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Some of the most appealing characteristics of toddlers are their eagerness to help and their ability to learn things quickly. Unfortunately, their short attention spans require lessons to be brief and entertaining, while holding their attention long enough to get your message across. Strategies to make lessons fun and entertaining are covered in these 100 blog posts.
Numbers and Math
It may not seem like a lesson, but you are teaching every time you count things while you and your child are out in the world. Count the apples as you put them in the bag or count the steps as you go into the library. Point out numbers on houses, buildings and signs so that your toddler starts to recognize numbers for what they are. Then, when it’s time for a brief lesson, you can play games or play with cereal. Simple math like sorting and matching can also give your toddler a head start. These 10 blogs will explain how you can incorporate these lessons into your day.
- Numbers Washing Line—Lessons Learnt Journal explains how you can work with a clothes line, number cards and clothes pins to teach your toddler his numbers.
- Counting and Make 10 with Egg Cartons—Learn with Play at Home has come up with a clever way to teach your toddler math while letting him play with egg cartons and pom poms.
- Cheerio Counting—Teaching-Tiny-Tots has free printables to help with this simple activity of putting cheerios into circles according to a designated number. These can be glued and hung up for reference if you like.
- Setting the Table—You can practice counting while you have your child help you set the table for a simple way to learn numbers, according to Toddler Activities at Home.
- Creative Number Recognition—Learn from My Fail successfully taught her son to recognize his numbers by creating a pathway of those numbers so that he could remember them.
- Number Patterns—Teaching Ideas has a bunch of printables to help you teach math and other number related lessons to your child.
- Play a Number Game—With a box, some bowls, a knife and some balls you have the supplies you need to create an entertaining way to teach your child number recognition, according to The Education of a Stay at Home Mom.
- Count Everything—Toddlers will love counting everything from steps to apples, so make sure that you are counting everything you can throughout the day, suggests Clever Toddler Activities.
- Sorting—One part of math is sorting, and this can be done with toys, balls or even plastic dishes according to Preschool-Learning-and-Crafts.
- Toddler Fish Pond—Put together this game to teach matching, sorting and number recognition with the directions found on Puddle Wonderful Learning.
If you haven’t been singing the ABC song to your toddler, now is the time to start. Once your child masters the song slow it down or stop and ask your toddler what letter comes next. Get magnetic letters and let your toddler play with them on a cookie sheet or the refrigerator. Show him how to spell his name. Start teaching letters by using the letters of his name, then go back and work on others. These 10 blogs will give you lesson ideas for working on letters with your toddler.
- Fridge Chart—Simple Homeschool points out that going over letters every morning over cereal will teach your child his letters and sounds.
- Letter Puzzles—According to Daily Mothering, working with the kids a little each day using letter puzzles and other letter toys helped her two year old start to read short words.
- Magnetic Letters—It’s Baby Time uses magnetic letters to teach letter recognition and form roots of words, as well as teach her daughter to add letters to make new words.
- Color-by-Letter—2 Teaching Mommies have free printables for each letter so that your child can color a picture of an object, like a pumpkin with the letter ‘P’ all over it.
- Letter of the Week Activities—Teach Preschool explains how each week she would put out paper, cut-out letters, glue and items to glue onto the letter that start with that same letter, like cotton balls on the letter C.
- Letter Tile—Bright Hub Education has a complete lesson plan that includes making a letter tile using finger paint, paper and pictures from magazines.
- Alphabet Cookie Cutters and Play Dough—Let your kids roll out dough, use alphabet letter cutters to cut out letters and say each letter as he cuts them, as seen on United Teaching.
- Mnemonics—Let the kids dance around and hold their arms up like a ‘Y’ and say, “Why can’t I remember this?” Other tips like this are available on Heidi Songs.
- Alphabet Cereal—Knoxville Parent indicates that a kinesthetic learner may learn his letters better if he uses alphabet cereal to move letters around and spell words.
- Alpha Matching—The Learning Hypothesis suggests having your child match magnetic letters with printed letters and putting them together on the back of a cookie sheet.
When you’re at the dollar store keep your eyes open for colorful things. Anything that your toddler can sort by color can be worked into a simple lesson. Pull out the crayons or paint and talk about colors. Start with the basic primary colors of red, yellow and blue, then move forward with other colors once those colors are learned. Mixing colors on paper will help your toddler understand that there is a relationship between colors. He won’t understand hue and saturation, but he may learn that red and yellow make orange. Use paints a lot in play to expose him to colors, and as he gets older you can talk about primary, secondary and tertiary colors. Kids are able to absorb more information than you may think. These 10 blogs will help you start at the beginning when teaching colors to your toddler.
