bin in the summer. Let him get dirty. Get dirty with him sometimes too. Make nature art. 

Feed him. Include him in the cooking process. Let him pour and mix and stir. Yes, it takes 8 times as long to cook with a toddler, but it's worth every minute. Talk to him about what your doing too. This is a good place for early math skills as well as fine motor development. 

Have fun, fun, fun.
Here is my Pinterest board for more ideas. 


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