Category Archives: Planning

Christmas Activity Index

This time I included my Christmas Activity Index as a new page.  Click on the link in the header to see the fun activities I’ve found and want to try to incorporate this season.  I describe more in detail how I’ve used my indexes here  (present) and here (past) for those looking for planning tips. 

I’ll probably be adding to the list over the next few days and have already decided some of the activities can wait for January since they aren’t specific to Christmas (and we definitely won’t have time to complete them all in the next few weeks!). 

I plan to save my actual posts for describing activities I’ve personally tried with J.

I hope the index helps others too!

Introducing Thanksgiving to Toddlers

Each holiday (or season) I make a list of activities I might do with J.  I try to include books, videos, crafts, games, printables, field trips, and scripture/Bible stories that apply.  I never get all of the activities accomplished. I don’t really intend to do so when I create the list.  It’s just nice to have a quick go-to list when I’m planning out our weeks.  On the weeks I don’t get around to planning at all, I have a list to quickly pull from when the fancy strikes (or the toddler needs to be put to work!). 

I create the lists in powerpoint because, well, it’s my favorite.    I include any links to printables or the original idea right there in the list.  Any manipulatives that need to be created can be done there in the same file.  So when I open up my Autumn activities ppt, I have one page of activities specific to the season itself, one for Halloween and one for Thanksgiving.  All the remaining pages have manipulatives I created for the activities, as well as clip art and photos that might come in handy too.  Since the planning calendar I have is from I can easily fit that season’s activities into the calendar on the same file.

As we complete an activity I change the color font for quick reference. So far, we’ve completed the orange activities this year. 

Here’s my current Thanksgiving list:

2.Pilgrim hat cookies
3.Hand and foot print turkey
4.Popcorn corn craft
5.Operation Christmas Child (Nov. 15-20)- explain, shop, pack, About Me, Christmas Cards
8.Countdown to Thanksgiving
9.Bucket Filling
10.Pilgrim hat (styrofoam)
12.Thanksgiving Locational game or memory 
13.Post it note turkey
14.Spoon turkey
15.Quick story of Thanksgiving video
16.Mayflower Compact cartoon video (from Charlie Brown Thanksgiving)
17.Psalm 100
18. Thanksgiving library books

 I save the lists in case we want to reuse activities next year or complete activities we didn’t get to.  I can always add to it throughout the year if something extra special comes to mind.  I do try to keep the list reasonable and only include activities that are helpful in teaching (and, lets be honest, activities I think are just plain cute!).

You’ll notice that I DO NOT create all the activities myself.  Check out the links to some great activities! I might highlight a few later as I complete them, but no need to wait for me!  Thanksgiving is coming soon!

Planning Activities

I thought I would include how I plan our weekly activities.  Organization is not my forte.  I love it but have a hard time sticking with it. Hence, even these simple plans don’t get written each week.  Some weeks I’m more in the mood for sponteneity, another one of my  loves!  So we now pretty consistently go back and forth between weeks (or days) of planned activities to weeks (or days) of sponteneity. 

When I write out the weekly activities, I know that they probably won’t all get done.  I don’t feel a need to stick to the plan completely.  If J’s especially interested in one activity, we keep at it longer and push other activities to a later date.  If we wake up and the temps have dropped from 95 to 78, we throw all planning aside and go to the zoo (like today!).  On an average week we get through half to two-thirds of the activities, though there are rare weeks where less is completed… and even  rarer weeks where more is completed.

All that being said, planning something out really keeps me from letting him play with cars all day while I get distracted with other things.  Cars are great (and J does get to enjoy them a little every day) but a little variety in our day is great for both of us too!

Onto an example schedule:

This particular example is probably from 16 or 17 months??  It is one of my earlier schedules.  Back then I was more likely to fill in every box.  Current schedules have more empty boxes!  Note too that many of the activities planned are repeats; they are NOT all new for J.  He doesn’t need 20 new activities each week.  I would estimate that he gets 1-3 new activities every 2 weeks and even then sometimes “new” simply means mommy tweaked an old activity.  It’s new in J’s eyes though!

