Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WFMW - "A" Activity Trays

Tot School
Esmé's Mommy here.

I've been having a hard time deciding how much detail to share of our alphabet school each week. The alphabet posts have generally taken the most time to put together and get the least comments - most of my "known" readers aren't into all the details. Yet these posts also get the most hits on my blog, so I'm guessing there are a few anonymous readers out there.

So here's what we're gonna do. Only one post each week devoted specifically to "school," as we've been doing in the past. I'll give you an outline of what we're doing, including some photos and a little feedback on how things worked. The idea is simply to pass on ideas, not to provide a "curriculum" or to keep track of all the sources and links. If you want a specific link, let me know via email or comment and I'll try to get it to you.

We're spending two weeks on each letter, so for organizational purposes, I'll go through our activity trays one week, and then the themed activities the second week.

So here are the "A" activity trays that worked for us this week!

Sensory Tub. We filled a small tub with alphabet macaroni, and put in a few measuring cups and spoons for good measure. So we got practice figuring how many 1/8 cups filled a 1/4 cup, etc, as well as practice "hiding" our hands and feet in the tub. I also used the tub to hide various objects for crafts - plaster planes and wood apples for painting, etc. And Esmé also liked picking out the Os, Ws, Vs, and As. (And I found the macaroni in the Mexican section of the grocery store, not the pasta section...)
Shake 'n Sniff. I put a teaspoon of allspice into an apple-shaped shaker and paired it up with a coffee filter for Esmé to sprinkle the allspice onto. I refilled it a couple of times and replaced the coffee filter, too. And the first time I realized I needed to include her little broom and dustpan with this activity, so she could sweep up her mess afterwards!
Counting. I had two activities for counting. The first was a tray of 15 acorns, to be counted out into cups of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Counting didn't actually happen unless I was involved, but she liked carrying the little acorns around.
The second counting activity was 15 crocheted angels in an angel bag. These could also be counted in rows of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 to make an angel tree.
Play Doh. Play doh is a very important part of our school! It does take my involvement, as I get to roll it out. I've been collecting cookie cutters from thrift stores - so for A week we had an angel, an apple, an airplane, and the letter A.
Matching. I had two sets of matching games out - one that included "A" pictures from a Memory game, and the other a 3-part card set I printed - though we are only using two parts for now - not matching written words yet! Though I might need to do so soon. Esmé does the matching right the first time, just to show me she can do it, and then she just messes around with me and mismatches everything... (Those Memory card holder boxes work great for this - 12 cards is about the max I'd use for Esmé.)

Color Sorting. I made an apple tree and an orange tree out of felt, and cut 10 of each fruit from felt, also. I mixed them up and let Esmé put the correct fruit on the correct tree. She did perfectly the first time through, and then just like with the matching activity, she starting messing things around. Her favorite part was alternating the fruit to put back on the tray for the next time through.

Magnets. Esmé loves magnets, so I've started collecting these from thrift stores, too. My best investment was a set of five photo frame magnets. We looked through a magazine for "A" pictures, ripped them out, and stuck them in the frames. The magnets are in a bowl on her activity tray shelf, and she has a little magnet board to put them on, or she can carry them to the fridge and use them there.

Rubber Stamps. I've started a collection of rubber stamps from thrift stores, too. I put "A" stamps on a tray with ink pads and strips of paper to make bookmarks.Esmé enjoys this if I am playing along with her, but it does get rather messy.

Stickers. Esmé generally loves stickers, but for some reason just putting them on a tray with paper wasn't very appealing to her. So I colored a few "background" cards, and that went over much better. We did an airport scene, an apple tree with apple stickers, and outer space with astronaut and alien stickers. She also liked putting stickers in her new journal, as well as drawing in the journal several times.

Cutting. I printed out a bunch of small apples for Esmé's lapbook, and had a few strips left over. So I stuck these in a cup with her scissors, and she enjoyed cutting the strips.

A Triangle. I took three craft sticks and put velcro on them so they could be connected in a triangle shape or in an "A" shape. She enjoyed these as long as I was helping her with them.

Inserts. Nothing "A" about this - I lost my creativity here. But it was one of Esmé's favorite activities - inserting toothpicks into the holes on a salt shaker. She pulled this down a number of times to do by herself.

Coloring Tray. I put an apple mug of crayons on a tray - yes - I'm looking for mugs to correspond to all the letters now! Then I had a coloring page for each theme during the week, so I could swap the pages out as they got colored. (I haven't given Esmé crayons much because she eats them, and she stayed true to form, but I tried to ignore it this week, and I think she's slowly getting over her fetish. She at least managed to do some coloring between the bites.)

Pouring. The last activity tray on her shelf was the pouring one - a small glass pitcher and a small glass. Not particularly "A"ish, but I'll be adding a sponge or towel to this in the future, so maybe those can be A themed! She loves this, it is always messy, and it is put on the shelf empty, so when she wants to use it, I take it to the kitchen and fill the pitcher. A little control that way...
We also had a couple of bins of toys. As I mentioned last week, I've cut down a lot on the toys, but she's definitely enjoying the ones she has more now. Not everything is "A" themed - I left out her doll and wagon. But I did include a bin of A stuff - angels, apples, airplanes. And here is the ark with animals...