- Color Matching—Teaching Mama uses a plastic tray from the dollar store and some pom poms to working on color matching.
- Color Flashcards—Munsell Color explains that sometimes it’s hard to get kids to understand that light blue and navy are both blue, and using flashcards can help some kids.
- Music and Colors—AppSaga has worked out a lesson where you play classical music while showing your child colors.
- Clothespin Colors—Yes, I Want Cake has a clever idea for using clothespins and cardstock to do matching exercises with your child.
- Hanging Felt Boards—Smart School House created hanging felt boards out of cardboard and felt and then cut out felt shapes in different colors to teach colors and shapes.
- Color Sorting—Teach Your Tot suggests getting a handful of colorful candy and helping your child sort the candy into color piles and then color ovals with the same colors.
- Colored Water Sensory Bin—Fun at Home with Kids suggests mixing up a tub full of colored water with googly eyes and letting the kids scoop and pour them.
- Learn Colors Through Stories—Youth Literature Reviews suggests reading to kids about colors in order for them to understand colors better.
- Sidewalk Chalk—Learn, Play, Imagine combines learning colors with gross motor activity. Read about how she used sidewalk chalk to accomplish this.
- Color Days—Queen Bee Housewife explains how she and her toddler have color days where they will point out everything that is a certain color.
Drag out the blocks and shape sorter and play with your toddler. Say the name of the shapes when you put them in the ball or stack up a block. Look for shapes when you are at the store. Challenge your toddler to find 10 things that are round before you leave the store. This works on shapes as well as counting. Don’t be afraid to tell your toddler that you don’t know what shape something is. Sometimes items are irregular and aren’t just one shape. Books about shapes will work on reading and listening skills as well as shape recognition. Whenever you can, tie together more than one learning skill. Read through these 10 blogs to get some ideas on how to work with shapes.
- Read Books—Try this book by a Baylor alumni called Star, Circle, Baylor that teaches toddlers their shapes.
- Velcro Craft Sticks—Smiling Like Sunshine made some craft sticks with Velcro on the ends and some in the middle to show her toddler how to make shapes out of the sticks.
- Peg Monsters—Mum of One helps her toddler make a peg monster that eats shapes. There’s a free printable for the shape sheet on the post.
- Tracing Shapes—Hands on as We Grow uses a chalkboard to teach shapes. The toddler traces the chalk shape with a wet paint brush and he learns the shape.
- Peg Board and Rubber Bands—Momstown Hamilton shows toddlers how they can make shapes by using a peg board and rubber bands.
- Painting Shapes—Leah Inspired took one shape per day and did activities around that shape, like painting with a circle cookie cutter or gluing rectangular pieces of tissue paper.
- Magazine Search—Super Fun Mama suggests giving the toddlers some old magazines and kid-safe scissors to cut out shapes that they find and glue them to a paper in the box labeled for that shape.
- Shapes in Contact Paper—My Silly Little Life shows toddlers how to make shapes and put them between contact paper sheets to hang in the window.
- Create a Shape Character—123 Teach with Me shares how she supplied toddlers with rectangles and let them create a robot.
- Trace and Color—Life with Toddlers provides printables for you to make worksheets for your child to trace and color each shape while you talk them.
Sharing with Friends
Unlike some skills, sharing does not come naturally to toddlers. Toddlers think that everything belongs to them, even if they have just seen it for the first time across the playground. Start by practicing sharing with your child at home when you’re playing. Play with a toy, then offer it to your toddler to play with. Encourage him to thank you for the toy. After he has been playing with a toy for a while, ask if you can play with it. Don’t force the issue, but work on modeling sharing at home before getting together with peers. Read more about sharing and how to teach it to your toddler in these 10 blog posts.
- Ask for a Toy—Isis Parenting explains that you want to teach your toddler empathy, so if they took a toy from another child go to the other child first and be empathetic about what happened and give them a different toy. Then ask for the toy from your child instead of taking it from him.
- Point Out Sharing—According to Harvey Karp MD, author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block, you should point out when you see someone sharing when you are out in the world, such as a mom sharing fruit with her child. More from this article can be found on WebMD.
- Model Sharing—Toddlers mimic what they see. According to Young Parents Community, you should model sharing by sharing things with your children and praising them when you see them sharing with a sibling.
- Sharing Must be Freely Done—Talking Toddlers points out that you shouldn’t make your child share because they will then not equate good feelings with sharing and won’t want to do it again.
- Praise Your Child for Sharing—More 4 Kids explains how you should catch your child sharing and praise them so that they feel good when they share and will want to do it again.
- Set Your Child up to Succeed—Consistent Parenting Advice talks about how hard it is for your child to take their favorite toy to the park only to have to share it with a friend before they’ve had a chance to play with it. Learn how to handle this by reading this blog post.
