Summer week 1: June 5-9

Art

Make a Tie like Daddy’s

Parent prep: From white construction paper, cut out a tie shape. From other various colors of construction paper cut out fun shapes for your child to glue onto the tie. It could be stripes, circles, zig zags, hearts, stars, anything that will be fun for the tie.

Let your children decorate daddy’s tie. For younger children it is sometimes easier to dip the decorations into a small puddle of glue. Older children get get their fine motor muscles working by using a stick of glue or squeezing liquid glue onto the paper. It’s ok if it gets messy! Let them decorate their tie as much as they like. Describe what they are doing and ask them to describe back to you as much as they can.

Stuff to Have

IMG_1717

-Construction paper, for tie

-Construction paper decorations

-Stickers, optional

-Glue

Developing Skills

Fine motor, art, gluing

Fine Motor

Ping Pong Ball Drop

Set out your jar and ping pong balls (or similar small ball) and ask your child how to put the balls in the jar. Let your child try dropping the balls in. If your child is young or not interested, demonstrate to them how to drop the balls in. Can they get it out? If it’s too easy for your child, make it more difficult by trying to drop the ball in from a higher point. Or, try something different by dropping a smaller object into a container with a smaller opening.

Stuff to Have

IMG_1698

-Ping pong balls, or ball similar in size

-Jar or plastic container with opening wide enough to fit ball

-Craft balls (smaller than ping pong balls), optional

-Jar or container with smaller opening, optional

Developing Skills

Fine motor, hand eye coordination, problem solving

Problem Solving

Find The Star

Play a game of hide and seek, only in this version hide a construction paper star for your child to find. For younger children keep it pretty easy, at their eye level and not too hidden. Also keep their level of mobility in mind. For older children, make it a little tougher, but not so much that they get frustrated. Children will love getting to use their problem solving skills to find the star. They will also love getting to take some turns hiding it from you!

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Stuff to Have

-1 medium size star (cut from construction paper or stiff fabric like felt)

Developing Skills

Problem solving, follow through

Early Science & Math

Who’s my mommy: Fish Match

Make 5 large fish in different colors of construction paper, and make 5 small fish to correspond to the colors of the large fish. This is an activity of matching. Matching the mommy fish to the baby fish based on color. Let your child play with how to match the fish together, all along describe what they are doing and what you are doing. If they enjoy matching, they can also sort by size, putting all of the big fish together and all of the little fish together.

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Stuff to Have

-Mommy fish: 5 large construction paper fish (all different colors)

-Baby fish: 5 smaller construction paper fish (corresponding to the mommy colors)

Developing Skills:

Early math (matching and sorting), fine motor, problem solving

Cooking and Baking

Choose a Summer Favorite:

Take this opportunity to make something that is really special to you and your family. Maybe a cold treat that you always like to make in the summertime, a favorite cookie, or maybe you have some June fruits or vegetables to harvest and make something delicious!


Along with these fun activities, it’s just as important to make sure you are getting in large motor movement, reading, and even some music and rhymes! Here’s more information about those things:

Large Motor: Find ways to use the big muscle groups. Activities could include things like jumping, kicking or throwing a ball, dancing, twirling, running through a sprinkler, or other outside activities. With Father’s Day approaching also consider something like golfing with daddy. Use wrapping paper rolls cut to your child’s size and a small plastic ball like a ping pong ball or golf ball. Your child will enjoy this large motor activity with daddy (or mommy) while at the same time working on their hand-eye coordination.

Books: Take a trip to the library and look for books about summer as well as books that match your child’s interest. Read, read, and read some more! They will love it and it’s prime time to get some snuggles.

Music and Rhymes: There are many online resources for music and rhymes. Look for some that focus on summertime, dads (for Father’s Day), and playing outside.

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Summer Week 1: June 5-9

Real. Meaningful. Family.

Art

Make a Tie like Daddy’s

Parent prep: From white construction paper, cut out a tie shape. From other various colors of construction paper cut out fun shapes for your child to glue onto the tie. It could be stripes, circles, zig zags, hearts, stars, anything that will be fun for the tie.

Let your children decorate daddy’s tie. For younger children it is sometimes easier to dip the decorations into a small puddle of glue. Older children get get their fine motor muscles working by using a stick of glue or squeezing liquid glue onto the paper. It’s ok if it gets messy! Let them decorate their tie as much as they like. Describe what they are doing and ask them to describe back to you as much as they can.

Stuff to Have

IMG_1717

-Construction paper, for tie

-Construction paper decorations

-Stickers, optional

-Glue

Developing Skills

Fine motor, art…

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25 Super Duper FUN Learning Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

When I say the word “learning” what do you think of?

Books… School… ABC’s & 123’s… Math… Science… Grammar… History… Quantum Physics?

Not bad associations with the word learning!  Now check out my 25 Super Duper FUN Learning Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers and I’ll catch you on the flip side to talk about it!

