May Materials List

Here is a general list of materials to have on hand for the Month of May. For more details check out the individual activity instructions or the weekly plans. Links for those can be found on the Spring Activities Page. Below are printables in color or black and white of this list.

May Materials

May Materials Color

May Materials B&W

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April Materials List

Here is a list of the things we will need in April. Hopefully this will help you prepare for some of the things that are not as easy to have on hand. Be sure to check the activities or weekly plans for more specific details about the materials to have. You can find links to all of that on the Spring Activity page. You will also find below printables of this list, both in color and black and white depending on your preference!

April Materials

April Materials Color

April Materials B&W

Spring Week 1

Week 1

Believe it or not Spring is already here… well at least here at Real. Meaningful. Family! Spring doesn’t officially start for a couple of weeks, and the weather has been teasing us lately with occasional spring temperatures, but we are going to jump right in with Easter and St. Patricks Day activities! And I’m so excited!

A few notes to get started… I did some tweaking to the plan because I have to stress these activities are by no means meant to create “preschool” for these young children. It is extremely important that the activities not be mis-construed as a set “learning” time, rather as a set time to be together, have fun, and play. What I found with my toddlers and young preschoolers was that if I didn’t have a set time to play with them, all my other work got in the way! It takes prioritizing and being aware of what we’ve got going on to make sure we are sitting down and playing, reading, singing, moving, dancing, rhyming… with our little ones. So, you’ll find at the top of each weekly plan a little disclaimer of sorts that I am going to always have up their to remind ourselves what these activities are meant to be!

The other note that I am excited to mention is that the entire spring activity plan is ALL up on the blog. Woohoo! On the main page if you hover over Toddler Activities, and click on Spring, a schedule of all 13 weeks will come up! With each week is a link to that activity plan, and below the link to the activity plan are the blog posts about the activities that I have gotten up on the blog. That is also where you can find the materials lists for March, April, and May (April and May will post the Thursday before they begin). I am planning on blogging a bit about each week before they come and will include a link to the new week plan, but just in case I don’t it’s all there and ready to go!

Ok, so enough with the notes, here’s the good stuff…

Spring Week 1

March Materials List

Spring Activities

Happy Playing!

Seeds on a Sponge

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We picked seeds on a sponge for our “favorite” science and math activity this week. Mostly because we didn’t get it done in the week it was planned! I get this idea in my head that certain activities are going to be harder or take more time and then I dread them. This was one of them. It ended up going really fast and being a lot of fun. I need to remind my self of that. They always go fast and I always enjoy it!

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This activity idea originated a long time ago, back when I was a lead toddler teacher of 1-year olds. I literally have no memory of where I got the idea. I don’t really know why sponges and not just dirt. It’s even weird to me.

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But, I stick with it! And it end up being pretty fun seeing the seed. Because in the dirt you can’t see it, but on top of the green sponge we were able to see the seed changing. So, that’s probably why the sponge.

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I had pre-cut the sponges into circles to fit into sections of egg carton. That is totally unnecessary. Cut a sponge in half (or even in quarters if you want it smaller), because a whole sponge would be a lot of area to cover with tiny seeds. Set the sponge in a small container to catch extra liquid and you are good to go.

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I had my son wet the sponge first with a spoon (hello fine motor and science!) and then he sprinkled a couple of pinches of the seeds onto the sponge (more fine motor and science!).

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Then, we looked at them while they changed and talked about a good place to set them so that they could get sunlight. The great thing too is that you get to watch it change over time and sharpen those observation skills. With the youngest little ones it’s going to be a lot of you noticing and pointing things out and asking questions. Remember, just because they aren’t saying things doesn’t mean they don’t understand what you are saying! As they get a little bit older, they’ll be able to share the things they notice. Don’t be surprised if they notice things different than you. I love hearing how little guys describe things in their own language! So, be encouraging and supportive.

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Let’s talk about what’s going on here…

Fine motor: I know I already mentioned it some, but using the spoon to pour over water is a great fine motor movement. Think of all of the control that it takes to keep it steady until just the right moment that they get to pour it in the right spot.

Then, picking up the seeds gets that pincer grasp (between thumb and forefinger) going, and then sprinkling them onto the sponge just so uses the muscles again.

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Science: Clearly this is a science activity, but not really for the obvious reasons. Most people will think it is a science activity just because it is planting seeds. Yes, you are right it is science because of that. For this age though, the science is more about the process, feeling the materials (sponge, water, seeds) and then observing what happens.

Also think about the simplicity of pouring water over a dry sponge. The sponge starts hard, crunchy even, and pretty small. With the addition of water it completely changes. It gets soft, squishy, and grows. To me, water and sponges is actually an activity in itself. So, capitalize on having fun with that part of the activity and talking about the changes that are happening.