And I left some other art stuff out for free art time, like her easel and white board. So I can be blessed with spontaneous designs such as this one. Doesn't it just feel like spring?

So there you have it - the A activity trays that worked for this 24-month-old! Next week we'll go through the A-theme adventures we did, too.
The Attached Mama's Alphabet Craft Collection
If you have a post or link related to "A" Activities for toddlers, link up here!


hikingmama said...

Thank you for sharing your "A" idea. I like that they are hands on fun activities vs paper pencil tasks. I was wondering if you are going to share more about your "A" lapbook. I will try some of these ideas with my 22 month old son.

Thank you!

ShEiLa said...

I have been meaning to say that I think Miss Esme is way advanced for her age. She does so many different things and I am impressed. I hope lots of parents are learning by your example.


The Adventures of Bear said...

I definitely like the posts where you show details of the things you are doing for your alphabet school. I am also curious about the lapbook. Perhaps you could do a post about it.

I have tried using letters as themes for my daughter, but it just doesn't work for us. Neither of us learn/work that way; nevertheless, you have great ideas and I use many of them (or variations) with my 20 month old. I especially like the "shake and sniff." I let my LO sniff all my spice jars (well, not all at once, of course) and she loves i

Did you get the three part cards somewhere on the internet?

Jenners said...

I'm sure you get a lot of hits because these are very informative and wonderful posts! People are probably so excited that they run off and forget to leave a comment!

Muthering Heights said...

I love your ideas!

CristyLynn said...

Y'all always get so much done in a week! Very fun to see, thanks for posting.

Christie O. said...

i really really love your letter weeks!!! i love your ideas!! like the velcro thing, that's brilliant!

Laski said...

All I'm going to say is you need to write a book. Yes, a book. There is nothing that I've found out there like this (and trust me, I look and look and look . . . ).

I print these posts out . . . I eat this stuff up. We've already tried several of your ideas! Tomorrow, I'm heading to the store for pic magnets. I would never, ever think of this!


just jamie said...

Wow. You are one good mama. What a sweet one you have. I love how engaged she is in your learning activities.

Carissa(GoodNCrazy) said...

these are great. and she's so cute!

my preschool has a similar 'sensory tub' and OH MY GOSH can you imagine 11 4yrolds around a large bin with rice in it!! Such a mess.. but the saints (as I call his teachers) totally don't mind cleaning it up day after day after day.. they prefer it to sand.. and my kid hits the rice box first thing each day... LOVES it..

I love your alphabet macaroni idea.. my kid would so groove on it, he's just now sounding out words and really moving in the reading direction!

Bran said...

I love your ABC post becuase you think outside the box and do more than just art, which is hard to post about and almost no one comments on it. I have the same thing happening on my blog, but I like to think that they use the ideas anyway. When I am stumped for an idea, I'm finding that your blog is one of the first places I visit.

Prasti said...

love the sensory tub. we have one mostly filled w/ styrofoam peanuts. there was a lot of squishing and tearing involved.

thanks for the ideas! i'll have to refer to these when i get to A.

Kori said...

I don't usually comment on the letter posts, but I read then faithfully and have implemented some of your ideas with OWen.

Debbie said...

Wow. That must take you a long time to plan and put together. It looks great.

Katie said...

What a great collection of A ideas. Thanks for sharing them.

Pamela said...

I was a slacker as a mom. I never did this kind of stuff.

I did teach them to sing, tho. Does that get me a pass? (:

Damselfly said...

Geez, I want to go to your "school" and do alphabet days too! It's amazing that Esme is doing all of those great things. She must be really advanced. Or maybe I am just being a lazy parent.

Carla said...

What very cool learning activities for your little one:)

Jen @ One Moms World said...

You come up with the neatest ideas. Thank you so much for sharing them with us :).

Anonymous said...

I don't always take the time to comment (bad lurker!), but I always do appreciate the alphabet posts. Between Bug's teeth and my late-term pregnancy exhaustion, we still haven't been able to implement any of these ideas, though we've tried, but I live in hope. Soon, soon!

Michelle said...

Just seeing your blog for the first time today --- love it!!! Keep up the posting please :)

Life is Good said...

Thank you for sharing all your ideas! I really like the felt trees. I'll have to give that a try!

Pamela said...

Wow! I love all the great ideas. I can't wait to try several of them. I think my favorite is the picture magnet and tearing out magazine pictures! Hadn't see that one before!

dani said...

j, i always love these posts!!! i bet many do stop by for ideas then excitedly leave before commenting to give your ideas a go:)
much love,
dani xxx

Kim said...

I love your blog! Mostly because your daughter is 1 month older than my youngest and it helps give me ideas. Although, my almost 2 yr old wouldn't focus as much as yours! And mine eats crayons too!! Just when I think she's over it I find an eaten crayon! *sigh*
And, although I've never commented before, I love your details!

Michelle @Flying Giggles said...

What great ideas. Love them! Keep them coming!

Kate & Gabe said...

I am absolutely one of your anonymous followers! :) I have been so inspired by your ideas and am in need of focus/direction on our days. So, with my daughter's 3 year old preschool ending tomorrow for the summer, and also having a 20 month old son, we are going to give your ABC approach a try! Thanks so much for all the incredible ideas!!!