Monday, June 29, 2009

Learning Activity of the Day

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This past December, I decided that I needed to improve our learning activity of the day. We had previously had our theme of the day each day as discussed in Learning Activities (Preschoolwise) . This worked great, but as Brayden was getting older, I thought we needed more direction. January 1 is a natural time to start new goals, so we started a new program. Brayden was 3.5 and Kaitlyn was 1.5. I didn't really expect Kaitlyn to benefit from it as much as Brayden, but to my surprise she learned really quickly!

We have since built on it even more, but I thought I would post what we did then for those with the younger children. I think this is something that you could start even as young as 6 month or so, just in a low-key sort of way.

It was still a theme day, but I gave the theme direction.

Monday: Letter of the Day
Monday was our letter of the day. I started with the letter A and we worked our way through the alphabet. Each Monday was a new letter. I drew the letter A on a piece of paper. I would then ask the kids what letter it was. Then I asked what sound it made. I taped it to the cabinet (but after a few weeks I noticed that tape on wood is not a good idea--duh--so the fridge or something is a better idea). Then we went through the house looking for "A" words.

I tried to incorporate the letter A into our day as much as possible. For lunch, we would have an apple as our fruit. Any time I said a word that started with the letter A, I would stress the word.

Tuesday: Color of the Day
Tuesday was our color of the day. I just chose a new color each week. I would put up a piece of paper in that color. I asked what color it was. We then looked around the house for things that color. We each wore a shirt that color. We ate a food that color if possible. We were all about the color!

Wednesday: Shape of the Day
Wednesday was our shape day. I took the colored piece of paper and cut it into the shape of the day. We then went through the same routine of finding the shapes around the house and everywhere we went. I tried to incorporate food in that shape. If there wasn't a food that was naturally that shape, I would make a peanut butter sandwich and cut it into that shape.

Thursday: Number Day
Thursday was our number day. I am sure you are getting the picture by now. I started with the number one. I drew a one and also one shape from our shape day. So if shape day was a square, I drew the number one followed by one square. We then went around the house counting things that were one.

Friday: Free Day
Friday was the day I filled in with other items that had not been covered. Science, history, art, music, etc. (see Learning Activities (Preschoolwise) for more on these topics).

Like I said, I was surprised at how well Kaitlyn responded to this. It was such a simple thing to do each day. I figured just the extra exposure and focus helped her learn. With Brayden, we had a learning time each day set aside to focus on it more. Here are some ideas for different age ranges. I think once McKenna is 6 months, I will start exposing her to it, so my ideas for that application are here, though I have never practiced it. These age ranges are simply approximate. Of course, go at the pace of your individual child.
  • 6-12 Months Old: I think I will draw the A on the paper and then show it to her and say "A". I will then tell her the sound it makes. I will do the same for the other items. On the letter day, I might read her one of our alphabet books. On the shape day, a book about shapes. It will be low-key and just focus on exposing her. I might also just sing the ABCs on the letter of the day. I won't be expecting any sort of reaction from her (like, I won't expect her to tell me that is an A). My goal will simply be exposure.
  • 12-18 Months Old: If you are reading this for the first time while your child is in this age range, I would start with the ideas from 6-12 months old first. Then move on as you see your child is ready to move forward. This is an age range where the toddler understands a lot but can communicate little. If you have been doing sign language with your child, you could add learning the sign for what you are doing that day. Or, for example, on A day you could learn to sign "apple" or "animal" or something that might interest her.

    During this age range, I would just slowly start to add to what you have been doing. Children learn best when it is step by step (see Factors that Influence Learning and The Learning Process (Toddlerwise) for more on this concept). Don't try to jump to where you think your child should be. Start at the beginning and work your way up.
  • 18-24 Months Old: During this age range, get into the finding the A things around the house and counting the pillows on the couch to see if it matches your number of the day. Get excited about it. Incorporate your theme into as much of your day as possible. During this age range, most children start to speak simple sentences if they aren't already, so your child will likely be verbally responsive during this time period. She might enjoy flash cards, but don't push it if you can see she doesn't like them. Do them for fun, not to try to turn your child into the next Bill Gates.
  • 2-3 Years Old: During this year, you can start to incorporate more into the day. Your child will obviously grow a lot over the year (intellectually--they don't change a whole lot physically). Remember to build on things. This is the age of the really fun toddler! They are thrilled to do everything. Okay, I am biased. I love two year olds. I know a lot of people struggle with the two year old (and the chorus of "no" and "I do it myself!"), but it is one of my favorite stages. But very small things thrill the two year old. If your child likes to color, you can go online and google "letter A coloring page" and find hundreds of letter A's for your child to color. If it is D day and your little one loves dump trucks, google "dump truck coloring page" and take your pick. Your little two year old will also want to help a lot. On number day, let her help you make cookies, counting as you go. Be sure to see Learning Activities (Preschoolwise) . This post was written when Brayden was at the end of this phase.
  • 3-4 Years Old: This is the age range when you can start to have formal learning time. You can sit at the table and do activities that correlate with your theme day. You can also start to add board games. On your color day, you can play Candyland or play with Play Doh. On number day, perhaps Cooties or High-ho Cherrio. Go for a walk and find all the things that start with the letter "J" or whatever you are on. If you are on the letter "B", you could go outside and look for bugs. Use your imagination and play to your child's interests. As your child gets closer to four years old, I suggest you have time where he is required to sit and complete a task. Do an amount of time appropriate for his age and his ability and work up from there.

