As a mom (and teacher), I strive everyday to engage, nurture, and expand the mind of my little one.
Here you will find the books, music, and activities most useful to me in my endeavors.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Placemat Lesson

I've been trying to use my toddler's afternoon snack time as a learning time ... rather than giving into her requests for Elmo or George. I also find that she eats healthier if we are engaged in an activity together rather than plopped in front of the tube. If I blog about it, I am more likely to form a habit ... and perhaps it will inspire your own placemat lessons :)

Today, I pulled out a large sheet of paper (like the one I used in this 5-minute Activity) and the crayons and a sheet of stickers.

We started with a game of take-a-bite, stick-a-sticker. I asked her the name of the animal as she put it on the placemat.

Then I picked up a crayon and asked her to watch me draw. After each shape (circle, triangle, square), I asked her to tell me the shape as I colored it in and then asked her the color.

Next, we counted the number of carrots on her plate, and I asked her to take two bites (with hummus - yum).

Back to the paper, I wrote the letters of her name - one at a time - while she ate her Veggie Booty and told me the letters. I asked her, "What does that spell?" Mainly because I want her to start understanding that letters work together to spell words. Not because I think she can actually read! But she did recognize the letters of her name - thanks to the N-A-T-A-L-I-E song that I've been singing to her for two years.

Next, I attempted to sketch a tree ... and asked that she watch me while I drew. Before I even made the "leaves," she told me that I was drawing a tree ... the trunk gave it away, apparently. Then I asked her to name an animal that lives in a tree. She answered, "Owl. Hooo. Hooo." So I drew a (very lame) owl. We repeated this question-and-answer until we had three animals total: owl, bird, squirrel.

To make sure that "math" was covered in my little lesson, I wrote the numbers 1 - 4 ... one at a time ... and asked Natalie to tell me the number. To make a visual connection, I drew the appropriate number of dots beneath the number, and she counted them - with some accuracy. Here's a little tactile strategy thrown in; I asked Natalie to take 2 pieces of Veggie Booty out of her bowl and put them next to the number 2. She ate one before it reached the paper :)

To wrap-up, I pulled her attention back to the letters of her name and asked her to point to a letter when I said it ... "Point to the T."

I often rely on this format of shapes, letters, numbers, and animals. The questioning is limitless. But again, I think the visual and tactile components are just as important as the verbal discussion ... that's the teacher in me :)


Chi-town momma said...

Geez, you are such a teacher! Benjamin and I just snack. You offer up some great ideas, but I can totally see B just looking at me like, "Hey lady, can you stop all the chatter and just let me enjoy my food? Oh and hand over that car so I can drive it around while I eat!" I need to find another time in our day to get some of these ideas worked in!

Deann said...

I love your ideas! Wish I had a bit more of your "teacher" brain in my head. I love all this stuff you're writing about! Kudos for a fantastic job on the site! :-)