  1. Go to the grocery store.
  2. Play at the park.
  3. Blow bubbles.
  4. Play with play dough.
  5. Build a fort or a tent.
  6. Cook something together.
  7. Pick wildflowers.
  8. Play music and dance or make up new moves.
  9. Sort toys by color, shape, or size.
  10. Run, jump, and climb, inside or outside.
  11. Make a sticker collage.
  12. Take a bath.
  13. Pretend play.
  14. Find shapes in the clouds.
  15. Have a snack.
  16. Go for a walk.
  17. Color.
  18. Roll a ball.
  19. Make and play homemade instruments.
  20. Play hide and seek.
  21. Sing a song.
  22. Finger paint.
  23. Bring your child’s favorite animals to life with a puppet show.
  24. Read a book.
  25. Do nothing. Rest and snuggle together!

Are you thinking that is NOT a super duper FUN list of learning activities for toddlers and preschoolers? Are you thinking that is a super duper boring list of things that happen every day for toddlers and preschoolers?

You’re right! These are super simple things that are huge sources of learning for toddlers and preschoolers. Learning for young children doesn’t come in the traditional form of learning that we typically think of and it doesn’t come from making them sit down and learn what we want to teach them.

Learning starts with US! It takes us asking questions, making every day interactions interesting and applicable to their lives. Describing what we see and making connections for them. Playing along side them allows them to see our ideas and try them in their own play, it makes our relationship stronger, and is teaching them ways to interact with others.

So, this list of 25 things are some of the best (although not the only) ways that we can play with our kids on a daily basis. They will learn so much about themselves, social interactions with us and others, their language abilities will grow, as well as personal experiences with scientific and math properties (water, volume, matching, colors, observation, sorting, seriation, etc.), fine motor processes to lead to future use of scissors and writing utensils (stickers, picking up small objects, using utensils like forks, spoons, measuring cups, stirring, dumping etc.), problem solving abilities to stick with problems in their environment, art processes and letting creativity and imagination thrive, and lot’s of other areas of learning!

These are the types of concepts that I try to spread out throughout the weeks in my weekly activities. They should be simple, they should be developmentally appropriate, and they should be opportunities to play together to enhance their learning and your relationship! That is what my goal is every week with these activity plans. Not to create toddler or preschool “school” but to set aside time each day to ensure we are playing together with our little ones!

So, let’s go play together!

Capturing the Rainbow

 The work will wait while you show your child the rainbow…

But the rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.

-Erik Erikson

Just a sec… no, I’m not tearing up, I just have something in both eyes…

That quote gets me every time!

I have a major tendency of going overboard for special occasions… birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, holidays… I have that in common with Clark Griswold I guess…

I think there is something great about setting aside that time as different than the rest of life. Life kind of stinks sometimes, right? The world is chaotic, even scary at times, and in general ranges from over-scheduled chaos to the hum drum boringness of making food (it’s constant right? Or is that just my house?), folding laundry, and cleaning up the latest milk spill on the floor. So, when something is special, I want it to feel totally set apart from all of that… not ordinary, or every day, but fun, pretty, exciting, sometimes sparkly, and different. This isn’t to say that this is normal or necessary (my husband can attest to this), but just to give a glimpse into some of what drives me.

I realized a couple of years ago that I didn’t just want special occasions to be set apart from daily life, but I wanted to have chances every day that were set apart and meaningful. I was tired of putting my kids to bed feeling like I hadn’t done anything with them, rather we had just kind of gone through the routine of the day, coexisting rather than interacting.

…I have a point, and it does relate to this blog…

So, I started to fashion my schedule around my kids as my first priority and using these activities as a set way to know what I was going to do with them. Instead of working my kids in around everything else, I started trying to work in everything else around my kids. Now obviously it doesn’t take a plan, or special materials to connect with our kids or to have them learn. What this plan did for me was take away the constant “what should we do today?” It was just ready to go and I could focus on our time playing together.

And that’s what I want to share here in this blog “space”… my first goal is getting moms (or dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, babysitters) playing together with kids in a developmentally appropriate way. To take out the guesswork and have little to no prep, in order to set aside time each day to do something together with our kids. Not to mention, they are going to be learning, because toddlers and preschoolers are constantly learning!

Now, as an aside… the takeaway here is not perfection in parenting or teaching children. It’s about being real too. There are still busy days that we don’t get activities done. So, that’s why I wrote 25 Super Duper Fun Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers. Check that out to learn more about how these little guys learn… I think it will help take a lot of pressure off of your daily life! 

What’s in store for the next year you ask?

Well, I’m glad you asked.

The activity plans will continue to post with fun, developmentally appropriate activities and my tips and ideas to keep them fun and interesting.

My goal for the next year is to talk about research as it applies to children, development, families, relationships, discipline, education, and on and on… tons of topics that I think anyone with kids will want to hear. When I was in grad school I always felt like research information that would benefit families got stuck in something of a research cloud. It’s been my goal ever since then to get that information out to people that it matters!

So, that’s a little bit about where I’ve been and where I’m headed. It doesn’t feel possible that a year has gone by, but I’m extremely happy to have that milestone under my belt. If you want more information about me or my blog check out these pages:

Welcome to Real. Meaningful. Family.

Dr. Emily’s Story

Why Real. Meaningful. Family?

And of course…

Happy Playing!

There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.

-C.S. Lewis