I used to walk the halls of the elementary school I taught in and hear the kindergarteners sing. And I would cringe. I just couldn't believe all that repetition and singing and basic learning, while my BIG fourth-graders were down another hall learning bigger, more "important" things like multiplication and reading chapter books.
Don't you just want to slap that version of myself? I do. I can even remember telling my principal to NEVER move me to the kindergarten class. EVER.
And guess what I do now?! I stay at home with my toddlers and we sing and do repetitive things and learn basic things ALL day long. And I like it. I have learned how essential and important and wonderful those seemingly "simple" activities are for little ones. We embrace this toddler stage as much as possible lately! It's also incredibly challenging and hard to keep both girls learning and active at the same time most days. I thought I'd share a few things we've done lately that have totally worked.
First up are these easy, colorful thank-you notes. The girls received so many little Easter basket treats I wanted to give a proper thank-you. I had them paint on plain paper and after the paint was dry I cut out rectangles from the paper and taped it onto an old vintage book page to create a thank-you card!
(sometimes during "learning" time you find things like this....someone let their animal crackers go for a swim in my cold coffee. )
We also made world's easiest play dough. Ever. I wanted to make the fancy kind where you color little sections of dough but we didn't have the right ingredients (no salt). So instead we mixed one cup of flour with a few drops of blue food coloring and some dish soap. I don't know how much dish soap, I just kept adding it until the mixture was a bit moist and crumbly. Then we kneaded the mixture of dough and it made a great play dough! Both girls got quite a bit of use out of this.
While we were mixing up the play dough Betsy Grace took every. single. spice out of the spice drawer! And put the oven mitt on. I admit, it looked adorable and funny and I was so relieved she wasn't eating something she shouldn't I let her play.
The real life truth is Anna Ruth played with the play dough for about five minutes and said she was done. (I mean, seriously!?) I didn't let this discourage me though, I just pulled out another quick but fun activity. I set out a bottle of glue (please, please tell me you let your kiddos use glue!), an empty egg carton with kitchen ingredients (like dried barley, rice, popcorn kernels) and a few paper plates.
This activity was a winner with Anna! She sat and designed her art on the plate for the longest time.
We even had some lovely background music while she created!
Having toddlers (and two of them at that!) is a blessing, hard work, challenging, fun, surprising, and exhausting. But it is SO worth it to try activities and create fun pockets of time and imagination for our children! If it doesn't work or it's too messy, try anyway. Take a breather and try again the next day! We are creating the future.