- Take Turns—PAMP explains that toddlers up to age three don’t understand ownership, making it’s hard to share, but if you can explain that the kids will take turns with a toy then toddlers will start to learn about sharing.
- Sing Sharing Songs—Growing a Jeweled Rose shares links with 10 different songs about sharing that you can sing with your child.
- Be Consistent—Explaining to your child that they need to share should always be the rule, but if there are times when you wouldn’t make your child share a prized possession then you will need to put it up during the play date to avoid being inconsistent, suggests The Labor of Love.
- Use a Timer—According to Craigslist Dad, using a timer to signal when it’s time to take turns has worked for his family.
Children of all ages love music. Start early by tapping out the beat on your lap or clapping with your hands. Help your toddler clap with the beat. Make sure that your child is learning musicality before you move her to an instrument. Do finger exercises to strengthen her fingers before she is expected to play an instrument. You can even teach your toddler to play the drums if you dare. Check out these 10 blogs to learn how to incorporate music into your lesson plans for your toddler.
- Have Fun—The American Viola Society encourages music teachers to make the experience fun for the kids instead of mechanical so that they have a good feeling about it.
- Sing to and with Your Toddler—Start early by singing to your child. When he is able, teach him to sing with you, as music helps cognitive development per Teach What Counts.
- Use a Book—Try using the book Drumset for Preschoolers, which takes you step-by-step through teaching your child to play the drums and has exercises for kids as young as two, according to Grade Infinity.
- Use Hand Signals—According to Moms Have Questions Too, kids can learn music and other skills by using hand signals while listening to or singing songs.
- Repeat Things—The Teaching Studio recommends singing or going over songs several times so that toddlers start understanding better what you are teaching.
- Learn by Video—PBX Training shares a video where your child can use a simple xylophone that he already has to learn to play ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.
- Play Games—Read more about playing age specific games with toddlers to learn music, as shown on Sweet Pickle.
- Matching Game—Print out this pumpkin matching game from Susan Paradis, which teaches notes on the treble clef.
- Pound the Beats—Early Childhood Education points out that you can teach toddlers the beats by pounding them out on a drum.
- Songs about Everyday Things—Billy Gorilly encourages the use of songs to teach everyday things, like the concept of big versus small.
Toddlers love to help their parents to establish their independence. Take advantage of this stage by teaching them how to do simple chores around the house. These 10 posts explain things that are developmentally appropriate to teach your toddler. Don’t expect them to do it as fast or as well as you can, but encourage them to help so that they are used to helping and doing things around the house as they get older. If you wait until they are older they will resent it and not understand why they have to help all of a sudden.
- Four Steps to a Clean Room—Mom of 6 explains her method for decluttering your child’s room so they can maintain a clean room all the time.
- Sorting Laundry—According to the post on First Coast Home Pros, toddlers as young as two can learn to sort laundry.
- Unloading the Dishwasher—Pocket Full of Posies explains how toddlers love to emulate adults and can help you unload the dishwasher.
- Set the Table—Thanks to the placemats shown on The Chirping Moms, toddlers can follow the picture on the placemat to set the table by themselves.
- Watering the Plants—Make a watering can like the one on Mama Pea Pod to allow your toddler to help water without drowning the plants.
- Wipe off Baseboards—Rediscovering Yesterday lists 25 things that your toddler can do to help you around the house, one of which is to wipe off the baseboards.
- Pick Up Toys—According to Hitched, kids as young as two can pick up random toys and put them away.
- Put Away Groceries—Playful Learning believes that early on you should let your baby watch you work and then involve him in what you are doing as soon as possible, including things like putting away the groceries.
- Put Away Clean Clothes—Baby Center has an article about chores stating that a toddler can help put away their own clean clothes as long as you label the drawers to make it simpler.
- Dust with a Sock—Show your toddler how to dust with a sock on his hand. As he gets older he will be able to dust more fragile items, as discussed on Life Organize It.
It’s never too early to start teaching your toddler about the bible and God. These 10 blogs will explain bible lessons that are age appropriate. Mix reading simple bible stores with craft projects that tie into the lesson. Make sure that you know the material you want to share and transition from activity to activity quickly so that your toddler doesn’t lose interest. If you make the lesson fun you will keep the attention of your toddler. For examples, read these posts.
- Mirror Lesson—Using a large mirror you can cover part of it and then ask your toddler to look in the mirror and explain that sometimes we don’t see everything in God’s plan while you go over James 1:23, as explained on Ministry to Children.
- Read Directly from the Bible—When telling bible stories there are different ways to tell the same story to your toddler, according to A Year with Mom and Dad.
