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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

10 Ways to Teach Toddlers and Preschoolers

Today's guest post is by Christin from Journey To A Gracious Woman. Christin is a wife and a mother of four. Her desire is to strive toward being that virtuous woman, that gracious woman. She is learning much about how to become her, and it’s through Jesus alone.

(Christin's post works for me!)

10 Ways to Teach Toddlers and Preschoolers

As a homeschooling mom, I have struggled with finding ways to keep Mr. Faithful (2) and Mr. Patient (3.5) engaged in something while working with Miss Joy, who is 6. Over the last several weeks, I have researched and tried different things to, not only keep them busy and content, but to teach them as well!

Sometimes we tend to forget that simple is best! We have somehow come to believe that if it didn't take hours and much effort to pull together and plan, that it's not worth it or it's not going to work. Not true! I have found 10 ways to teach toddlers and/or preschoolers with a variance of independence and working with mom. Keep in mind different children will learn with different styles. Feel free to conform anything to suit the needs and best learning style for your child.

  1. Puzzles- many children love puzzles. The possibilities are endless! There are wooden puzzles, cardboard puzzles, letter puzzles (see picture below). Puzzles will vary depending on the stage of your child. These can be done independently or together. My 3-year sometimes wants me to just sit and watch him put one together!

  2. Felt Fun - You can easily create a felt board (or just use your couch!). Cut out shapes from felt, different sizes and different colors and let your child create! Add a few strings of yarn in for use on a kite! Round off some rectangles to make leaves. Round off some small triangles to make flower petals; only the longer points. This is another activity which can be done together or independant. My children prefer to create on their own with this, but will show me each of their masterpieces as they finish them!

  3. Story Time - This is an activity that is usually done together. Some book suggestions include: Owl Babies by Martin Waddel, The Real Mother Goose, Dr. Suess' ABC's (and other favorites by Dr. Suess, Eric Carle Books, Bill Martin Books. Many books are not required. Often times, toddlers and preschoolers enjoy having the same book read to them over and over. We went through a 6-week period that we read Owl Babies to my three year old 2-4 times per day! The other children joined in on it because we made fun out of it by overacting it out. The kids really enjoyed that! Don't under estimate the power of reading to your child. This is very important for language development and later, reading skills. Reading is the foundation and "building blocks" of learning. If our children do not have a rich and strong start in reading, they could struggle all the way through school, because they find comprehension difficult in areas like science, history, and literature, thus missing all the aspects of learning these things.

  4. Drawing/Scribbling- Hand your toddler and/or preschooler a clean sheet of white paper and a simple pencil or crayon and let them at it! Often, in the morning hours, the children will sit at the table and simply draw to their hearts delight! This can go on for an hour or two! These are very important pre-writing skills. Toddlers usually don't hold attention for that long, so once your toddler tires of drawing, offer him/her a new activity or allow them to play independently with a toy they enjoy

  5. Beads- If you have large beads, you can allow your littles to string beads. This is excellent for fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. This is something that has kept my boys busy for a good period of time. Not only can they string them, they can sort them, learn colors, and dump/pour from one cup to another.

  6. Lacing Pals - Another wonderful way to work those fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination is to let them lace with lacing pals (or other lacing items). My 3-year old, as creative as he is, learned how to lace (or sew) two of them together all on his own.

  7. Music and Movement: This is a great way to get some exercise and memory work done. You can choose songs that teach things like ABC's and rhymes, or you can simply put on upbeat praise music and let them Praise the Lord! It's great to get our children praising the Lord at an early age.

  8. Coloring Books: Ok, there was a time when I was actually slightly against coloring books (ever heard of the "Anti-Coloring Book series"?) Then I got to thinking. I don't think they are all that bad. I think they are an excellent way to learn fine motor control. After all, in order to stay in the lines, children must control where their crayon stops and goes. Give your child a coloring book of their favorite character, and it will keep them happy for a spell!

  9. Stickers - My preschooler especially loves stickers. He may not be the most economical with them...using an entire sheet in one sitting and just sticking them all on a piece of paper in no particular order. But, again, he is exercising those lovely fine motor skills, which pave the way to writing and forming letters. It also allows for his own creativity.

  10. Blocks - Good 'ol fashion building blocks; wooden, plastic, mega blocks and so forth. Toddlers and preschoolers LOVE to build with blocks. It allows their imagination to flow freely and they can build something new every time.

Everything mentioned in this list teaches our children something. It helps their development, whether physical, spiritual, imaginative, or intellectual. We do not have to put something together that is time consuming and more "structured" in order for our children to learn. Often, the best learning comes from the simple things. We can give our children a little and they will do the rest.

Hop on over to Christin's blog and give her some love!

Side note - I'm posting my article, Are You Pure? over at Is This Modest today!


Denise @ Sunflowers, Chocolate and Little Boys said...

Great ideas Christin....thanks!

Friend Chick said...

These suggestions look great! A few I already do, but I think I'm ready to invest in those large beads. Thanks, Christin!

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

Good ideas!

Pajama Mama said...

her top ten sum up our days...puzzles after breakfast, etc...she even included the lacing toys...i think we could be sisters or something!

Lindsey said...

These are excellent, and as an early childhood professional I can honestly say that these are good tips!

Wani said...

Great tips!

Isabel said...

My kids love all these things! Another all time faviorite is play dough.

Meshellyn said...

Thanks for the idea on the felt board! That is so easy and really not very expensive! I'll have to see what I can come up with and am sure my daughter would enjoy playing with it in the coming years!

Ashley said...

My almost 2 yo loves doing all of these things and she also loves to paint and play with playdough. She's gotten big into helping to "clean" and do chores too!

Jenni said...

I have a website I love it is called MothersRuleofLife.com and on it is this list of activites for little ones, some duplicates because Christin's are great (love the felt board) and some others.

christinnjon said...

Thanks everyone for your kind comments! I'll be sure to check out that site Jenni!

Trishamoongirl said...

Thanks so much- it made me feel good about what I am having my kids and ones in my care do already, great encouragement!

Marci said...

Very timely post for me - thanks! We are going to homeschool our daughter next year (she will be in the 3rd grade). This week I have been researching and "interviewing" my friends who homeschool on curriculum and schedules, but another important concern I had was what to do with my 4 year old while we do school. Thanks for the great tips!

Toni said...

great ideas your right simpler is better. We also use beans and cups the scoop and puring activity can last a long time. Also I have made an indoor 'sandbox' with cornmeal and put toys in it to dig out or just given them some spoons and cups or other things to scoop and out.