Monday, July 9, 2012

Toddler Activity- Sorting cups {Guest post}

Hello! I'm Heather. Once a full-time advertising professional from Chicago, I now reside in Northern California and work from home as a Social Media Manager. I've been married to Matt for 7 years, and we have a son Brady (3) and another little boy on the way (only 3 weeks to go!!) I created our family blog, Everything Eatherton, in 2008 to chronicle my first pregnancy... but now it keeps our family updated on “all things Eatherton” after our big move in 2010. Last year, I started the blog Mama Dish with 6 of my high school friends, as a way to keep in touch (we live in 3 different states and in 3 different countries!) and to share all the different Mama tips and tales we would on a regular basis if we all lived in one place. I hope you'll come by for a visit and see what we're serving up!

I'm excited to be a guest blogger on Leilaland today because I have known Jen for over 20 years (oh boy, did I just age us?!) We lost touch for awhile after college, but our paths crossed again a few years ago over... wait for it... blogging!! It's been wonderful to reconnect with an old friend and to have so much in common after so many years. Thanks Jen for having me!

Because Jen likes to post suggestions for fun Toddler Art/Activities, I thought I would share a recent learning activity I "created" the other day when I needed Brady to occupy himself for a few minutes while I responded to some emails (oh the life of a WAHM!) I didn't have time to set up for/clean up after a messy art project, but I wanted him to spend the time doing something constructive instead of {ahem} watching more TV. 

While wracking my brain for a quick solution, I remembered that when I was grocery shopping last week, I came across a bag full of mini letters and numbers in the dollar bins at Safeway (I know, I didn't know they had these bins, but they do!) I put them in my cart thinking, "I'm sure I can put these to good use at some point". Brady knows his letters and numbers, but he can get confused sometimes so I like him to practice, and I'm always looking for new ways to keep him interested.

So I decided to pull out the foam letters/numbers, as well as 10 small plastic snack containers. I lined up the cups into two rows and placed one number (0-9) at the bottom of each cup. Then I gave him the remaining numbers in a pile and told him to sort them into the correct cups, saying the number out loud each time he dropped one. Sounds silly, I know, but he really liked doing it. And the repetition is good for his memory! Here is how it went down...

{I apologize for the quality of the photos, they were taken with my phone. In bad kitchen lighting.}

The start of the "project"

Brady sorting his numbers

The letters were a bit of a challenge because I don't have 26 cups. So instead, I just lined up individual letters along a piece of construction paper and had him place the letters in a stack.

He liked doing this so much that he asked, "what else can we play with?" I had some old cut outs of shapes that I made from construction paper lying around, so we did those next.

At this point, he had enough, but we ended up staying busy for about 30 minutes learning and playing together. I was able to step away for a few minutes to take care of some things I needed to do, and he was able to continue on without me. He was really proud when he finished his piles.

What I like most about this activity is that it's so simple. You can use it to teach something for the first time or to reinforce a variety of topics: numbers, letters, shapes, colors, textures, animals... anything. And you can use whatever you already have lying around the house-- cups, buttons, beads, plastic characters, cut outs made from construction paper, stickers, etc. Or, next time you're out and about and come across little "gems" in the dollar bins, think about how you can incorporate them into this easy learning activity with your little one.

What super-simple activities have you "created" to help keep your toddlers busy? What other topics would you suggest that we learn/explore with our cups?
Thanks Heather!  Has it really been over 20 years?  That is a scary thought.

Your toddler activity ideas are exactly the kinds of things I did with my pre-K students last year.  I am impressed with Brady's skills.  I know he has a few years, but his Kindergarten teacher is going to LOVE him!

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