In this time of quarantine, thank God for Pinterest! This Grandma is determined to make a preschool like environment for her two grand-babies while they can’t attend their own. And Pinterest has come to save the day. But I have to tell you that sometimes things on Pinterest look so easy and reality plays out a different way. So I thought I’d start sharing what reality produces.
First of all, the process is easy:
I type in a word like “Toddler”. Then add another “Projects”
and up pops so many ideas that I have to stop and think! What do I really want to do with them. There’s so many ideas! Well, it’s springtime so why not add the word
So I freehanded the flowers (not too difficult) using a black marker on printer paper.
Watercolor paint was portioned out in a little paint container.
The end product was enough for this day. They were left to dry. The next day, I cut them out because they are too little yet to cut a shape like this.
Almost too pretty to do the next step but I told myself that we could always do this activity again.
So here’s the blooming part!
From here, things deteriorated to such a degree that I had to stop taking pictures. The two year old turned all of her flowers into pulp. The three year old tried to gently pull the flowers out only to rip them all. She then just enjoyed pouring water from the tub to the table. With a great deal of haste, I retrieved a sieve to drain the tubs and not clog the drains. So, while this was a picture perfect idea, I was not completely prepared.
We are entering week two of the Coronavirus Isolation. Many moms and dads are trying to work from home and take care of their children. For older children, the schools have identified ways to stay connected on-line to help keep the kids learning. However, daycares also closed. These little ones are home now with parents who are stressed. Some are out of work, some are trying to maintain a paycheck by working from home. No one has the time to figure out how to make each day happy for all concerned. That’s where I maybe can help.
Retired Teacher – Grandma
My previous working life was spent with children. I know a few tricks for playing with little ones but this has even tested me. I am dusting off my previous learning and trying to pull together balanced activities for two grandchildren that I watch three days a week. I have the good fortune of living right next door.
So, first I started with a plan to connect some like activities (see previous post). It was pretty simple and involved lots of painting, a little play dough, one book, and a walk outside. As I am sitting here, in my quiet, though I thought I can do better than that. I know some things about learning.
I tend to go to what I enjoy…art projects. And that does not always satisfy a child’s needs.
I know there there are multiple ways for children to learn and a good/balanced day will include these multiple approaches.
I also know that it’s fun to plan everything around a theme. It helps to control my short attention span…and their’s.
And, above all else, I know that the best laid plans won’t always work.
S-imple is better
M-ake it fun
L-et them lead
E-njoy this time with them
First I Dusted Off My Memory of Multiple Intelligences
There are several great sites online to simply google but this one from Scholastic actually gave a list of ideas. My grandchildren are young so I have to improvise but I always had to do that in my career, so this is just a good creative activity for me. From the list I think the following with work well with my 2 and 3 year old.
Verbal-Linguistic (Word Smart)
Words, Words, Words, Words, Words!
Talk to them about everything.
Read book after book after book and talk about the pictures.
Repeat rhymes over and over again.
Let them make up stories.
Logical-Mathematical (Number Smart)
Count everything (How many steps it takes to get upstairs, how many books did we read)
Make repeating patterns
Ask questions like “What will happen if we put this color with this color?” “What might happen if we drop oil into the water?” “What will come next?”
Spacial-Intelligence (Picture Smart)
Little ones learn so much about the world from story books: the pictures represent some form of reality. Then, if a child can replicate pictures, characters, settings with common objects is thrilling.
Break out the puzzle ideas. Make some related to the theme. Cut up pictures into the number of pieces that your child can successfully put back together
Break out the play dough and the cookie cutters. Make samples of the things that you’ve been talking about
Draw pictures of the characters, the weather…anything that links to your theme
Build structures with legos to keep the stories going.
Musical Intelligence (Music Smart)
I can’t speak for all children but I know that my grandchildren love rhythm and music. There is something about music that soothes the soul.
Listen to all kinds of music. Whether there in car seats or running around the house, music sets a tone. So if you want things to quiet down, play quiet music. If you want them to get up and get moving, play quick music. ETC.
Children’s music, nursery rhymes, and simple songs are so great to encourage little ones to sing along. Playing the same music over and over again helps them succeed.
Make up songs. I have been known to turn most everything into some kind of song. It doesn’t fail to put a smile on their faces. In time, I’ll ask them to make up a song.
Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (Body Smart)
It’s a no brainer that little kids need to move but letting little kids just race around and jump off furniture is not safe. And, Grandma has more anxiety about bumps and bruises than when I was younger so…I encourage control.
Role playing is fantastic. Crawling like a caterpillar, flying like a butterfly, leaping like a frog, jumping like a kangeroo are all controlled movements.
Take the cushions off the couch and let them climb and jump from a safe height.
Interpersonal Intelligence (People Smart)
Little ones move through developmental stages. In the beginning they play alone, then slowly move into a side by side and then cooperative. Being able to negotiate the changes as they happen is so important. Right now my 2 and 3 year old struggle with sharing. That makes it more important than ever to give them opportunities to practice.
Almost all activities we do have a component of taking a turn. Talk them through it. Don’t expect it to be learned easily or quickly. Praise them for their patience and willingness to share.
Encourage play that helps each child play their part. The 3 year old, right now is into playing a Disney character. She usually dictates what role her sister plays but for right now it’s working and they play successfully this way.
This is a good time, also, to practice good manners – Saying “Please” and “Thank-you” and “Can I take a turn?”
Intra-personal Intelligence (Self-Smart)
Little ones are developmentally self absorbed so this one is easy.