I am at the beginning of ages 4-5 years, so I don't have much I could add of value for that age range. I will say that I think a more advanced curriculum is probably a good idea for that age range. I will share what we are now doing in the next learning post. In that post, I will outline what we are doing and post some sample pages of our work in .jpg format. I will also be posting weekly themes in the Yahoo! group ( ).



Riddlez said...

I just love your blog. I agree with you on so many of the ideas, principles and topics. I have become a much better parent since I've started reading your entries. My oldest is 3 so I'm learning along with her on many of the issues you address. My second is now 6 months so I feel much more confident as a mom and less troubled with her growth patterns, but every child is different so I really enjoy your perspective and solutions for different personality types, etc. Thanks for being so diligent and reliable. Many a child will benefit from your willingness to share.

The Lubbers Family said...

Thanks for posting this! My daughter is 10 months and I was just thinking of things I can do to help her learn. Today we worked on waving hello! At this age I might just do a learning goal for the week. Like last week we taught her the "how big is Mary" thing where she raises her hands in the air. This week I want to work on waving when someone says hello. But maybe we'll start doing daily things too!

Plowmanators said...

Thanks Riddelz! I am glad I can be of use :)

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome Lubbers! Just remember to take it slowly and not stress about seeing strides at that age. I think it can be beneficial to a child that age just by nature of them being exposed, but don't expect her to start pointing to a letter and saying "that is an A!" ;) Not that I think you would, I just like to stress it.

LC said...

I hate to admit it, but this is where I fall short as a parent. I don't enjoy doing activities like this at all. My mom never did them with me, but fortunately I was a self starter and did well in school. My son on the other hand has not been a self starter and it has been rough for him in school. We are paying for tutoring. I hope my almost 4 mos DD will be more of a self starter. I admire all you mamas that get into this...most likely saving yourselves money in the future!

Kristy Shreve Powers said...

Wonderful post! Something about the way you lay it out so clearly makes me feel like I can do this stuff, too. I do similar structured activities with my 3-year-old, but on a haphazard and irregular basis. This sounds like a great way to put these things in his day in a structured way.

Meg said...

Gosh Valerie, thanks for posting this! I hate to admit it, but my daughter is 11 months old, and I had no idea I could start teaching her things. This post has really helped!

Alyssa Walters said...

Valerie -- I'm doing babywise for the 4th time with my 4th baby. I wish I'd known about your blog sooner! I am always looking for great learning activities for my 6, 4, and 3 year olds, and I love that my baby is almost 12 weeks old (so almost right on target with McKenna) -- half the time, you and I go are experiencing the same thing at the same time. Thank you so much!!! I can't tell you how encouraging!

Alyssa Walters said...

I meant to add that a resource I LOVE is My 6 year old (going into first grade) can read at an early 3rd grade level -- I think that does a great job of helping/motivating early readers. I am introducing it to my 4 year old and 3 year old this week (they are only 17 months apart, so what one does, both boys do) -- we will play games on this website together until I feel they can be trusted to play "independently" (which means I am not sitting with them, but in the same room with them to assist when needed). Just a thought that I wanted to pass on.

Kyle, Amanda, and Tobias said...

To piggy-back off of this idea, I've been doing lots of research online in this area since Tobias is 12 months and I really want to do this structured fun learning with him more. So here are some applicable links I've either found on my own or been shown by other Babywise moms. As a former kindergarten teacher I wish I'd had these resources for my classroom, they look like fun :)


Various Preschool, Homeschool, and Organization tips:

Preschool Activities:

Montessori Style Activities:

Literature-based Activities:

Summer said...

I absolutely love this! The former teacher in me can't wait to start this with my 9 month old!

I love having structure, organization, and routine. This helps me so much!

I can't wait to get started!

Kristy Shreve Powers said...

Thank you, Alyssa, and Kyle, Amanda, and Tobias, for those links! They are some of the best sites I have seen and I am already using them!

Plowmanators said...

Riddlez, Thanks! That is sweet of you. I appreciate it :)

Plowmanators said...

Lubbers, that sounds like a good thing per week. Or you could do one thing until she gets it and move on to a new skill.

Plowmanators said...

Lubbers, that sounds like a good thing per week. Or you could do one thing until she gets it and move on to a new skill.

Plowmanators said...

umm...yeah, so I didn't notice I had already responded to you two :)

Plowmanators said...

LC, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Doing these things is really fun for me.

Plowmanators said...

Thanks Kristy! I hope it helps you out!

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome Meg! I keep meaning to email you and thank you for my shirt, but I can't find your email address for some reason! I love it. Very cute.

Plowmanators said...

Alyssa, that is good to know others are going through similar things at similar ages :)

Plowmanators said...

Thanks for sharing the website Alyssa! I will definitely check that out. Brayden is always trying to read words. I bet he would love it.

Plowmanators said...

Thanks Manda! I am excited to check these out.

Plowmanators said...

Summer, it really is fun. I think you will be surprised once you start to see the fruit of your labor. Of course, as a teacher you might not be surprised :)


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