My oldest, "Boogie", will be 2 in October. I spend a lot of time nursing my younger boy, "Bun", right now because he is 7 weeks old. This past weekend I decided that it was a good age to start some kind of structured learning with Boogie. Other moms with multiple children can correct me if I am wrong, but I think life is actually easier if you take the time to plan ahead and do educational things as opposed to each day being a free-for-all between meals and sleeping. Yes, it takes more work, time, discipline (mom and child), and supervision, but the three of us are happy when Boog is sitting quietly on the couch doing something I prepared for him while I nurse Bun.
Over the past week I have written lists and scavenged or bought supplies to create some learning tools. I cleaned out a cabinet to store things in the kitchen for easy access. I wanted to introduce one activity at a time but Boogie was "helping" me with the cleaning and organizing and got interested, so we have tried several activities over the past couple days.
I started with the pipe cleaner color sort because we already had all the materials on hand. I found this through an awesome site called 1+1+1=1 but it was originally posted on this site.
* Costco parmesan cheese container
* 30 colored pipe cleaners- 6 different colors, 5 of each color
* 6 hole punch reinforcement stickers
* 6 colored sharpies that match your pipe cleaners
* This is a no brainer, but for the sake of being thorough, make sure the parmesan cheese container is really clean and dry then take off the label so your child can see what's inside.
* Find 6 different colored pipe cleaners and cut them to the size of your container.
* Use sharpies that are the same colors as the pipe cleaners and color each of your hole punch reinforcement stickers a different color, then put one on each of the 6 holes on the cover of the container. I chose the 6 most common bright colors- red, blue, yellow, green, orange and purple.
This tool teaches colors, counting, fine motor skills and hand eye coordination.
You can use different colors, or a different type of container (pringles or sprinkles would work). You could use straws instead of pipe cleaners if you have a shorter container or are concerned about the pipe cleaners being too sharp at the ends.
Plan in action:
Boogie watched me (and my mom's 9 year old neighbor who was over for the day) put the pipe cleaners in, one at a time, for a few minutes then he tried. His favorite thing to do is take the top off, dump them all out, then try to squish them all back in at once. I tried guiding him, saying things like "let's put the blue one in the blue hole." Sometimes he got it and sometimes he didn't. The pipe cleaners got very bent and curled but that was part of the fun for him. I think the important thing, at his age, is to give him guidance but also just let him explore different materials and textures. If I continue to show him the "right" way to do it, eventually he will catch on. We did some counting as I was re-straightening the pipe cleaners when he wanted to put them in the holes. Whenever he was just holding one, I would tell him what the color was.
I consider this activity a success because Boogie had a lot of fun and it kept him busy, quiet, and happy.