Category: Toddlers
in Toddlers

Teaching Preschool Skills with Playdough

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As a mom and preschool teacher, I love to find new ways to teach foundational skills to my kids. I get especially excited when I find something that can be used to teach many different skills at once. That is why I love using Play-Doh so much! You can use to teach letters, numbers, counting, colors, shapes, sorting, and size!  Yes, it can be a little messy at times, but I have found that if you set a few simple ground rules, the kids do just fine with it. Download my poster Play-Doh Rules as a reminder for your kiddos!

 

Learning Through Play

Many of the examples I will give below are for teaching foundational skills. The key word here is teaching. Meaning you are interacting and playing with your child. At this age, teaching can be playing with, talking to, copying, and interacting with your toddler or preschooler. Kids LEARN through PLAY! This is something adults tend to forget. Their knowledge is expanding through every activity, game, or interaction they have each day. So, while you might feel like you are just playing, your child is LEARNING!! With that said, your child also learns a lot through free play. So, there are benefits with structured play as well as free play.

My daughter (2 1/2 years old) making a house with her Play-Doh.

 

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How to Teach Preschool Skills with Playdough

The first thing you need, obviously, is playdough. You can either buy Play-Doh which is available HERE, or you can make your own. I tried making pumpkin playdough once and it was a complete and utter failure. Not really something I want to try again, but maybe someday in the future! So, here are a few blogs that give some great playdough recipes! Just click on any of the links to visit their page!

 

Living Well Mom has a great, simple recipe for playdough in 10 minutes! She also has a gluten-free playdough recipe for those gluten-free kiddos!  You can find it HERE. If you click through her blog you can also find several playdough mats and other playdough resources to use with your toddler!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, if you are looking for something a little more complicated, but also super fun and creative, you should visit Sweet as Honey for her Supersoft Swirl Playdough Recipe! I’m loving the swirls of different colors and the glitter!

Of course, you can always find more playdough recipes on Pinterest!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Ways to Teach Letter Recognition

Lakeshore Uppercase Letter Stampers & Lakeshore Lowercase Letter Stampers-These are my favorite stamps for playdough! They are great for stamping letters in your name, sight words, alphabetical order, or just free choice! There are so many ways they can be used and the kids love them too!

 

My daughter tracing and naming the first letter in her name.

You can also work on letter recognition by rolling out the playdough and using it to form the letter. My daughter’s name starts with R so we like to practice “her letter” a lot. This is a great hands on way to show your child how the letters are formed as well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Ways to Teach Number Sense

Play-Doh Shape and Learn Numbers and counting These are great little number mats. Each number mat has that many shapes associated with the number. You and your child can form the number with playdough, while working on counting, shapes, and colors at the same time!

Counting

You can also practice counting objects with playdough. Simply making them into a shape and putting them on the table. I reccomend teaching your child to point to each object as he/she counts. When they get a little older, I would also teach them to move each object into a pile once they have counted it. This will help to prevent counting an object twice or counting too fast.

Ways to Teach Shapes and Colors

Teaching shapes and colors is so easy with playdough! You can manipulate the playdough into different shapes while talking about the colors. If you want something more structured, Play-Doh makes a shapes and colors play mat, but I don’t think it is completely necessary to have!

 

Some other skills you can teach using playdough:

  • size
  • colors
  • shapes
  • patterns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ways to Teach Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are important for children to be able to manipulate smaller objects such as buttons, zippers, and pencils. There are many ways to strengthen a child’s fine motor skills and playdough is definitely one of them. Here are some of my favorite fine motor playdough tools to use with my daughter and students.

Play-Doh Scissors– Playdough scissors are great for toddlers to practice cutting with no real danger. These playdough scissors are great, but were a little top heavy for little hands. They also have two small holes for the fingers, and I prefer the ones that have one larger hole so they can use more fingers for closing the scissors. I have linked to a pair that would work better HERE. I love these Play-Doh scissors for many reasons. Number one, the blades are not sharp like real scissors so they are child-safe. Number two they have a large hole and a small hole for the thumb. This teaches kids the correct way to hold scissors. Number three, it is a great fun way for kids to learn how to cut before using actual scissors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

School Smart Dough Extruders– These little extruders will keep your kiddos busy, while also strengthening their hand muscles. I have a set of these at school and my kids loved making new creations with them! You basically put the playdough in the tube and use the pusher to push it through the tube to make a shape. This is great for strengthening hand and finger muscles, which will help develop fine motor skills.

