A common question I receive in comments or via email from readers is how do I always seem to have activities to do with the kids, how do I find things to do, how do I keep them interested in these activities.
Honestly it has been a hit and miss adventure, only in last 2 years have I found a method to the madness.
Firstly, it is easy to become overwhelmed with all the activities and ideas that float around pinterest, facebook or google searches.
Secondly, it is hard to think of a term to search for when you really don’t know what you want to search for in the first place! Cloud dough? Yea, what’s that!?
Today I want to break down a few things that I have learned and impart some direction that I hope will help you out.
Look at what your kids love to do.
For example, my 7 year old is a huge LEGO fan, my 6 year old is interested in anything farm animal, my 4 year old loves cats and the 2 year old just wants to post everything into holes.
Have a list of things that they should be doing at the age group.
This will help you setup age appropriate play.
Sample learning ideas. These are purely academic readiness, other parts of a curriculum include social and emotional development, communication, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, variety of cultural and artistic expressions.
2 year old academic:
- recognition of numbers 1-10
- counting 1-10
- recognition of basic colors
- recognition of the 4 basic shapes: circle, square, rectangle, triangle
- introduction to letters and letter sounds
- recognition of first name in print
Notice how I say recognition? At age 2 kids should be playing like 90% of the time. Don’t force your child to learn these like a parrot. Include them casually in play. for example you could have wooden blocks with numbers on them. Stack them with the correct numbers and count as you go.
Source: Counting Caterpillar Busy Bag
3 year old academic:
- recognize and trace numbers 1-20
- counting skills 1-20
- understanding basic concepts such as size, quantity and numerical
- recognize basic colors
- recognize the four basic shapes
- introduction to letters and beginning sounds, letter / sound recognition and tracing upper and lower case
- recognize and trace name in print
4 year / pre-k academic:
- Phonetic reading readiness
- Math skills 1-50 ended with 1-100 by the end of the year
- Writing name / letters
- 10 Colors
- 6 Shapes
As you can see the academic aspect of providing your toddler / preschooler with good activities can get a bit overwhelming! My best advice is to plan out your activities and learning themes in advance. Even if you do it month by month.
Ok, so now you have what your child loves and what he needs to learn. It is time to do a search on pinterest / google! Put in “LEGO counting” and there you have a nice selection of counting activities! Put in “Farm animal alphabet” and there you have a nice selection of abc ideas!
What your child loves / interest + what they need to learn = an activity to do!
TIP: Remember you know your child best! Don’t over extend them on activities just because the list says they have to. Have fun learning. LEARN THOUGH PLAY!
Other important ideas for activities
- Art – Kids love to express themselves
- Playdough – great for fine motor and creativeness
- Puzzles – logic and problem solving
- Blocks – wooden, duplo or LEGO, building is fun and important!
- Coloring – fine motor skills and good for exercising those pencil / crayon grips.
- Sensory – help round out those sensory explorations by providing sensory bins!
- Books – read many books out aloud, ask questions and do activities based on the book.
Introduce new things to see if they have interest in it.
You never know what will tickle your childs fancy! Try something new once in awhile.
Let others give you ideas!
This one is a pretty good choice 😀 Follow a select few blogs that cover some of the topics you will need to cover with your toddler / preschooler. Subscribe to their newsletters and follow them on facebook.
Here is a break down of blogs to follow and what you can expect from them.
Powerful Mothering (that’s me!) – a wide range of ideas for toddlers and preschoolers. With 4 kids I cover many interests. So this blog would be a good general one to follow.
Mom Inspired Life – Has a lot of alphabet type ideas with some numbers and sight words. Her blog is perfect for the preschool ages.
Simple Fun for Kids – Has a toddler and a preschooler so you will also find a great mix of activities here.
School Time Snippets – Has a great tot school section as well as fine motor skills section.
Sugar Aunts – Is an occupational therapist with great sections on hand writing, scissor skills and fine motor skills.
Best Toys 4 Toddlers – Has a variety of ideas and is also a great one to follow of general crafts and activities.
Life of Cs – Has a stunning collection of printable activities!
Lemon Lime Adventures – Has a lot of sensory ideas as well as science experiments.
Little Bins for Little Hands – Has also got science experiments and many LEGO based ideas.
Do you struggle with doing activities?