I have had a few emails from some wonderful followers asking about monthly themes and planning. I thought I would write a post about what works for me and how I go about planning our activities.
First I would like to say that although I try to categorize my activities with a theme, I always always always follow Biscuit's lead. If I decide to concentrate on a theme such as "Autumn" or "Ocean Life" and she is not 100% on board, we switch gears. No sweat, no big deal.
The themes are more for my planning and organization. I try as best I can to go with Biscuit's current interests. For example over the summer she was super interested in fish, so we did an Ocean Life theme. We read countless books about fish and ocean creatures, we learned fun songs, created amazing ocean themed art work, etc. However last month I chose the theme "Our Bodies" and she wasn't really into it. So we moved on! You win some, you lose some.
Our "daily" routine is the same every day. We have one or two play dates each week, Biscuit needs to socialize! Regardless of our plans we always have an hour of play time together after breakfast, this is my favorite part of the day!! After our play time we do a morning activity. This is usually an art project or baking/making something together in the kitchen. Some mornings our "activity" is simply gathering up whatever supplies she wants and making a nice big mess! Either way it is our time together to play and learn something new!
Through our play time each day we talk about colors, shapes, numbers, and letters. You all know the drill! When we play tea party we count the tea cups, we paint and we talk about the colors, we play with alphabet blocks and say the letters, so on and so forth. I am a firm believer in learning through play, children learn "by doing" and play is a child's work. You will never catch my daughter with a worksheet or a stack of flashcards to memorize. That's not to say that your little one will not benefit from flash cards or worksheets, it is just not how I was trained in early childhood education.
I will say that Biscuit is two and she can recognize every letter of the alphabet, spell her name, she can count to 20 and she can recognize the numbers 1 - 10. She knows all of her shapes and she will even go as far as to tell me the oatmeal container is a "cylinder" and a ball is a "sphere." Colors are not an issue as she often requests her "turquoise" hair bow. I think we have done just fine sans worksheets and flash cards! .
Now onto the "planning." Truly, I simply do what will work best for our family and our schedule.
Every day there are two things that I always make time for ~ Process Art and Outdoor Play. Biscuit has complete access to her art supplies. Her paint is in her easel at all times! Paper, crayons, stickers, markers, glue and glitter are all at her level as well. She spends time painting and drawing every day!
Outdoor play is so important for children, as you all know. We get outside for at least twenty minutes each day as long as the weather cooperates.
Things I always plan ahead of time ~
A sensory bin for each week. This is usually in our kitchen or her playroom depending on what's in the bin. Some examples of Biscuit's sensory bins include cloud dough, rainbow rice, dried beans, etc. She loves her sensory bins and looks forward to seeing her new one each week!!
"Busy bins" for the week. Sometimes they stay the same and some weeks I'll swap them out! For more on "busy bins" click here!
I rotate the books in her playroom each month according to our theme. This month is LOVE, so her book nook is full of Valentine's Day books and books about family and love. Keep in mind she has TONS of books in her bedroom, only the books in her playroom are rotated with the theme. She would keel over if Fancy Nancy was missing from the bookshelf in her bedroom!
I keep track of it all by using a simple template that I used for preschool lesson planning. Nothing too fancy! There are great FREE templates all over the internet.
Planning is important when it comes to keeping your little one busy and happy. However I think it is most important to follow your child. If you have an activity planned and your munchkin would rather read books all morning ~ snuggle up and read!
I hope this helps shed some light on how things work here in the B household. Again this is what works for us, what works for you and your little one may be different. I wish I had some amazing technique but I don't! What I do is plain and simple, I observe my child and plan according to her needs and interests. If you have any additional questions leave a comment or shoot me an email.
Happy Playing & Exploring!!