LESSON: I first include the lesson to be focused on that day.  There isn’t necessarily a specific time where I sit him down and teach him the meaning of “empty/full” but rather this row explains what I’m planning our lessons around for that day.  I give him lots of opportunities to experience that particular lesson throughout the day.  Our lessons may be letters, numbers, shapes, colors, concepts, Biblical/moral lessons, discipline training, physical actions, simple science, …

TT=Table time and Craft Time: We first started TT when J was around 13 months old.  It’s basically an activity done at the table.  Shocking name, huh! It typically focuses on hand manipulation and fine motor skills.   I have since combined TT and Craft time and we typically do one OR the other, not both in one day. When we started I could easily fit both into the daily schedule because his attention span was shorter and activities didn’t last as long.  Theytypically lasted 10-25 minutes each back then.  Now they last 20-40 minutes, depending on the activity.

Game: If the activity has a certain end goal to accomplish yet isn’t done at the table, I call it a game.  Typically these things combine gross motor skills and incorporate the lesson of the day. 

Outside: I include this in my planning because otherwise we end up doing the same thing every day.  Sometimes our outside activities incorporate the lesson of the day but often it is just my way of being sure I keep some variety!

Here’s a second example schedule, this one has lots more empty spaces! If I remember correctly, we didn’t get to any of Tuesday’s activities until the following week and I never did the Egg puzzles with him.  We were either out of town that weekend or the whole day was planned for work and errands.

 

Overall the lesson plan takes maybe 5 minutes to complete.  I have a list of overall goals that I refer to when choosing my daily lessons.  (I’ll probably include a separate post on that).  The chart I use is in PowerPoint.  I cut and paste the previous week’s schedule and change out the lessons and activities.  It’s not like I’m going crazy here ;)  Any prep for an activity is done 2 minutes before the activity begins, the night before, the morning of, or on rare weeks I’ll prep days before! Can you tell I’m quite flexible? :)  I do tend to have evenings where I’m in the right mood to prepare multiple homemade toys/activities for J to use in the upcoming weeks or months.  Those nights I’ll spend 3+ hours prepping.  Usually prep takes just a few minutes since most activities are repeats from weeks past.

So this is what works for our house. What works for you?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

New Favorites Page!

Check out the new favorites page in the top toolbar.  If you’re looking for a quick list to choose from to get started, I would recommend choosing from that page. I tried to organize based on what would’ve helped me the most when I first started.  These are all activities J enjoyed the most.    I split up the top activities by age groups and then separated crafts from homemade toys/games.  Remember that the age groups are generalizations, you will probably find activities that your little one could enjoy at an earlier age as well as activities that might need to wait for awhile.  I have only one child to base my generalizations on!

My criteria for a “Favorite” is: 

  • lots of mileage.   
  • easy to implement
  • easy to clean
  • entertain for a realistic period of time
  • cheap/worth the expense
  • encourage development

Many are activities that I have heard other mom’s say say their little ones adored too.

I hope this helps streamline things a bit!

Fourth of July

While we have yet to complete all of our 4th of July activities, I thought I would share what’s in the works in case someone’s looking for ideas.  I’ll try to add pics as we complete the activities. 

1. Our normal window decor using gel stickers

2. Introduction to U.S. map (pinpoint where family lives)

3. U.S.A. letter activity

4. U.S. poster (letters, flags, and map)

5. Stars and stripes counting

6. Flag craft with twizzlers

7. Red, White, and Blue search

8. Draw sidewalk chalk stripes and star relay

9. Star craft (add red, white and blue streamers on cardboard star)

10. Decorate yard with flags

The list is a little long, but notice that most of the activities are very simple, little to no prep and completed fairly quickly.  I’m planning on using the activities to help reinforce counting, simple patterns, basic knowledge of geography (recognize US map and where he lives, U.S. flag, and name of country), and I guess colors again.

I’m focusing first on the map and correlating it with the U.S.A., our flag, and where he lives.  Then I will be doing some simple flag/red, white, and blue activities afterwards.