Teaching a Toddler – Colours

Well August has been a terrible month for us. We have been sick with an awful cold that neither of us could seem to get over and a growing boy who is testing every fiber of my patience and the boundaries we have given him. For a kid who is only 18 months old he sure is acting like he has joined the ‘terrible two’s’ already.

Needless to say all my usual planning, prep work and routine has gone out the window and has been replaced with a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants attitude and way to many grumpy days. Although to be honest most of the grumpiness has been from me and not Mr B, oh whom I kidding, all the grumpiness has been from me 😦

Anyhoo, spring has sprung down here in Australia and I’m determined to get over my grumps and move on.

We did get round to doing some afternoon activities. Our theme this month was all about colour, which was great cause everywhere you go you see colour. So every outing was a chance to reinforce what we were learning at home. Throughout each activity I pretty much just let my son do whatever he wanted and while he worked/played I would talk about the colours and what he was doing. Most of the activities were about fun and playing rather than about dedicated learning 🙂

Monday: Colour Wheel

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This was pretty easy to make. I took some plain paper and divided it into 8, then took some colour markers and coloured in the triangles. I then cut smaller triangles out of the scraps, coloured them in with the same colours and attached them to pegs with some tape. Since these activities only get used a couple of times they really don’t have to be very fancy or long-lasting. He loved this, but I think that may be more due to the fun of putting pegs on paper that the matching colours together.

Tuesday: Bicarb and Vinegar (OUTSIDE!)

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This activity speaks for itself and was lots of fun. We’ve done something like this before but it never gets old 🙂 All you need to do is add some food colouring to some vinegar and mix it with bicarb of soda then stand back and watch…or in my son’s case, get messy. I should warn you to put on crappy clothes as the stupid food colouring stained everything, which I knew would happen but I wasn’t prepared for him to literally sit in the middle of the path and then pour vinegar all overs his legs.

Wednesday: Colour paper tubes

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I took 5 pieces of coloured paper and tore them in half. One half I rolled into small tubes and just taped them closed while the other half I tore into 3 more pieces and scrunched them up into little balls. I then taped the tubes to our pantry door and placed all the little scrunched up pieces of paper into a small basket. We had lots of fun talking about the colours and placing the right colours into the tubes. I’m not sure Mr B understood that the colour of the tubes is what I was referring too as he still can’t identify colours but he can say all the right words, so we are half way there 🙂

Thursday: Matching sets.

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This is really easy to play and lots of fun, I walked around the house picking up different coloured items and putting them into his basket. Then I set out some butchers paper (seriously invest in some if you haven’t got any yet) and picked out items from the basket and asked him to match them to a colour. This really didn’t work at first but I think he got the concept by the last week although I wasn’t expecting him to get them all right at all. If you do this activity make sure you choose items that are predominantly that colour otherwise your kid might not get what you are asking of them.

Friday: Drawing

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Drawing is pretty new to us, even though I have exposed Mr B lots of times, he still hasn’t got the hang of it. I do all my prep work while he has his afternoon nap, that way I can put away other toys and it’s all ready for him. I drew small squares in different mediums (markers, crayons and pencil crayons) and gave him markers to try to match the colours. It was really fun and he loved scribbling everywhere, we have tons of sheets of butchers paper which I just stick to our coffee table with some tape so it doesn’t move while he is drawing.

Reading:

Reading is really important to me and my husband so we want to nurture a love of books in our children right from the start. When our son was first born my husband would read to him every night and we have kept that up ever since.

During the month we include books to our reading time with the theme we are doing at the time. Our local library is great when it comes to finding fun educational books however they are mostly for older kids and have a minimal range for young kids which is disappointing. But we love to challenge Mr B so we’ve introduced books that require him to sit still just a little longer and try to concentrate a little more, which are just a bit above his level. This means we’ve done a mix of difficult library and easy home books this month so he didn’t get frustrated with reading time.

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Teaching a Toddler

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Teaching a Toddler

So recently I’ve been inspired by some great teachers turned moms to be a bit more proactive with what I’m teaching Billy.
Once he hit toddler-hood I never really felt like I was doing enough when it came to teaching him even the simplest things like animal names or colours etc.

I started small by creating ‘invitations to play’. These were basically little scenes I would set up each night using the toys we already have. Mostly these were just things like a little farm or the train set and I would build the same little scene every night or whenever I was doing a little cleaning up. It helped me make sure I was rotating our toys regularly and keeping him interested in his toys.

