We involve Carter when we are cooking and although it can get quite messy, he loves it and it’s been great for his language development. We make smoothies everyday, banana pancakes are a weekend tradition with Daddy and he loves making muffins with Grandpa when he comes to visit. When Grandma bought him his own food set and pots and pans this week and Carter started ‘cooking’ I noticed just how beneficial those cooking experiences have been for him. He has been introduced to a variety of vocabulary along the way and having his own set has allowed him to use his imagination and prior experiences to create his own play scenarios.
We have since created a menu and Carter uses this when he invites people into his cafe. You rarely get what you ordered and if he’s not happy with your choice he will recommend something different but he’s absolutely loving it and is using words such as ‘ingredients’ and ‘recipe’, naming different fruits and vegetables, and even experimenting with some mathematical concepts. Whilst cooking with us we talk him through the recipe and the quantities that are needed, so he is learning what 1 cup looks like as opposed to half a cup, he counts 3 eggs, he is looking at the different sizes of spoons (e.g 1 teaspoon of cinnamon/1 tablespoon of coconut oil) and he is beginning to verbalize this knowledge and use it in his own cafe.
Teaching developmental play in the first year of school is very important. Most Kinder programs are developed around structured play-alot of learning occurs during ‘play’ and in the first year of schooling us teachers always included lego as one of our play activities, so why not start at home?
Lego is a ‘hands on’ activity which means the child is in control of their learning- very often this is when the most valuable learning happens-through discovery. Not only does the child need to use problem solving skills but it increases their spatial awareness. Fine motor skills are developed as they pick up the pieces and manipulate them to learn which ones fit and their communication and oral language skills are required. It’s a great activity to do in a group situation as this also involves rules of play, encouraging sharing and will put their oral language skills to the test. Just find a great storage container for it all-those pieces of lego are easy to lose!!
Telling the time is a difficult concept to teach, often one of the hardest in the early years of schooling, so the sooner your child is familiar with clocks and telling the time, the better!
We introduced Carter to our wall clock when he was one, he loved watching the hands and looking at the numbers. We taught him that it was called a clock and over time we have revisited it and extended the teaching.
We are Peter Rabbit obsessed in this house so this book is a favourite.
When reading this book we focus on the ‘big hand on the 12 meaning o’clock’ and the ‘little hand pointing to the number to tell us which o’clock it is’. Repetition is the key and giving your child ownership over the activity. Let them try to move the little hand to the number or ask them to give you an o’clock time to make and as you make it verbalize your actions.
This book is a great one because it attaches a story to the learning and also provides children with a visual of the time they need to make. Plus it’s got a clock for the children to use-hands on learning is always best!
This one’s an easy one! To help your child learn the names of shapes, draw them using chalk and then practice jumping from one to another.
‘I’m going to jump from the circle to the square.’
‘Why don’t you jump to the rectangle?’
To assist with learning the names of shapes we also bought a shapes puzzle. Each shape had its name on the base and was colour coded, further helping him identify the properties of each shape.
Every time we visit the zoo or aquarium, Carter gets to hold the map. It’s never too early to teach children spatial awareness and using real life experiences engages them and increases their ability to understand the concept of what a map is and how it enhances our ability to get to a specific location.
The great thing about the zoo map is that it has pictures of the animals, so for toddlers you could simply get them to point and say the name of the animal they would like to see and as you are walking to it, you verbalize the learning. E.g We are walking straight ahead to the lions, lets check the signs-we need to turn left at the bridge etc.
Primary aged children:
As the child’s capabilities increase, so does the learning. You could start by pointing to the direction you need to go to and getting them to say if it is left or right and then build upon it by asking them to choose an animal and be the tour guide, taking you to each animal.
By giving the child the map and letting them take control it allows them to take ownership and develops their confidence about navigating the world around them.
Follow up activities:
- Design a map for your own zoo. (You could give them the freedom to include anything they want or you could tell them there needs to be 1 cafe, 2 toilets etc. You could discuss placement of the toilets-why they need to be in different sections of the zoo- and by doing so, incorporate some logical design thinking into the activity as well!)
- Keep the map and get it out at home, discussing what you saw with your child, the directions the different animals were in-get them using appropriate location vocabulary to increase their oral language skills. They are taught this in primary school so give them a head start and use it as part of your everyday language.
We started to teach Carter to identify the numbers 0-10 when he was about 8 months old.
There are so many ways you can do this. One of the best tools we used was a number puzzle. Every time he would pick up a number we would say it and repeat the name whilst he placed it in its spot on the puzzle. Once he’d placed all the numbers in the puzzle we would count them all. This puzzle was not only great for his number recognition but puzzles in general are a great tool to use to teach spatial awareness, patience, concentrarion and fine motor skills.
We then started counting EVERYTHING! Shells, rocks, pencils, toys, anything we could find. The key was repetition.
Now that Carter has memorized 0-10 we are starting to add on a couple of numbers at a time, taking him to 12, 13 etc.
The value of a number.
The next step is to teach him about number value. At the moment he has rote learnt how to count but he doesn’t really understand that these numbers have values. Eg: What does having 1 pencil mean? What does a collection of 5 shells look like? To teach this you can use any objects you like, and basically you make and sort different ‘groups of’ with your child. Show them what a collection of 4 buttons looks like and then get them to make their own collection of 4, using their finger to count and check. Getting them to count with their finger encourages 1-1 correspondence, a valuable tool when learning how to count.
The key is to include counting as part of your daily activities, and by continuing to repeat the number sequence, your child will begin to remember it.
You can incorporate incidental teaching during your everyday activities with your toddler.
We love going on a number hunt during our walks (or as carter likes to call it ‘number letterboxes’). As we are walking we stop at each letter box and as I point to the numbers, Carter tells me which one it is. At this stage he recognises single digit numbers, so for 15 he will tell us ‘1’ and ‘5’. It’s a great way to revise number recognition and get in some exercise at the same time!