Thursday, May 3, 2012
I can hardly believe my toddler turned three this year! She is becoming one smart little girl and curious about the world. A year ago it was easy to give her something challenging to do, now she is asking for more and more. As a 'homeschooling from birth' family we love educational toys that not only entertain our kids but teach them through play. Learning has become part of our everyday life and the kids are naturally exploring the world through everything they do.
You don't necessarily need a toy to teach kids certain things, but sometimes it helps. Baby E learned to count first with her abacus, it was attractive and interactive to her and I liked that it is contained and creates no mess! Then we proceeded to count everything in sight throughout the day. Wheels on a car, crackers in her snack cup, how many hair accessories she has, fingers, plush toys, forks, etc.
Right now she is very curious about geography, she realizes that people live in various places and not just where we live. We are planning some travels through the summer and it is the perfect opportunity to teach her some geography. She can show you where she lives and where all her cousins live throughout the United States. Next up I would love to teach her about simple finances with coin and paper bill denominations, the wooden cash register would come in handy with that, though I would fill it with real coins (and hide it far from our 6 month old!).
We have also been learning about time, the concept of which still escapes my 3 year old's mind! She sometimes says 'tomorrow' when she really means to say 'yesterday'. It's too cute! I almost don't want her to learn the 'right' way! I always point out the time to her on the clock when we need to be somewhere at a certain time or when it is time for bed, lunch, dinner. The Plan Toys wooden clock is perfect for teaching time, it comes with little activity cards that you can place on top of the clock and the movable clock arms can be pointed at a particular time. It's colorful and engaging, it gives an interactive dimension you can't have with a regular clock unless you wouldn't mind the kids breaking it!
Moving on in terms of basic physics and math, the balancing monkeys game from Plan Toys is a great way to learn how to balance quantities in a fun, engaging way. Aside from mathematical skills it also teaches perseverance, something my toddler could definitely use more of! It is made of natural, Eco friendly, recycled rubber wood. It also teaches coordination for younger toddlers (above 3) that need to master that skill.
When learning takes place as part of everyday life and not just a block of time, kids don't get tired of it or burnt out. Learning remains fun, something that is easy in the early years but may get harder as they mature and especially if they attend public school where learning tends to be forced - not led by their curiosity. So in the early years, take every opportunity to keep educational moments spontaneous, voluntary, and hands on through every day play!
Explore learning toys at Thanks Mama!