I’m so excited to be starting a series here on the blog called Toddler Tips. Guys, in no way on the planet am I claiming to be an expert at toddler life because there are days I grab a second cup of coffee and let Elouise watch Elena and the Secret of Avalor for the hundredth time just to stay sane. However, I’ve learned a lot of practical tools and ideas in my years as an early childhood educator, and in order to motivate myself to do them in my own home, I’m going to be sharing them with you. I won’t promise that your child will become a sophisticated, well mannered, baby genius if you try these things, but you will probably have some fun and be pleasantly surprised with what your brilliant toddler can learn.
If you didn’t know already, there are legitimate state standards, each state’s might be a little different, that list the set of skills your child should have before entering Kindergarten. You might look at it and want to throw up and you might see what is on it and laugh because your child has been doing most of those things for a while. Either way, check ’em out because I am adhere to the mindset that when you know better you do better. So if you haven’t, go skim the ones for your state.
Okay, now that you’re back, I’m going to say that I am a firm believer in experiential learning. That’s a fancy teacher-y way of saying that when you create a meaningful experience for a child they are going to actually learn in a deeper way that creates an understanding of a skill of concept and not just the ability to repeat or memorize. The early childhood years especially are ALL about exploration and play. That’s not to say there should be no structure, but rather that the way they learn things should almost feel like a game. Also, let your child take the lead as you try each activity. There may be some they love and others they hate and the beauty of having five activities is that you get to discover what sort of learner your child is. Cultivate that style rather than forcing them to do a style that they seem uninterested in.
So, now that I’ve chatted your ear off about all of my nerdy teacher ideas, here are the 5 super easy activities I did this morning with Elouise to help her develop letter recognition. I did this all with the help of a handy dandy alphabet puzzle I scored in the Target dollar spot, but if you need one I found a few awesome ones and linked them at the bottom of the post with a few other fun tools.
5 Easy Letter Recognition Activities
1. What letter is this?: Pick up a letter and ask your child if they know what letter it is and if they don’t know tell them! Then help your child find its place in the puzzle.
2. Trace and Draw the letter: Grab a piece of paper and a crayon, a whiteboard, chalkboard, or fancy tracing book. Use what you have or check out the fun options I linked below. Since Elouise is pretty little we went with the tracing route but you can have an older child also write it themselves! When your child is tracing encourage them to trace it just the way YOU would write it. For example if it’s a capital “A” start from the bottom on the left then down on the right and then crossing the middle. (PS please encourage your child to hold the crayon properly, it sounds silly but it’s a TOUGH habit to break and will make their first year of school so much easier!)
3. Letter Scavenger Hunt: look for the letter in books, magazines, or even around the house. You can even continue this activity when you are out and about to keep encouraging letter recognition and keep a bored toddler busy while you stroll through Target.
4. Letter Sounds: Keep this basic and don’t expect too much for a younger toddler, but I like to sing a song that I carried over from my classroom. “A says “a” a says “a”, every letter makes a sound and A says “a”.” It doesn’t have to be sung to any particular tune but the way I sing is pretty similar to Farmer in the Dell. Repeat this with each letter replacing the appropriate sound in. You can even talk about familiar words that start with the sound or if you know anyone whose name starts with this letter!
5. Letter Sort: Is it swirly, straight, is it tall or round? Chat about what the letter looks like. Make piles together of letters that are similar, like O, G, and C or I, T, and L. You can get creative with this part and sort based on any attributes you want.
So there you have it! I know they are basic, but these simple activities will lay the foundation for reading in the next few years. I will be posting all sorts of toddler tips over here on my blog, but let me know what you want to hear. More teaching ideas, snack ideas, behavior modification, etc. Leave them in a comment here or on my Instagram!
Hey girl, go ahead and save me to your favorite Pinterest board: