There are A LOT of websites that give activity ideas for little ones, but my goal is to make teaching your little one such a natural part of your everyday routine….. and it helps to have some insight into the best teaching techniques.
Most parents who are “teaching” their little one spend more time “drilling” our kiddos (flash card style) than actually teaching them. This isn’t ALL bad and trust me, I am guilty of this at times!
We get very caught up in the idea that if our child has learned a skill (like letter naming) then we need to constantly ask them “What letter is this?” and then wait for their answer. Don’t get me wrong….this is a GOOD thing. You are helping your little one to recall the information repetitively for recognition and fluency’s sake! But I want to ADD that YOU still need to be reinforcing what your little one knows and not just leaving it up to them.
Here is my example of what I am trying to incorporate at home:
Sometimes when I am grocery shopping I see underlying learning opportunities in the products I buy (Alphabits, Fruit Loops for sorting or patterning, Familiar Print, etc.). But when I was picking up a box of waffles, I saw the opportunity to reinforce teaching shapes by buying a box of circular shaped waffles AND a box of square shaped waffles.
Instead of asking Sean Patrick, “Do you want the waffle that is a square or a circle?” (because I know that he knows his shapes), I talk more about it more to reinforce his familiarity with the shape vocabulary and help him make connections. “LooK! This waffle is shaped like a circle!” I said this as I held up a strawberry Eggo waffle. “It goes round and round and round like the wheels on the bus!” (I made it turn in circles just so that he would make a connection of another circular-shaped object) “And this waffle” (holding up the cinnamon toast waffle) “is shaped like a square. It has FOUR sides. One, two, three, four like a square on the floor!” Then I bent down and traced my finger on the outline of the square counting the sides. “Do you want the circle waffle? or the square waffle?”
He chose the “circle!” and he proceeded to tell me about it while he ate “I bite a circle. I bite a round and round” haha – I think he gets it.
Ignore the fact that his diaper is coming apart at the moment, we need to move into pull-ups because of all the “false alarms” that come with potty training. He cracks me up!
My husband didn’t eat many “Sugar cereals” (as he calls them) when he was a kid. I, on the other hand, ate cinnamon toast crunch, reese’s puffs, fruit loops, and all the tasty stuff on the cereal aisle. So when I brought home “Fruity Cheerios” the other day my husband had a skeptical look on his face when he said “these taste like fruit loops.” So I respond, “Yeah, they’re great right?” And he responded with a comment about it being a sugar cereal, but I disagreed and I still claim that its Cheerios so it can’t be that bad for you.
Anyway, all that to say, in my Kindergarten class I LOVED to graph colorful snacks like fruit loops, gummy bears, colorful goldfish, etc.
So, I made a graph for you so that you can graph your colorful snack, whatever it may be, at home!
All you will do is ask your child to take their serving of their snack and see if they can sort the colors into the right columns that line up above the color name. Then, when all the pieces are in place, you can ask your little one some of the following questions…. but some of them might be inappropriate for their level of understanding “number sense” – so dont push it:
– Which color of your snack did you have the most of? How many are there of that color?
– Which color of your snack did you have the least (or the smallest amount) of?
– Were there any colors that had the same/equal amount of that color snack?
– Which colors have more than 5? Less than 10?
The point is to teach your little one how to use and analyze a graph. This is a learning experience for YOU and your little one. You should feel proud of yourself for attempting this because you are introducing your little one to an activity that causes him/her to use higher order thinking skills to navigate his way around this visual data chart that he assembled….pretty advanced for such a young mind huh?