Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Playing to Learn

I have to admit, I'm new to homeschooling toddlers. Back in the day, I homeschooled our now 24 year old from 5th grade through 8th. That four years was filled with structure and many activities including Science Olympiad, plays at the local theater, and a myriad of sports. We used the Seton curriculum and I loved it for it's concise methodology. Our day began with 7:00 a.m. Mass, where Mark served every day, and lasted until early afternoon - depending on his motivation that day. Mark has ADD, so I had to build in plenty of 'change ups' in order for him to be able to focus. Do religion - empty the trash, work on history - shoot a few hoops. He wasn't like our other children who would sit for long periods of time, nose to the grindstone, and get work completed all in one long session.

Although there are similarities in an ADD child and toddlers, the older child came equipped with a developed  skill of handwriting and other previously learned lessons. With young children, they really are a clean slate. I don't necessarily have to 'unteach' anything yet there is a lot of prep work for later learning. While this set of kids is well versed in the basics - colors, shapes, letters and starting sounds, numbers and simple math, their fine motor skills are very primitive at this point. I've done different things to help them with this - for example, Clean Finger Painting and working with sorting small colored pebbles. It's been encouraging to hear suggestions from mothers of toddlers in my Facebook Homeschool group and to use ideas gleaned from blogs and Pinterest. All in all, I'm quite pleased with the past two weeks.

The aforementioned play breaks can be a continuation of learning, however, and I have found that we all enjoy new approaches. Today, I decided to give another Pinterest idea a try. I made an indoor badminton game using paper plates, paint stirrers, and balloons. They learned sharing, team work, and hand-eye coordination. I was quite surprised at how well the two-year-old did! Here's what I did:

2 large paper plates
2 wooden paint stirrers
1 balloon

Center paper plate over wooden stick, leaving enough sticking out one end to create the handle.
Staple securely into place on the paper plate side.
Blow up the balloons.


Give each child a 'racquet'
Instruct them to volley the balloon back and forth, trying not to allow it to touch the floor.
You can also give them each a balloon.
Another excercise is to tell them to balance the balloon on their racquet as they walk, without allowing it to float away. This will teach them balance and patience.

The resulting hours of fun will stimulate their imagination, help them expend lots of energy, and serves as a great incentive for neatly completed work.

Balloon and paper plate badminton.