Happy Playing!

*I’ll try to update as our seeds change!

 

In the Kitchen: Kids Choice… Popsicles

If there is ever a chance for my kids to choose something to make in the kitchen… like this week… they will choose something with berries! They loooove berries. So, despite the unseasonably cold weather, they chose to make popsicles this week for our kids choice activity. They love them because like i said, they love berries. And I love them because our popsicles are pretty much just blended berries, water, and a teensy bit of honey. Super healthy and delicious!

Once I gathered all the equipment I called in my helpers. They took turns dropping the strawberries into the blender and then they each got to squeeze in a little honey.

Now you can blend it. It’s up to you and your little one how chunky or not chunky you want it. It seems like kids as a rule tend to like less chunky. Once you’ve got it to the desired consistency take a taste to make sure you’ve got it just how you want it. When it is good pour it into the molds (or paper cups), put the tops on (or popsicle sticks in), and set into the freezer. Let freeze for 1-2 hours or until frozen through and enjoy!

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IMG_0324The sky is the limit with these popsicles. You could do more kinds of fruit or a different fruit all together. You could puree the fruit and then fold into yogurt and freeze and have fruit and yogurt pops. I once heard of a dad who basically made a super healthy smoothie with fruit and kale and froze that as a popsicle! I think that’s a great idea too! So, if you want to keep it simple like us, you can. Or you can get creative and throw in all kinds of stuff!

Cooking activities are just the best to do with kids. I’ve never met a kid who didn’t get super excited to help in the kitchen! So it’s fun, that’s the most important part when doing things with toddlers and preschoolers! Then, there are almost always opportunities for fine muscle movement. In this case they are picking up strawberries, squeezing in honey, and think of the control it takes to hold onto a measuring cup to pour into the popsicle mold. I helped my son, but he still used a lot of his own control to pour in the mixture.

IMG_0326Making popsicles is also a chemistry experience. Isn’t that crazy!? Anytime you take a substance and change it’s properties, like baking or freezing you are doing science. Of course, we never expect toddlers to walk away from an activity stating to us scientific properties! It is more just a conversation about their popsicle. It could sound something like this, “Remember we mixed up the strawberries. Now look what happened! They are different now. They frozen and so cold! They are going to be a tasty treat to help us cool off after we play outside.”

Remember no matter what you are doing, the best addition you can make to an activity is talking, describing, and asking questions. Ideas are: point out the texture of the strawberry or the stickiness of the honey. Talk about what is happening while you blend it. Taste it and talk about what it tastes like. Pour it into the molds and explain why. Then when you set them into the freezer, give a simple explanation of what is going to happen. It doesn’t need to be formal, or teacher-y, just a simple conversation while you work together. Most of all, just have fun together!

Happy Playing!

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Spring Week 13: Spring Favorites

 At the end of each season I always like to wrap up with some of our favorites or some of the big activities that we maybe weren’t able to do originally. Here are the activities we are doing this week… you pick your favorites or some of the ones that you missed throughout Spring!

Spring Week 13 May 28-June 1: Spring Favorites

Week 13

At Real. Meaningful. Family. my goal is to provide information based on research for parents and caregivers, and to create regular opportunity for you to have special together time with your child. Toddlers and preschoolers learn from the environment and daily interactions. We are in no way seeking to create a school-like setting for your young child. Research has clearly indicated that academic learning (think reading, writing, and arithmetic) for these young children is not developmentally appropriate, learning for this age is in the every day details. The activities below have been created as a time to set aside specifically for parents and care givers to have a fun interaction with their children. I would recommend you first prioritize time to read, snuggle, dance, sing, move, rhyme, play, and then add these activities in as you can. Don’t stress… keep it simple, and just be together!
“The work will wait while you show your child the rainbow. But the rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.” -Erik Erikson

Art

Golf Ball Paint

IMG_1671This will be a fun, abstract piece of art for your child to enjoy! Lay construction paper in a container about the size of the paper. Then, let them choose paints they want to use and squirt blobs onto the paper. Drop in one or two golf balls and let your child roll the balls around in the container. This is a nice activity to combine some fine motor movements, some large motor movements, and the stimulation of colors moving and mixing. They can also have total control of what they are doing and be proud of their final product.

Stuff to Have

Construction paper

Paint

Golf balls

Plastic container, large enough to lay construction paper flat

Developing Skills

Fine motor, colors, art

Fine Motor

Button Flower

IMG_1468Lay out buttons and pipe cleaners. Demonstrate to children how the pipe cleaner can go through the button-holes. Let your child try to put pipe cleaners through the button-holes and make a button “flower.” If it starts to get frustrating for your child help them out. The point is to have fun and try something new. If you do help, try to find the balance between letting them experiment, and assisting them.