 

 

 

Even if your child is simply playing with playdough, there are many skills to be learned. So again, while it can be messy, your child is learning! Playing and learning go hand in hand for children. It won’t always be pretty, tidy, clean, or structured and that is okay! Have fun!

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in Toddlers, Uncategorized

Living from the Laundry Basket

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Laundry is going to be the death of me. Okay, so that might be a little bit dramatic, and very much a first world problem. But, I know some of you other moms can relate with me on this! I hope I’m not alone in this!

 

My family lives from the laundry basket! We do the laundry. As in, we wash the clothes. But getting it put away? That’s another story. Sometimes, it doesn’t get put away. We simply pick our clothes out of the pile each day deciding last minute if we have time to iron it. If not, it just goes back in the pile and we pick something else out. The pile is so BIG, so overwhelming. The thought of spending an entire hour folding clothes is enough to make us leave it for another day.

 

Here’s the other problem. Once you do the laundry, there is always more to be done. It is NEVER. ENDING. Why put away all the clothes when there will just be a new pile to put away the next day? Ahh!

 

Please Lord, encourage my husband to do the laundry today. I pray this prayer a lot, and I know he prays it about me too. When one of us finally does fold the laundry it’s like we deserve some kind of award or something. I folded the laundry today! What a great accomplishment. Oh, wait, there’s another load to be done now.

 

I will soon be a stay at home mom and I know the laundry duty will be on me. So, I decided I need to have a plan with laundry that will actually work for me! Here’s are my goals.

 

Let me just note here that I am very much of a Type B personality. I know you Type A people are laughing at me that I am not already doing this but hey, I’m trying my best!

Wash Less

We wash SO. MANY. CLOTHES. Pajamas? Put them in the wash. Towels? Wash them. Got a little dirt on your shirt? Take it off and wash it. Played outside today? Change your clothes for nap time and again when you wake up. Clothes on the floor for no reason? Put them in too.

No longer. My new plan here is to wash less. If my daughter wore something for half a day and it isn’t filthy? It’s going back in the drawer. If she tries on three outfits in the morning I will use it as an opportunity to teach her how to fold them and put them back in the drawer. My kids will wear the same pajamas more than once unless they get dirty. I am determined to WASH LESS.

Going along with this idea, I also want to have less. I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe which you can read more about over at Pinch of Yum.

 

Wash More Often

My next goal is to wash clothes more often. Instead of doing a huge load every week, I plan to do a small load every day or every other day. I know you may be thinking, what a waste of water! But, we probably have enough laundry to do a small load each day using less water in each load. This way I will have a smaller load to fold and put away. My hope is that with smaller loads, it won’t be as intimidating and I can fold it and put it away in a timely manner.

Which brings me to my next goal.

 

Fold and Put Away Immediately

My next goal is to fold and put away the clothes right as they get done in the dryer. Not only will this prevent the clothes from getting wrinkled but I won’t have to worry about setting aside an hour or more to fold clothes. I also won’t have to worry about growing piles of clothes laying around the house.

Change My Mindset

I know I will never truly enjoy doing laundry, but I also know I need to change my mindset. Instead of dreading laundry and putting it off as long as possible, I am looking at it as a challenge to get done quickly. If I keep with my schedule, it shouldn’t be as dreadful.

 

 

 

                    

 

 

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in Toddlers

Keeping a Clean and Organized House when you Have a Toddler

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If you have toddlers, chances are you’ve wondered how to keep your house clean. I know the feeling. You set out to clean the whole house top to bottom while the kids occupy themselves. While In reality, as you clean, your kids are pulling things out of cabinets, drawers, and tubs until you can’t see the floor anymore. The house ends up messier than it was when you started cleaning. All of the time you spent cleaning was time you could have been spending with your kids.

