I had the dot markers out this week. I remember thinking these markers were so expensive and wondering if they were worth it. Well, in our house they’ve gotten lots of play time and J still loves them. They were some of the first markers that I let him use actually (see J’s autumn tree here).
I made up this quick color sheet for J to use with the markers. He had to match the sound of each letter (or object) to it’s corresponding color. So he painted a green guitar, a purple panda, etc. I had him match the sounds and make a guess first, then he could check his answer by looking at the color names written on the marker to see if he was correct. He actually really enjoyed this activity and thought he was basically just coloring. He had no clue he was learning too
Here’s the before (the pictures are just clip art):
Here’s the after:
Age attempted: 34 months
Every now and then I’ll print out a scissor worksheet for J (just do searches on google and you’ll find lots of options). It’s really good practice. Using scissors requires lots of fine motor skills! Honestly most of the worksheets are too hard for him at this point, but he enjoys them. We really should practice this more often!
So J came up with this activity on his own. One day he was having tons of fun cutting up one of the worksheets and went way beyond just cutting along the dotted lines. He then announced that he had made a puzzle and I looked up to see him refitted all the pieces together!
This has become one more activity he wants to do after scissor practice. We mix up the pieces and he fits them back together like a puzzle.
Age attempted: 34 months
I made some quick counting cards and J used the dot markers to fill in the correct number of dots in each rectangle. I got the initial idea at Children’s Learning Activities (I just can’t find the exact post).
This could also easily be done with stickers, stamps, finger prints, candy/manipulatives. Change up the material you use and toddlers think you’ve given them a brand new activity!
This activity was done with no prep (it seems most of our activities this month are no prep since I’m crazy busy getting ready for a baby).
I cut out the squares while J counted how many we had ( cut out 9 of them). We then numbered them together (and he decided to make a number line with them). I explained to J how to make clovers using a green marker and green circle stickers. I used directional words like left, right and above (or sometimes “on top”) when describing where the stickers should be placed. I also used this activity to practice ordinal numbers (first, second, third).
At first I drew the stem myself and he added the stickers. He counted and told me when I had made enough stems to match the number written on each square. Then he made the stems himself too. I actually didn’t have a lot of stickers left so he also used a green dot marker to create some clovers.
Age attempted: 35 months
Posted in Age Range, Arts and Crafts, Counting, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Holidays and Seasons, Math, Ordinal numbers, St. Patrick's Day, Sticker Activities, Subject, Toddler (2-3 years)
I gave him a little bowl of Lucky Charms cereal and first had him sort the marshmallows using the sorting printout here. I actually had a bowl of cereal to sort myself. I’ve found this often helps J stay focused and work more independently. Sometimes if he’s doing an activity with me just sitting there next to him, he’ll ask for my help more often. If I have my own activity to work on, he’s fine doing this by himself. It’s also a great way to teach something new since I’m basically modeling what to do (and helped a lot when we did the charting later).
After sorting the marshmallows, he graphed them using the chart here. We practiced reading the graph to find out how many marshmallows he had in each category (without actually counting), and quickly determine which category had the most and the least.
J did really well on this. He waited so patiently to eat his marshmallows (I did let him eat the broken ones and the cereal as we sorted).
Here’s another chart that would work well for coloring, but there’s not enough space for actually charting the marshmallows.
Age attempted: 35 months
This activity took J’s matching skills up a notch and was cheap, very easy to prepare and from start to finish allowed for lots of play time.
First, we got some of those growing sponges from the dollar section as Target. I have no clue what these are actually called, but they come in little pill shapes and grow in warm water? I gave J a few new ones to play with during bathtime over the past few days. He’s still entertained by 2 or 3 at a time, so I might as well get good use out of that dollar. I tried implementing some learning during this time, keeping one in hot water and one in cooler water to see which grew the fastest. On another night we kept one still in a cup and the other he got to pour from one cup to the other to see if that made it grow faster. Honestly though, J was paying little attention to the mini-science experiment and just wanted to play with them.
We saved all the sponge creatures and when he finished the entire package I dried them all out and stored them with the packaging for a rainy day. On the back of the package, there is a silhouette of each creature along with its name. I cut those out into individual pieces and had J match the sponge creature to its silhouette. I keep a few different sets of these in ziploc baggies to pull out every now and then. As he improves, I increase the number to match each time. He thinks it’s a puzzle (and he loves puzzles).
This type of matching is actually a little more difficult because…
- they aren’t matching two exact items but rather an object and an image
- there is a size difference in the objects and images
- the silhoueete factor means there is little detail to each object and image, forcing to look at the outline of each object (and J often does not actually know what the object is so he must focus on shape)
- the colors of the image and object aren’t always the same
Age attempted: around 33 months
Last Christmas when I brought out our decorations, I found a set of Russian nesting dolls (don’t ask me why they were mixed in our Christmas decor). J loved them (age 20 months). That same year his grandma got him a cute set of nesting animals in his stocking that he’s played with all that year.
