Right before I went back to work, I started panicking that Max was becoming a little too addicted to tv- which was directly related to my need to nurse a baby around the clock. So when said baby needed to eat, I'd flip on the tv which would at least keep Max in my sight. Perfection. Or so I thought, until it led to addiction!
So I did what any OCD/organization freak/ type A mother would do-- I began to panic and google and search pinterest... I needed some hands-on, fun, learning, imagination required, toddler development activities that would also keep my tot in eyeshot. And this is what we came up with:
The beans sensory box: Max loves it (and Gabe does too!) And his newest fun thing to do with the beans is hide golf balls in them and have us find them. He pours, he scoops, he dumps, etc... And yes, I am those things I mentioned above (OCD, type, organized) but when I comes to the beans all over the floor, I choose to look the other way... for at least 20 minutes... and then I begin crawling around like the nut that I am, collecting all the beans and dumping them back in the bucket, before I start twitching.
For learning colors we have three options:
1) Paint swatches- picked up at my local wal-mart-- I have 3-4 different shades of the basic colors-- and at this point Max understands that there are many variations to each color and he gets his colors right 99.9999% of the time
2) Pom pom balls and ice cube trays- these can be sorted by color, counted, arranged, and thrown-- lots of fun had by all!
3) M&M's- Max's favorite things in the world- and Chad had the fantastic idea of using them to play/ teach colors, so now Max affectionately calls them colors. He'll tell you what color he wants for consumption.
For Creativity and Art we have an art box:
Max has his own set of crayons, his own set of toddler scissors that pop back open after you squeeze them, stickers, and I cut up smaller squares of construction paper so he can make smaller creations that are perfect for his little hands. For some reason, he does much better with a smaller piece of paper when he's creating then when I give him a full-size-- maybe it's overwhelming?! Gabe has a HUGE craft box and spends lot of time creating, so Max particularly likes to get out his when Gabe is in artist mode as well. And for some reason, he always likes to cut when I'm cooking dinner-- and he wants to me "Look Mom" after each snip!
(Love that chubby toddler had making it's way into my picture :) )
For the Alphabet we have several options as well:
1) Alphabet cards the Reed gave Max for his birthday- as of right now, Max prefers to talk about the objects on the cards!
2) We have the letters leap frog dealio for the fridge- Max got this for his first birthday and we've kept it (HIGH) on the fridge since... I keep it was above his level because until recently, he thought they were for knocking all over the floor and driving his mother crazy. But now, as he's shown an interest in the letters and their sounds, I've gotten him a magnetic dry erase board and Crayola dry erase crayons.
3) For now, we use the alphabet that's on our letter tiles, but I want to make a big sheet of all the letters- then we throw a bean bag/ hacky sack and whatever letter it lands on is the letter we talk about. This is obviously an activity that involves me and he can't really do this alone.
4) Lastly, I found a website that has a toddler friendly scripture memory verse for every letter and I made flash cards for each one. I'm not sure of a "fair" time table, but with the way he's memorizing every song that comes out of my mouth, I know it's possible for him to memorize these 26 verse rather quickly as well, while learning his letters.
And although it does set off my control freak/ cleanliness alarm from time to time, these things are all kept in buckets at Max's level that he can pull one out when/ if he so chooses... well except for the M&M's because they are now used for potty training rewards. He can do free play and create as he sees fit and I also pull out one activity in the mornings while Jack is sleeping, and work through it/ play with Max. And in the very short time that we've had these things going (less than 8 weeks), the things he has learned and caught onto is UNBELIEVABLE! I really do love toddler brains, especially Max's!
Here's to more learning, and growing, and creating, and imagining!