|EASEL // LETTERS // NUMBERS // SCISSORS // CONSTRUCTION PAPER // CHUNKIES // VELCRO|
A few weeks ago, I shared a snippet on Insta-Stories of my setup for Max and I got A LOT of questions about it. When we moved to Delaware, I wasn't really sure what our daily routine might look like, but I knew we would need one ASAP or I'd feel very overwhelmed by all the new-ness. While I don't currently have plans to home school Max, I'm always looking to find ways in which we can supplement at home and add structure to our days/week. I suppose our time together during the work week feels less daunting as long as we have a plan. Anyone else in the same boat?! What I'm about to share with you is very simple, requires minimal planning, and should cost you very little. In fact, I feel a bit silly for even posting about it, but for those interested, here's my easy approach:
- I created a mobile learning center with the help of a cheap easel from IKEA and a set of felt numbers and letters from the dollar bins at Target. After acquiring these bargain buys, I got out a few index cards and construction paper and doodled the days of the week and weather. I wanted to give Max an interactive approach to learning and start getting him accustomed to a routine he might anticipate in preschool or kindergarten. I attached a small piece of velcro to the back of each card, number, and letter, so we could swap them out according to the day/week.
- Depending on the number or letter we're focused on for the week, I try to look at both our local and home library to pick out a few books that incorporate each. This week we're focusing on the letter "F" and the number six, so we'll read books about fish, farting frogs, and food. Max loves to make things, but I wasn't feeling particularly creative, so we got out the construction paper, googly eyes and markers and threw some fish together on a whim. The thing about kids is that it doesn't have to be "template perfect" to suit their needs. Just let them create and they'll be thrilled to the gills!
- I've never been someone that LOVES numbers, so you'll probably notice that our weekly lessons are heavy on the letter recognition and reading side. To emphasize math and the number of the week, I rely heavily on manipulatives. We use links like these from Discovery Toys to "graph" our numbers, along with keeping a group of popsicle sticks and plastic bear counters handy to represent the number we're discussing. Each week we add another to our grouping.
- If the week is particularly busy with other errands and to-dos, learn on the go. Point out items that begin with the letter of the week or have them count. Our makeshift learning lab has helped a ton with Max's recognition. Whenever we're on the go, I'll have him point out the letters or numbers we're talking about on billboards, signs, etc. He especially lives for speed limit signs and likes to remind me to go the speed limit. Ha Ha! Sometimes if things get nutty, we'll extend the letter/number into two weeks. The point is, YOU get to decide the pace you want to go. There are NO rules.
- I'm a planner, but I'm also busy and would rather spend my free time watching Bravo or scouring J.Crew's new arrivals, so I try not to over think this setup. In fact, most weeks I throw something together on Monday morning while Max eats breakfast. I get out a basket, browse his room, look for items around our house, and come up with a game plan for activities, books, or low-key crafts we can create to learn the letter/number of the week. It could include cooking or baking, building the letter/number out of play dough, collecting items that begin with the letter of interest or the amount we're focused on. Sometimes we'll scan his books to see if he can recognize the letter, or I'll have him look through One Thousand Things and pick out words that sound like they begin with the letter. One of his favorite activities includes sorting through his magnetic letters/numbers and alphabet blocks and collecting the week's number and letter with his vehicle of choice. This is also a great way of having him work individually and I can tend to laundry or drink my coffee.
- I opted to go in alphabetical and numerical order because it honestly makes sense to organize it that way for us. While there are many opinions regarding the order in which you should teach the alphabet, I believe that symbols like numbers and letters are still very foreign to a 3 year old and Max questions the WHY to everything. If I chose just any random letter or number, he would look at a number or alphabet chart and question WHY I skipped something.
- As most of you are aware, there are oodles of resources online so you can personalize this however you like. I personally try to stay off of Pinterest, because it can be a lot and most of the projects entail more steps or materials than I'd prefer. Instead, I stick to YouTube for catchy musical videos by Jack Hartmann, Koo Koo Kanga Roo, Go Noodle, and ABC Mouse. These especially come in handy when the weather is less than ideal and your toddler needs to MOVE. A LOT.