To me, nesting dolls are a step up from the nesting cups all pretoddlers love to play with. Nesting dolls are a little more advanced since they have to open and close each one. They provide great practice with size recognition, help you work on size comparison like smallest/largest, smaller/larger, large, medium, small,…
At 33 months they are still within his developmental level and keep his attention well. Maybe this is a “toy” you have around your home and have overlooked it just like I did.
This igloo craft was a lot of fun to make and I think it turned out really cute too!
What you need: blank label stickers (I actually used mailing labels and cut them down to size), construction paper, scissors, glue, black marker
What you do: Have your little one build a wall on the construction paper, using the labels. Once they’re finished, turn the paper over and draw a semi-circle on the back. Either have them cut out along the line, or you do the cutting for them. To create the door, cut out a second semi-circle and have them color a black door, then glue on top of the larger piece. After gluing his igloo together, he added some snow to his picture.
This was honestly supposed to go with a winter unit I was going to do with J… but 3rd trimester exhaustion has set in so the unit didn’t happen. I ended up cutting out the upper and lower case letter I, letting him fill those in with “ice blocks” and decided reinforcement learning was enough this day! J was quite proud of his final work of art.
This idea is from the Frugal Family Fun Blog.
This is another of my beloved sticker activities (gotta love cheap, easy and educational!). J did this on one of our plane trips and it worked beautifully.
Sorry the picture isn't very clear; I was using my iphone on a dark plane
Prep: I created a box chart for J to fill in with the number of columns corresponding to the number of colors I had on a sticker sheet. Since he was charting colors and this was the first time he had ever charted anything, I outlined each box in the correct color. Honestly I think I made it too easy for him with this. I just didn’t want to be stuck on the plane with him getting frustrated by an activity that was too difficult. Sadly I underestimated him!
I gave J the long sheet of smiley face stickers of all different colors and he was throughly focused on charting them. The sticker sheet had different shades of each color, so it was also good practice combining the various shades of purple/green. After he was finished, I had him point out the longest line and the shortest line and explained how this helped us gather information about the stickers (which had the most and the least). We then counted and labeled each bar to see if our deductions were correct. Of course, he didn’t understand it all completely. That’s ok. To me, it’s a matter of introducing words and concepts that we’ll build on as he gets older.
Look through your sticker collection to see what you can chart!
Age Attempted: 32 months
Don’t underestimate the age-old success of nursery rhymes! I think sometimes we get caught up in the new and improved that we forget the great benefits to the tried and true.
Nursery rhymes are definitely tried and true.
They are great for infants through to preschoolers (and probably beyound). The beauty with nursery rhymes, is it doesn’t take much effort to entertain our little ones with these. Very little prep work involved AND great benefits. The sing-song effect is very calming. They offer a great variety of vocabulary (and our little ones are learning from what we say whether we realize it or not!). Hearing the rhyming words over and over teaches detailed awareness of the language. They learn to listen for the sounds that make up a word (phonemes) which helps them learn how to work with the language. And they are doing all of this without worksheets or lessons. They are learning and we don’t even realize it.
Ways to include nursery rhymes in your day:
- Read compilation books with the best of the best nursery rhymes written.
- Recite them outloud while driving in the car, going on a walk or changing their diaper (they are great distractions for even the tiniest babies).
- Use hand motions and act them out.
- Sing them.
- Use them to encourage your toddler during clean up.
- Find rhymes that coincide with topics of interest or unit studies (ex: Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush would work well when teaching basic hygiene; The Itsy Bitsy Spider works with lessons on bugs)
- Add a nursery rhyme to your letter, color, or number of the day lessons (Little Boy Blue for blue day; Jack and Jill for J-day)
- March to the beat of a nursery rhyme (a great way to practice rhythm!)Do all of the above and do it consistently. Consistency is the goal.
But isn’t it funny how sometimes the easiest things are the things we forget about? At least that’s me. I’m counting this post as a reminder for myself
So here are a few popular rhymes in our house to get us started:
- Humpty Dumpty
- Row Row Row Your Boat
- Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
- Jack and Jill went up the hill
- This is the way we wash our hands
- Old McDonald
- Ring Around the Rosie
- It’s Raining, It’s Pouring
- Rain, Rain Go Away
Ok, this list is looking pretty typical, huh? I’m no nursery rhyme expert. I’m not even sure everything on the list counts as a nursery rhyme. I just use what I know. Sometimes I even forget the words and make something up that rhymes! My poor child will never know the real words for Lullaby and Goodnight but oh well.
Here’s some popular websites where you can print out both words and pictures for nusery rhymes, or even hear them with animation.
There are tons of books that compile nursery rhymes. J got A Treasury for One Year Olds as a gift that we still use now. The series offers a new book for each year, though we haven’t gotten any of the others. The older books apparently also include popular stories too. Of course there are cds you can buy that include nursery rhymes. We don’t personally own any, but my mom plays some for the grandkids and they love them. You could also record your own (see this post on recording stories on cd yourself).
This is something you can try right now!