Monday, May 9, 2011

Moms Who Teach Mondays

Hello! I am happy to have the opportunity to share some of my favorite ideas. Before I had my little ones, I taught school and tutored little ones in reading and math. I am loving being apart of the process of learning and growing that my own little ones are going through. Kate and Julie are the best. I was lucky enough to meet them during our college years and I knew right off that they were choice ladies! Great students, teachers and now Mothers! I think this blog is a grand idea and I am happy to contribute. 

I had so many things I wanted to share... I narrowed it down to just two little tidbits... toys and a creative learning space.

Toys... oh toys. I have so many thoughts on toys. First, the bright plastic, fancy toys are super fun, but they are also really big, and take up a lot of space, and are not mother nature friendly. My kids seem to love them at first, but they seem to loose their glossy appeal pretty quickly. As a Mom I really try to limit the plastic intake in our home, because if you aren't careful it seems like you can have a house full of plastic. So- enter playing and learning with household items.

1. Coin Jar- Eliza (2.5 yrs) loves to sort coins at the table.
We put a bowl for each different coin on the table, a quarter, dime, nickel, and penny, and she sorts. She loves to sort (what kids doesn't) and it's such an important skill to learn for reading and math. It's a treat that happens when I am in the kitchen, usually preparing dinner. It's engaging, educational and easy to initiate! (This is a table only activity at our house. Due to baby brother crawling around the floor and I have found it is much easier to clean up.)

2. Put the Lid in the slot/sort- William (9months) and Eliza love this activity. I saved frozen juice lids and an old fashioned oat  container. We then cut a slot in the top and voila- one our favorite learning toys. (We have fancy shape sorter as well- the kids love this so much more.)  The kids just fit the lids through the slot. It is good for William because he is working on fine motor skills, like moving his wrists side to side and the pincer grasp. When we first starting this activity he would lay the lids flat on top of the oatmeal lid, but as time has gone by he has learned to turn his little wrist and slid the lid in. This is great practice for him! Eliza loves it, and to stretch her a bit, we count the lids as we drop them in, or we time her to see how fast she can do it, or (hardest level :)) we take turns putting them in. This requires tons of patience for Eliza, because she has to wait for William- and he is slowl, but they both get so excited when he finally does it, it takes a lot of patience for all of us, but seeing Eliza cheer for William - it is worth it.

 Creating a child sized place to eat, learn, play and explore art.
 I am big into art with Eliza. We do art everyday. Usually Monday-Friday I plan something simple to do. The creative aspect is an outlet for her. She is so engaged while creating. It is beyond simple for me to implement and the confidence and engagement from Eliza is rewarding for all involved. I have learned to trust her with supplies and she totally steps it up and does a great job.

Since Eliza was 18 months old we have had a little table and chairs in our kitchen. It is her space to create. She loves to sit there! She loves to have snacks at her little table! It is her space. Above her table I have a nursery rhyme poster framed and a space to hang her art work.  To one side I have a hook with a few aprons she gets when she needs one. To the other side is a rolling cart we use for extra kitchen storage, but on one shelf is Eliza's stuff, a supply of art stuff all ready to go and organized for her use when she wants. I have crayons, paper, homemade salt dough, tools, mat, etc. She loves the freedom this gives her, she loves getting out her dough and playing all by herself, and she loves putting it away (huge surprise here!).

She loves to have her work shown and really feels proud when we hang her art. Simple art projects we do at the table: water colors, finger painting, homemade salt dough, cutting and pasting, gluing shapes, letters, buttons, beans, and more to paper. Our best and most inexpensive canvases for painting have been paper plates and coffee filters. I save a lot of her projects, but I also use it as stationary to write birthday and thank you cards to friends and family.

The thing that keeps these activities running smoothly is teaching and  learning procedures first. We go over our routines for this space many times before I let her loose. For example, we pretend to get out the paints, pretend to paint, pretend to clean up and this helps her have confidence and know what to do when we do it, and  also most importantly gives her autonomy.

Oh my goodness this is getting long. I have many other things I wanted to share like the importance of teaching nursery rhymes and ideas how to teach them, more homemade toys, music integration, word of the week, color of the week, letter of the week, and don't even get my started on literature! You would be here all day. Thanks for letting me contribute! 
No thank you Sarah! As Sarah mentioned we have a lot of history with this amazing teacher now turned mommy. We can't wait to try this out on our little ones!
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{Please note: you do not need to be an educator or past educator to contribute...just a mommy :)} 


Tyler and Emily said...

WOW! So fun to read this. I can't wait to try some of these fun and simple teaching ideas. Thank you!

Kate Pettit said...

Seriously...amazing, darling ideas! Thanks Sarah for taking the time to write this up. I can't wait to use these great ideas. You are the best!

maddie said...

such great advice! thanks for making us better moms, sarah :)