Planning for Toddlers – Spring Theme

Repurposed Doll Hats

My 3 year old grand-daughter stepped into my home on Friday and said “Grandma, do you have a project for us today?”

Claire, Age 3

Last week was a week of learning. Learning how to navigate life under social isolation, learning how to not watch too much news, and learning to be thankful for those little things. For me, it’s that I live next door to my daughter and her family. While they try to work from home, I am right here to take care of the 3 and 2 year old. And it’s because of this moment that I decided to change things up with them. I have been watching two grandchildren three days a week before this happened but now I am changing how I do things for two reasons:

  1. One of them had participated in a preschool program 2 out of my 3 days so I felt that she was being challenged there. While she attended that, her younger sister attended a Child Drop program at the YMCA which gave her socialization time and me a reason to exercise. Now both of these services are closed and it’s up to me to provide a different stimulation for their young quickly developing brains.
  2. I also feel as though they have reached an age where if my time with them was typical daycare, it really gave the kids full control over what we did. I was just there to play along. I have to tell you, those days sound simple but they can be exhausting. Now, after writing up plans and using coordinated play, I feel a sense of control and a renewed excitement. It is all still play based time and they still direct when and how long each planned event lasts but now I feel I have control of some of the time and I have the choice of what books are read/watched, what vocabulary is highlighted, what the fine/gross motor emphasis will be.

I’ve Made Some Changes This Week

After trying to follow my own plans this past week, I realized that I had way too many things planned for each day which put me behind immediately on day one. Then, one day, my daughter tried to follow the day’s plans and she didn’t understand it at all so I had to send her directions in an easier to follow format. And lastly, when I went to open up some of my linked documents, they didn’t save well in a pdf format, so this week, I have developed a format in Goggle Docs: one for each day of the week.

The next thing I’ve done is plan one concept for Monday, a different one for Tuesday, then a review/catch up/ or have fun repeating on Wednesday. Then Thursday, I expanded on the concepts from Monday, Tuesday, and even the previous weeks. This allows the needed repetition of words with just a slight twist. It also makes everything easier for this Grandma.

Friday, I want a blank template. Read your favorite books, bake cookies. Anything goes.

So Friday’s template is blank. Use this to make up your own themes and plans if you want. It’s fun. And it might be fun to share them back with me.

Plans for Week Three

Plans are set up one day at a time. There is no designated time limit and no intended sequence of activities. What I learned this week is that the kids need free play first when they get to my house. And, they seem to need to check out the whole house just to make sure everything is still in the same place or something. When I think the time is right, I guide them to one of the day’s activities.

Monday – this day is all about birds. Someone shared a link to 50 bird sounds. Wait till you hear that! And, I’m excited to let them make a nest out of blankets, build a bird from play dough, and (weather permitting) get outside to gather leaves and twigs and try to make a real bird nest. My other daughter also clued me in on a great little Children’s yoga video series called Cosmic Kids. We tried one last week, and the oldest could do about 15 minutes. Not bad!

Best Play Dough Recipe

2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 2 Tablespoons Alum, 1.5 cup warm water, 2 Tablespoons oil, Food Coloring, (Optional – 5 drops Lavender Essential Oil)

Cook over low heat until dry looking, Turn onto table and knead. Store in covered container

Tuesday – The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Oh my goodness, this one will be fun! There are so many fun things to do with this theme. Narrowing them down was the hardest part.

Wednesday – Repeat, Review, Catch up. I’ve added a couple more links to try as well just for fun

Thursday – Brings things together on this day by going back to our seeds and then rereading books with a focus on sequence. What happens first, next, and last.

Friday – Empty Template. Free Day. This is a day to give lots of choice. Finish project, dance to the music of the week, bake cookies, watch a movie. Anything goes.

Feel free to copy and use the template to plan your own lessons.

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