Now that he has turned 15 months I have decided to up my game a bit and do more structured games/lessons. He is way to young to do anything for longer than 10 minutes, so I have kept the activities really simple and most importantly if he isn’t interested or doesn’t ‘get it’ I don’t push him or try force the game. Mostly I have to try to remember that this is not about me and my need to control every situation (I’m a way to much of an A type personality). The other thing I keep in mind when is that at this age repetition is key, so we reuse, redo and recycle most of our activities.

I have chosen to do a different theme every month. Not really for any other reason but the fact that it gives me a guideline so I can think up ideas, activities and outings.

Personally I like routine, I enjoy planning and packing what we will need the night before and that feeling of being on top of my day before it’s even started. If I forget or don’t do it for a few weeks I can see the difference in how I react to situations and how I feel a bit overwhelmed and seem to be a bit more short-tempered with everyone.
I try to menu plan every Sunday night so it’s pretty easy to know which snacks I’m going to pack and what we will be having for breakfast. Our day can start anywhere from 5:30 -7 am, although 7am wake up is very rare, we then have breakfast and have a play with whatever I set up the night before. Pretty much everyday we try to spend the morning out of the house, we are part of a few playgroups in our area and we meet up with some amazing other mommy friends that we’ve made. If we have nothing planned we might just head down to the part of go into town for a coffee. By about 12:00 we are home having a small lunch and heading to bed for an afternoon nap. I’ve been really lucky with how we do naps and B pretty much always sleeps for 2 hours (on really busy days it can be 3 hours). When he gets up from his naps we cuddle on the couch for about 15-30 min either watching ABC2 or just sitting together quietly while B wakes up fully. Then it’s on to our activities (which I don’t put any time limit/expectations on) and after that I start on dinner or if that’s all prepared already I might do some work while B plays independently. We generally have dinner at 6pm and its straight off to bath and bed afterwards which usually means B is in bed no later than 7:30.

This routine works for us and I try to be really flexible with it, it may not work for you or your child. Before he was 1 yrs we never really had a set routine I would always just take the days as they came or see how we felt. Some days I can tell we should just be having a day at home or he may be having so much fun in the back yard that we don’t end up going anywhere or doing anything else. But now that he is a bit older I have noticed that routine seems to suit him much better and he naturally fell into eating and sleeping at the same times everyday so I worked this out around him rather than try to change what he was already doing to suit me.

My never ending story

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I found this pic on Facebook recently and it really rang true for me. When I was expecting and planning for our beautiful bundle of joy I imagined teaching him to sit/talk, doing crafts with him, watching him grow and learn new things and basically knowing by instinct what being a mom is all about.
What I wasn’t expecting was the monotony, the same routine day in and day out, the large amount of nappies I would be changing and washing, the forever feeling of tiredness and mostly the cleaning/washing that builds up and then finally gets done only for it to take a few hours to be at a some what critical level again.
Now please don’t get me wrong I love this little man and am enjoying all his milestones and it was me who chose to use cloth nappies and homemade wipes. But dammit I feel like a stuck record lately… Walking round the house thinking “didn’t I just do this yesterday, or was it last week?”

It’s frustrating and annoying. I love being busy and I always thought when I had children I could keep up with my own fun activities (I am a baking, crafting, sewing, creative loving wannabe) and still be a fun, cool kid focused mom. By alas so far that has not wrung true for me at all. I find my days merging into one another and by the time the weekend rolls in I can’t believe a week has passed me by and I haven’t done any of the things i wanted too or even left the house (I am ashamed to say sometimes I haven’t even changed the track suit pants I have been wearing all week… Baby boy is just gonna throw up/pee on the clean pair anyway!)

The saddest part of this monotony is I sometimes don’t feel like I spend enough time teaching Billy what he needs to know to progress, learn and develop as he should. I feel guilty almost everyday that maybe I should have spent more time talking to him or doing tummy time… I blame the internet for this, there are so many articles and advice on what you should do to give your baby/kids the best start they can have and now I compare myself to all those creative, perfect mums who think up all these cool things and do so many wonderful things with their kids! I kick myself and then try do some interacting with him but don’t know what I am doing so feel stupid and inadequate, I then put him to sleep and look round my house and kick myself for not using my time better and cleaning/cooking/fixing.

So does my never ending story end? Who knows, but hopefully as our babies become toddlers and our toddlers become children I can at least add a few more variations to the days and build on my knowledge! I guess that’s the best I can do for now 🙂