Identify body parts – simple point and name games
Touch your head…touch your toes
Find things that are their favorites…favorite book, favorite song, favorite toy and name it as such. This is C’s favorite toy, This is N’s favorite song.
This is a good time to have them answer question like “which one do you like?” This gives them the power of a choice.
Naturalistic-Intelligence (Nature Smarts)
Whenever the weather is nice, we go for a walk. Even during this time of isolation, we can still be outside. So, weather permitting we…
Go in search of…one day it was finding all the RED cars, one day it was listening for birds, the latest was looking for signs of spring (flowers popping up out of the ground, squirrels running around, birds singing),
Find nature objects to collect and bring back to use as a paint brush, nearly everything works. Don’t forget to bring along a bag. They will find a lot.
Plant seeds, start your own garden.
Walk in a woods to find a greater variety of leaves, plants, animals.
Now It’s Time To Plan
Going through this activity alone has refreshed me on how important it is to vary a child’s play. I am going to print this list off and keep it next to me as I plan this next week. I have been guilty of falling back on what is comfortable for me. I need to push myself out of my comfort zone to make sure that I let my littles practice every way of learning. I am going to develop next weeks theme and I will share it here.
A cold and rainy Monday, do you want to hang around inside the house all day? No. Me neither. What to do, what to do! There is this place; it’s called “Chasing Tales“. It’s a giant playroom just for kids like you. We’ve been there before. The minute we pulled into the parking lot it starts; screaming joy from the back seat!
I open the door and the wiggling, squirming, twisting and turning starts.
“I have to pay. We have to take our shoes off.”
Well, go fast, Grandma!
And you’re off.
So much to do.
You run from one area to another; touching, picking up, inspecting,
sometimes stopping to look at another child, briefly,
sometimes wanting to examine the very thing that someone else is playing with,
so you just take it.
They do the same to you as well.
Funny how kids your age don’t really care,
you just move on to the next thing to explore.
Oh wait, there’s another room It’s a giant gym! Running is easy: falling is no big deal. There are things to climb, balls to carry and throw and kick, riding toys; lots of riding toys, slides, a little house with a door that you can open and close by yourself. Ah, baby love!
The noise level is louder in this space, so first you just stand there and scream.
No one cares.
Scream to your hearts content.
Then you’re off: riding, climbing, running, riding, climbing, running.
And then you realized that you were tall enough to climb the biggest structure of all.
You have no fear.
Well, Grandma has a lifetime of fear, so the camera gets put away.
Oh my goodness, you are climbing up some high steps!
Grandma has to climb too. What?
Well, you are not going to fall on my watch!
And after running around and around, back and forth from room to room,
hitting (oops, sometimes it’s another little kid),
and climbing that structure again and again,
you stand outside of that little house and scream at a little girl, in your baby babble,
because she won’t open the door.
It was time to go home.
You didn’t complain. You were tired.
Still, you jabbered from your carseat all the way back home.
And when we got home, you slept…and so did Grandma.
You probably don’t remember but about 7 months ago, I took you for a walk in this woods? Same woods, same stroller, but now you are a bigger baby! It’s a beautiful spring day; the perfect kind of day for another walk in the woods with Grandma. Let’s see what we see this time, shall we? First, you are now 17 months old. You don’t say many real words but you communicate just the same. It starts with you pointing to things. So, I decided to take a picture of everything you pointed to. First were the branches way up high, then the trees and path straight ahead. I didn’t judge. I just accommodated, labeling everything that you pointed to.
With the next photo, you pointed towards the pond and said “uck”; your word for duck and goose. You couldn’t see them but you could hear them.
Remember no judgement!
You don’t say owl but you make an owl sound with you mouth closed. Try it. Say “Hoo-Hoo” with your mouth closed. That’s the word for owl right now; any owl, every owl you see. You seem to find them everywhere.
Time to get out of the stroller.
Last fall, you crawled into this little house. I think you stayed about as long this time as last time still.
10 seconds into the house,
5 seconds to look out the window, and
2 seconds to get out.
You were far more interested in continuing the walk. So, onward! Back into the stroller, you went.
A duck, a duck, we finally spot a duck.
Well, it’s a goose
duck, duck, goose…
one and the same.
Then, time to get out of the stroller again.
Now this is something more interesting than the “uck”. You spot a ramp!
Up and Down,
Up and Down,
the ramp you went.
I grew tired of this activity. You probably would still be there going up and down, up and down.
But with a bit of protest, I got you back in the stroller and in no time, your fingers were pointing again. This time…
Yea! Your way of saying flower is in sign language. You put your fingers up to your nose and sniff. Mmmmm, pretty flowers. Man after my own heart.
Then, you spotted a trail marker post. So, I pointed to both of the colors but then gave you a job.
“Which path are we going to follow, little man? How about if we follow the yellow. Can you be on the lookout for the yellow markers?” You were doing a great job until you became distracted with this:
You liked this…a lot! When I tried to move you away, you pointed right back.
Ok, finally on the path again and you are on duty, pointing to every yellow marker you find.
But then all of a sudden you GASP! This deserved a two finger pointing!
at the same time!
Ok, so it doesn’t take much to get you excited! But, that sure entertained Grandma 🙂
Now that we were clear of the water and big rocks, it was time to get you out of the stroller for the last time.
Time for a snack, Grandma. This fresh air makes me hungry!
And then it’s already time to find the paths back home. This was tricky but we did it!
After following all the different paths, we finally found our way back home. One last stop before we call it a day.
And then, you rang the wind chimes to let everyone know we were back home, safe and sound.
What a beautiful day with you little man. Let’s walk in the woods again real soon, ok?