Thursday, 27 February 2014

We're starting tot school! (Indoor toddler activities)

 Toddler Activities: Easter and Saint Patrick's Day   
Last week, I wrote how I have been trying to come out of a rut, and I've been putting in a lot more effort into doing educational and fun activities with my toddler. It's been going really well, and I've managed to fill a few pages of my idea notebook with indoor toddler activities. I've decided to get more organised and structural with our play. So we are going to be starting Tot School, and I'll be sharing our activities on Tuesdays. I'm not too sure if I'll be sharing a list of our plans and what we've accomplished, our progress, or just some highlights. We'll see how this new adventure will go!

We started working on a few activities this, but we're easing into it. For example:

Spring sensory bin

Spring sensory bin with roses, flower stickers, beads, bunnies, magnets, eggs

Easter eggs, crinkle-y paper, more flowers 

I wanted to set up an activity to celebrate the fact that it is finally warming up here! The days are longer and we are all very excited for spring time around here. If we would not be (hopefully) moving in a month or so, I would be making preparations for a fruit and vegetable garden with the kiddo. Think about all the learning that could happen there!

Another toddler approved activity that we worked on was matching up four leaf clovers and learning about their colours. We are beginning to talk about Saint Patrick's Day, so I thought this would be an easy activity for the toddler to enjoy beforehand. I simply printed out a four leaf clover, cut it out, traced it onto the felt, and viola:

Saint Patrick's Day four leaf clover matching game

Saint Patrick's Day four leaf clover matching game
We matched them to each other and to some large buttons that we have. Kiddo had less patience for this one than the sensory bin.

I made a list of goals for next week, when I will be  setting aside a specific time, two to three times a day to deliberately set up several educational, activities for my toddler.

Why are we starting tot school?

Kiddo and I play together everyday and do whatever activity feels right at the moment, but with housekeeping, cooking, and extra errands, there are days when I know I am slacking. Other days, I realise that we hadn't even read a book! I need to set aside a specific time where kiddo has my undivided attention, when I am not thinking about getting to the next load of laundry, or getting dinner done. If I write in on my to do list and make this a routine, I (am hoping) that I'll be able to let go of thinking about the massive to do list I wake up to each day. 

I'm still worried about the kiddo's speech, too. He's getting exposed to Russian, Frisian, and English daily, and understands the first two very well. I speak to him in Russian (my mother tongue), Daddy speaks in Frisian (his mother tongue, a regional language in the Netherlands), and my husband and I speak to each other in English. Because I am home, the kiddo's main language is Russian at this point, but he still doesn't say more than fifteen or so words. I want to set aside time daily where we can sit down and practice saying words. 

On a side note about the speaking - I realised that hubby and I need to change how we interact with the kiddo. He often gets what he is asking for without actually having to ask for it. He will point to something that he wants, or take our hand and lead us to it. We usually oblige and will say 'Oh, you want x'. I've stopped doing this. Now, I say: 'if you want something, you need to say "Mama, I want x" or "Mama, can you help me".' So far, this has actually led to a great improvement! The kiddo will go up to me and say 'Mama' now and will try to say the word of the item he wants. I'm really pleased! 

What will we be doing? 

Here is the 'curriculum' or toddler activities for next week: 

Monday - Learning colours 
  • Arts and crafts: painting 
  • Activity 1: Saint Patrick's Day coloured shamrock matching 
  • Activity 2: Sorting pom poms with tongs 

Tuesday - Colours and shapes 
  • Arts and crafts: Homemade play dough 
  • Activity 1: Match the car to its garage 
  • Activity 2: Find the shapes in the pasta 

Wednesday - Animal sounds and names
  • Arts and crafts: Animal stickers, drawing 
  • Activity 1: Name the animal using cardboard animals that we have
  • Acitivty 2: Books about animals 
  • Activity 3: Name the stuffed animal and practice directions (which animal is in the centre? to the right?) 

Thursday - Saint Patrick's Day learning (Half day) 
  • Arts and crafts: Painting shamrocks from toilet paper roll 
  • Activity 1: Green sensory box

Friday - Field trip and food day! 
  • Arts and crafts: Food printables to colour on 
  • We always go to the market on Fridays, which tends to take quite a bit of time out of the day. If the weather is nice, we will spend a bit of time walking around, talking about food. If not, then I may take him to an indoor play area beforehand. 

My plan so far is to include three 'full' days of learning and two half days. The order of these activities may change depending on whether or not we will need to run any errands. If the weather will be nice, we will also work in outside play at least three times a week, but spring time is already here and in Holland that means rain. A lot of rain. So much rain. 

Anyway, these are our plans for starting tot school! Here are a few links to blogs that I found incredibly useful for figuring out how to start tot school: 

Be sure to check out my Pinterest Board for more ideas:

Do you have any suggestions on how to start tot school? Stay organized? Activities? I'd love to read about your experiences! 

Thank you for reading,