Stuff to Have

Buttons- various shapes, sizes, and colors

Pipe cleaners

Developing Skills

Fine motor, colors

Early Science & Math

Seeds on a Sponge

This is something I did ages ago when I was a lead teacher of one year olds. We had a lot of fun! Start by letting your child wet the sponge, more than just a little wet, but not dripping and place the sponge in a plastic container (or we used cute miniature pots). Then, they can sprinkle on the grass seed with a plastic spoon or small cup, just until it is covered with a layer of seeds. Place the seeds in an area where they will get sunlight and check daily to make sure the sponge stays moist as well as to see if the grass is making any progress. This activity is great because it continues over time! Talk about what you see changing and happening, what the grass looks like, what color it is, etc.

Stuff to Have

Sponge

Grass seed

Container to fit sponge into

Developing Skills

Science, observation

Cooking & Baking

Dirt Cake & Worms

With lots of supervision and helping hands, this is a kid activity that they can be very involved with. Let your child dump in the pudding mix, and the 2 c milk (insert helping hands here for sure!). Then, they can whisk it together until it is smooth. Let the pudding sit for 5 minutes. This would be a good time to put the chocolate cookies into a gallon bag and let your child crush them with a heavy spoon or other semi-heavy object. Next, mix in cool whip with the pudding. Then, add about a half-cup of the crushed chocolate cookies into the pudding mixture. Now, place the pudding mixture into individual cups or bowls (approx. 10), or into a larger bowl or container. Put the rest of the chocolate cookies on top of the pudding and refrigerate for 1 hour. Top with gummy worms and enjoy this Spring treat!

Stuff to Have

1-3.9oz package instant chocolate pudding

2 c milk

Cool whip

15 chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed

Gummy worms

Developing Skills

Cooking and baking, fine motor

Happy Playing!

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Spring Week 12

Spring Week 12: May 22-26

Week 12

At Real. Meaningful. Family. my goal is to provide information based on research for parents and caregivers, and to create regular opportunity for you to have special together time with your child. Toddlers and preschoolers learn from the environment and daily interactions. We are in no way seeking to create a school-like setting for your young child. Research has clearly indicated that academic learning (think reading, writing, and arithmetic) for these young children is not developmentally appropriate, learning for this age is in the every day details. The activities below have been created as a time to set aside specifically for parents and care givers to have a fun interaction with their children. I would recommend you first prioritize time to read, snuggle, dance, sing, move, rhyme, play, and then add these activities in as you can. Don’t stress… keep it simple, and just be together!
“The work will wait while you show your child the rainbow. But the rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.” -Erik Erikson

Art

Paint the Sidewalk

It’s always nice to combine activities that are traditionally done indoor, with the outside. This is a painting activity that will combine large muscle movements and the creativity of your child. There is not a lot of structure to this painting activity, just fun to be had with the freedom of painting on the sidewalk.

Stuff to Have

Sidewalk paint, homemade or purchased

Paintbrushes

Developing Skills

Art, large movement, colors

Fine Motor

Egg Sort

IMG_5692How about an absolute, zero prep activity that the kids will love!?! These Easter eggs are a great fine motor sorting activity. As simple as it sounds, my kids have always loved doing this. It’s so simple, I really don’t even need to provide instructions, other than… play along, demonstrate, maybe match by color maybe you don’t, and help out with younger children to keep from getting frustrated.

Stuff to Have

Plastic Easter Eggs

Developing Skills

Fine motor, math (sorting), problem solving

Early Science & Math

Nature Walk

IMG_1467Things have changed a lot outside since we last did this in week 3! Spring and Fall are the best seasons to go on frequent nature walks and check out the changing scenery and temperature! Talk about what has changed. What flowers are there now that weren’t? How tall are they? What color are they? Are the trees different? Bigger? Greener? What are the leaves like? Are they the same or different than another tree? What are the birds doing? Are there any nests to check out? What is the temperature like? Your child will naturally explore things that are interesting to them. Picking up rocks, feeling the grass (or not if they don’t like it like my kids early on!), checking out flowers and plants at their level. And then it’s our job to capitalize and talk about what we see, and what they are interested in.

Developing Skills

Early science, observation, large motor

Cooking & Baking

Free

Toward the end of each Season I like to leave a cooking and baking activity open for you to make something you enjoy with your child. What’s a favorite springtime food or treat you grew up making, or would like to make a tradition for your family?

Whatever you choose find things like dumping, stirring, rolling, patting, squishing, crunching, etc. for your child to do and participate as much as possible. This will be one of their favorite things to do with you!

Happy Playing!

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