- Transition Quickly—Download an exciting bible class for babies and toddlers that uses toys to help tell the story at True Aim Education.
- Simple Stories—Start with the simple stories says Christian Net, like Noah’s Ark and Adam and Eve.
- Teach through Games—Kids learn differently than adults, so to make it fun you can use games like the one shown on The Hem of His Garment.
- Balloon Activity—Free Children’s Bible Lessons explains an activity where you fill a balloon with air that cannot be seen, much like God.
- Teaching Right from Wrong—Use bible stories to teach your child right and wrong, as described in the post on The Mini Ark.
- Use Supplemental Coloring Pages—Read stories from a children’s bible and then add to the story by having your kids do additional activities like the ones discussed on Family Abounds.
- Sing Songs about Heaven—This blogger on Reach the Children by Hook or by Crook suggests singing a song about heaven to the tune of London Bridges.
- Salt Lesson—You’re the Man Jesus describes a bible lesson that uses salt when explaining about the Salt and the Light in Matthew 5: 13-16.
Turning some kid-friendly music on and dancing around the room is a simple way to get your toddler dancing. By the age of three your toddler can go to a formal dance class, but you will need to make sure that the teacher has been trained to work with very young children. Due to a short attention span your toddler will need to keep moving and learning. Many times basic moves are all you can expect from a toddler, but make sure that she is having fun. Toddlers still need to learn gross motor skills and a knowledgeable teacher will encourage them to skip, hop, jump and crawl across the room. For more tips on teaching dance moves to a toddler, check out these 10 blogs.
- Incorporate Play before Dance—Put out balls and hula hoops and let the kids play before you try to teach them the dance, says Dance Advantage.
- Be Open to New Ideas—Maria’s Movers interviews teachers that believe that dance should be fun and that you should let kids be creative.
- Use Creative Language—Teach your child to jump and hop by having your child be a friendly frog, a baby kangaroo or even popcorn, as suggested on Dance.
- Keep the Kids Separated—Sometimes kids can get injured if they stand too close to each other, so Hey Kiki recommends having your young dancer make room.
- Don’t Expect Too Much—Toddlers can learn to dance, but don’t expect them to learn to dance in a prescribed way, according to 365 Dances.
- Play Follow the Leader—When kids are very young a simple way to start them dancing is by putting on some dance music and playing follow the leader with your child, says Teach Kids How.
- Instill a Love for Dance—If you push too hard on getting your toddler to learn a structured dance lesson, she may dislike dance because it doesn’t seem fun, but if you let her dance her way and discover how her body works she will develop a love of dance, says 4 Dancers.
- Start with Skipping—According to York Shop Talk, beginning dancing should entail gross motor skills like skipping, hopping and galloping.
- Do Actions While Dancing—Get the kids active by asking them to spin around or touch their toes while dancing to music suggests Kids Play and Create.
- Turn on Some Music—The best thing you can do to get kids dancing is to turn on some music and dance with them says My Kids Guide.
Start saying please and thank you when your baby is very young. Kids learn by modeling and if they constantly hear good manners they will think that is normal and learn to have proper manners. Manners extend far beyond just please and thank you though. Teach your child not to chew with his mouth open or talk with his mouth full. Social graces like putting your napkin on your lap and not eating until everyone has been served can be taught as time goes on. Check out these 10 blogs for more ways that you can teach manners to your toddler.
- Napkin Game—Lara’s Place and a Cup of Grace suggests playing a game with the napkin by asking if it should go on your head or on the floor, etc.
- Start Young—In the Way encourages you to start very young by using please and thank you with your kids so they will grow up learning it.
- Play the Peas Game—Celeb Baby Laundry encourages you to play the Peas Please game using 10 peas to teach please and thank you.
- Teach by Modeling—Kids learn by watching you at the dinner table, so you need to make sure that you are using your manners every time says Haselfre.
- Make Up a Funny Reminder Sound—Hold everyone in the family accountable for good manners by having a funny phrase or sound that anyone can do if someone forgets their manners by GR Kids.
- Praise Good Manners—Sleep Sense suggests praising your child anytime you catch him using his manners that way he will feel good about using them.
- Wait Until Everyone is Served—She Knows gets into the nitty gritty of manners and goes over a long list of them, including waiting until everyone has been served before you start eating unless you’re told to do otherwise by the host.
- Ask to be Excused—Craig N Company suggests some common manners for kids, and one is to ask to be excused before leaving the dinner table.
- Use a Fork Not Fingers—Suite 101 explains how important it is for kids to use their fork and not their fingers and to lay their fork on their plate after using it instead of putting it back onto the table.
- Scripting for Manners—Parenting Skills discusses scripts for how to get your kids to speak to you with respect and how you can accomplish this goal.
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