By: Mona Ismaeil
Children are sponges, sucking up all the world has to offer. They are always learning. Even when you least expect, they are learning. They are learning about relationships, about themselves, about you, and about the world around them. Children learn in many different ways. Everyone has heard about the different learners and surely you know how you learn best but do you know how your child learns? Most children don’t fall into one single style of learning until they are school aged. Even then, they could have multiple learning styles. At least, it is harder to pinpoint it until then. One learning style that all children have in common is through experiences, and authentic play. Children learn so much through play. It may not look like it, but it’s true.
Here are some fun activities you can do with your child to help them learn different skills and concepts without them realizing they are learning! It’s like slipping veggies into their meals without them noticing! Ssshhhhhhhhhhh, it’ll be our little secret!
Alphabet: Letter animals
This is a tried and tested activity. If it was up to my daughter she would do a letter every day! For this activity you turn the letters into animals, or objects that start with that letter. It’s a fun hands-on activity which gets their creative juices flowing. Depending on the age of your child, you will do the majority of the cutting and such but toddlers are great at choosing what color construction paper to use and they are great at gluing!
Another idea is to put a number of items in a bag. Some that start with a specific letter and some that don’t. Have your child put their hand in the bag and pull out a mystery item. They then tell you if it starts with the letter you are working on that day. If it does, great! If not, discuss which letter it does start with. For example. If you are working on the letter “S”. In the bag of mystery items you may put a sock, straw, star, spoon, teddy bear, blocks, paint brush, etc.
Numbers: Musical Numbers
I try to keep my activities fairly simple so that we can focus on the concept. To practice numbers, I made these very simple number cards. They are so simple that you can use them for pretty much anything and everything! One way to use these cards will get your little one moving, dancing and learning. What a great combo!
- Number your cards. Go up as high as your child knows and perhaps a couple numbers higher. This will challenge them a little.
- Choose a fabulous song they would love to move to. I like “Happy” by Pharell Williams (The minions version)
- Scatter the cards on the ground in random order.
- There are a couple ways to play:
- Play the music and have them dance and jump from number to number. When you stop the music they go to the nearest number, and identify that number. You can then have them count to that number.
- Play “I Spy”. You tell them the number, then they have to find it. After that have them do an action for that number. Example, “I spy number 5”. Then do 5 jumping jacks. Or 7 wiggles. Or give me 1 hug, etc.
- Clean up by counting and putting the numbers in order or count backwards and clean them up.
The Environment: Scavenger Hunts
I tried this for the first time in Mid-March and my daughter just loved it! I searched on Pintrest for “Winter Scavenger Hunts”. I found a simple one for her age. There are many options to choose from and you can do one for every season. I read over it with her so she would have an idea of what she was looking for, gave her a clip board and off we went. She was excited right from the start. She would stop me to point out things on her list. It was a great opportunity for us to talk about the changing seasons, animals, trees, and for us to get out to enjoy the sun together.
We like to get a bit messy in our house and painting is an essential activity for us. I came across this fun painting activity while searching for an activity to learn about animals. I love it because it gives you the chance to get messy but also to discuss what the animals look like. You can discuss the difference between hair and fur. Talk about paws, claws and feet. You can discuss where the animals live, what they eat and so much more. The possibilities are endless!
“Monkey see, monkey do”. This couldn’t be truer for children. Make-believe and playing pretend are a fantastic way for children to learn about life and day to day activities. If you really watch your child play make believe, you’d be surprised at how they mimic you. They may pretend to be a mom the dolls are their babies. They may pretend to be the teacher and line their teddy bears up like their students. They may even give a poor little teddy bear a time out. Sit down for a cup of invisible tea and cookies and talk to your child about nutrition. Be a patient in your child’s medical clinic and talk to them about the body and how it functions. Allow your inner child to be set free for a bit!
What activities do you love to do with your toddler? What works best for them? Share your tips and tricks.
About the Author
Mona Ismaeil: Mona Ismaeil is the Associate Editor Muslimmoms.ca. She is also an elementary teacher turned blogger and writer. Mona is the proud owner of Modern Hejab and stay-at-home mom to a sweet little girl. She loves to travel and see all the world has to offer with her family.