Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Toddler Idea Tuesdays:

Tots and Me

We haven't been doing much as far as lessons go lately. As you can well imagine the baby is keeping me a tad busy. But we have plans on starting school back up on August 13th, the week after Vacation Bible School. Tabitha is 5 years old and starting kindergarten. I really can't believe that. It seems like just yesterday I was trying to figure out how to start a blog so I could share all the fun activities and crafts we were doing when she was 2 years old. 
Now, I have been struggling with what I should be working on with Hannah. Some will say she is too young to be doing structured lessons with. The thing is, I have seen the fun Tabitha and Amelia have had during our "lesson time" and this has been reinforced at times when they have asked to have lesson time when I had stopped it for a while. So I have every intention of continuing to involve Hannah in our lesson time. The question still remained, what do I do with her. She has been tagging along this past year with the sporadic lessons. She loves coloring, scribbling and gluing. 
Then I remembered, as mentioned above, this blog was started to share the activities I was doing with Tabitha when she was TWO. Sort of a duh moment. Hannah is quite ready to start participating more. So, while we are doing My Father's World she will be tagging along and I have started digging into my archives to remember what I was doing with the older girls at this age.
And why not share the ideas with my readers?
So, without further ado, here is my first in a series of things to do with Toddlers.

I decided to start by sharing different ideas to help build a foundation for reading.  Reading is very important to me and more than that, I want to instill  a love of reading in my children. It still bugs me to no end that my older children, who went through the public school system still have trouble reading. This was one of the huge reasons I decided to homeschool. This is what I focused on from the very beginning. I admit, I was a little crazy. I wanted Tabitha to be reading as early as possible. I even purchased a book titled, Native Reading by Timothy D. Kailing. I have since calmed down and come to my senses that it is not imperative for a child to be reading before the age of 2 in order to be a successful reader. I am glad that I never pushed Tabitha. But there are some little tidbits of information that I hung onto. 
  • Let children play with letters. Magnetic letters, foam letters and alphabet wooden blocks are all great ways to make letters real to children. 
  • Give the child the name of the letter and what sound it makes. I have read or been taught conflicting views on this. Some say just teach the letter name. Others say teach the sound. I have combined both quite successfully. In the book Native Reading it is emphasized to make these letters another play toy. We name the toys for the children, we also need to name the letters, make them a real and important part of a child's world. 
  • Combine letters into words. 
  • Let children play with words. I actually made some word magnets out of painted cardboard onto which I wrote words with marker and then glued magnetic strips to. There are word magnets out there, some that even come with separate picture magnets. We just couldn't afford them.
  • Set aside special time every day to play with letters to make them an important part of their world.
Hannah actually enjoys playing with the magnetic letters we have. 
Here are some that I recommend:
Melissa & Doug Magnetic Wooden Alphabet
Things I love about these letter magnets:
They include both the upper and lower case letters. 
The letters are formed the way children are taught to write letters (see the "a" above).
The entire letter is a magnet, unlike the plastic magnetic letters that only has a little magnet in the back. 

LeapFrog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Alphabet Set - Styles May Vary
Things I love about this product:
(Actually, this isn't the style we have, but it works the same)
The children get to hear the ABC song if there is no magnet in the holder. 
If they add a letter magnet they hear the letter name and the sound it makes.
You can use the letter magnets without the phonics holder, so the children can form words on the fridge.

We also have a set of magnetic letters that have the Braille equivalent of each letter on the letter.
I believe I found these at the thrift shop. We don't do anything with the Braille, but I thought it was neat. I actually purchased these because I wanted a set of letters the girls could play with and I would not be as concerned if they got lost. 

Another fun activity I made for the girls using magnetic letters involved a cookie sheet, some blank pieces of paper and the letters shown directly above. I wrote letters on the paper (3 down, 3 across) and had the girls match them using the magnets. We would match upper case magnets to upper case. Then I would write the lower case so they could match upper case to lower case. I'm sure Hannah could do this now as she has been showing greater dexterity in putting foam puzzles together.

Besides these few great ways to encourage children to play with letters we also have foam letters for the bathtub. I will have Hannah give me a letter and tell her the name and the sound for it. The older children will build words. We have a small set of foam letters for the bathtub and a larger set (letters are about 4 inches tall) for the girls to just play with. Needless to say, there are a lot of letters surrounding these girls.

It is very important to me that the girls have a strong phonics foundation and I believe starting with games and activities where I emphasize not just the letter but the sound as well is extremely important. Not only do we learn the sound for the letter, I also play a game in order to encourage phonemic awareness. This was a game we used to play at the Montessori. For this game you do not show the letters. It is making the children aware of the sounds in spoken words. Say, for example, "I hear 'mmmm' when I say 'mmmoon,' 'mmman,' 'mmmouse,' etc." Probably would be a good idea to have objects to show to represent the word, but I don't always do that. Don't forget to have the child try to think of words that start with the letter. I love playing this with them at a young age, but they don't usually join in until they are older.

I also need to recommend one book set that I have had for years (poor thing has seen better days)
Sesame Street Alphabet ABC A B C Puzzle Board Books - Set of 26 A to Z
Each book is dedicated to one letter of the alphabet. I love the rhyming text that a lot of the books are written in. Even at the age of 2 the children start to recognize which letter is in each book and start recognizing the letter from the cover in the book itself.

There are some of the fun things we did to reinforce the importance of letters and sounds. Before I even started my blog I had been doing Letter of the Week with Tabitha. These days of focusing on one letter for a week or two really helped the girls learn

Join me next week for some of the hands on crafts and activities we did during our "Letter of the Week" lessons.

For now, do you have any tips for encouraging a love of reading in toddlers? Do you have any posts you would like to link up? These could be older posts as well. I would love for you to share.


  1. I love it~!~!~ I have a child that does not want to learn and when we buy her all the puzzles with the letters and the leapfrog laptop she still refuses to do it.

  2. thank you for the reminder, I have to start getting activities together for my baby when our schooling starts in a few weeks. You have some great ideas!

  3. My kids are both young, 4 and almost 2. I don't do a whole lot of formal lessons with them. But, what I do do a lot of is reading. I read all the time for myself, and so I make it a point to do the same for them. I think that it helps them learn language in a way that is easy for everyone. My kids don't only listen to children's books either. Since my oldest was an infant, I have spent a lot of time reading anything and everything to them. I read Jane Austen, Chronicles of Narnia, I have read my oldest all the Harry Potter books - before she was 1. I read non-fiction that I am reading myself. Granted, it isn't sitting down reading non-fiction for hours on end, it is reading one chapter of Persuasion and then a book of their choosing.

    The link I linked to above talks about demonstrating to your kids what you love. Showing them how you use subjects in daily life will help them to realize they need to learn it as well. It is something that I hadn't thought about until recently. But, if I don't like x, most likely my kids won't experience it, and will end up not liking it as well. Good luck!

  4. What a great idea! I really should get E some magnetic letters.

  5. I love your ideas on how to install a love of reading in young children. I too am amazed at how are public school systems are failing are children in this basic fundamental area.

  6. This is great! I have a toddler also, and we have so much fun playing with letters. She just turned 3 and can identify most letter and is starting to be able to write some! =)


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