Yes, I know the feeling all too well. If you know me, you know my house is rarely completely clean and I am constantly feeling behind on housework. So, I decided to implement a few things around the house to help keep the mess under control. Some things I have already done, and some I plan to do in the near future so that I can stay sane!

 

 

Designate toys to one area of the house.

In our house, we have done our best to keep the toys in the basement. Obviously, toys make their way upstairs all of the time, but we do our best. This way, the rest of the house appears clean and organized. If people come over the mess is downstairs where nobody can see it.

 

Organize the toys into tubs and put them out of reach.

I did this last summer and it has made all the difference. I bought these tubs and these tubs and sorted all of the toys by category. I chose to put the dolls together, kitchen toys together, etc…but you could also organize them into tubs by putting a few dolls, a few kitchen toys, and a few balls in each tub so you can pull out a tub and have a variety of toys to play with. Then when the kids are done playing, they have to put one tub away before getting out another one. We keep our toy tubs in our storage room, but you could also put them on a shelf, or in the garage. The important thing is that they aren’t just strewn about the house. Since doing this, I have also noticed that my kids engage better. Rather than just pulling EVERYTHING out and not really playing, they have a few toys that they are really playing with.

 

         

Put locks on all of the cabinets and drawers.

This is one thing I plan on doing soon. I used to think it was pointless but as my kiddos get older, I realize how necessary they really are! We put locks on some cabinets, but not all of them. The kids know which ones they can get into on their own and do so frequently. Once they open one it only takes a few seconds to pull everything out onto the floor. It doesn’t usually take long to clean up but it is another thing to clean. Putting locks on the cabinets and drawers that the kids frequent can save you a lot of time.

 

     

Close the doors to the bedrooms in your house.

Another way to keep the kids from making messes unnecessarily is to close the doors to rooms in the house. This will keep them confined to certain areas of the house, thus keeping the mess confined as well.

Throw out broken toys and knick-knacks that have no purpose.

My biggest pet-peeve is finding little knick-knacks all around the house. Little parts that go to things, toys that don’t work or are broken, and things that are not in their place. Make sure everything has a place to go back to and if it doesn’t, get rid of it. It will also help the kids to know where to put things if everything has a place.

Keep the toys to a minimum.

Go through your kids toys during nap time. Give away or sell any toys that are no longer age appropriate for your kids. If you plan on having more kids, put them in storage for later. Less stuff=less mess. Also, if your kids are anything like mine, they are more fascinated by the rocks in the backyard than they are by toys.

Make a cleaning schedule.

Make a nap time cleaning schedule. Pick one thing to clean each day while the kids nap and write it down. It might look different each week, but having a plan will save you having to think of what needs to be done. There might be things you need to do each day like washing dishes. Figure out the best time to do these tasks and make a habit of doing it at the same time each day.

Clean up after each play time.

Start now teaching your kids to clean up each time to transition to something new. After doing this every day, it will become more of a habit. Of course as toddlers they won’t be the best at it, but at least you are in the routine of doing it and they are learning it as well. Cleaning up small messes throughout the day is much easier than taking an hour to clean up everything at the end of the day.

 

Keep the kids occupied.

If you do plan to do any cleaning while the kids are awake, give them something to play with that will keep their attention for a while. My go-to is Legos. My daughter sits at the kitchen table and plays with them so the mess is mostly contained. Then I have a good 30 minutes to clean if I need to.

Do a quick clean each night.

After the kids go to bed, take 30 minutes to power clean the house. Think about what needs to be done the most and get it done. Don’t worry about cleaning the entire house at this time. Just enough that you won’t have anxiety about it in the morning.

 

Most of all, you are making precious memories by playing with your children. Don’t let your anxiety about a messy house get in the way of that. Hopefully these tips will give you more time with your kids and less time cleaning. Remember that this is just a phase of life. A messy house isn’t the worst thing.  Soon, there won’t be toys to pick up anymore. While you might feel like you are going insane right now, someday you’ll miss this phase of life. Enjoy it while you can and try not to worry about the state of your house.

Other products I love and/or want:

   

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