*WARNING* This post is unashamedly long.
Welcome back! Here I’m going to share my favorite Toddler Teaching Resources and Tools. I’m a bit picky in my teaching supplies. These are the qualifications:
1) They must be educational and fun for both of us (Mom and Toddler)
2) They can’t take up a lot of space (We have a small home without a lot of storage space)
3) They can’t be terribly messy. (I know a lot of hands-on sensory things are in vogue nowadays, but for the good morale of my home, I like to keep messy things OUTSIDE)
So without further ado…
(Language Arts – GOALS)
Be able to name all capital and lowercase letters
Know letter sounds
Develop a Love of Reading
If I could pick our most effective resource, it would be the Leapfrog Letter factory DVD (they also have it available on Netflix). Gabriel learned all his capital letters and letter sounds practically on his own with this one before he turned two. They also have the Word Factory which he likes to watch, about early word formation, but I think it’s a bit beyond him yet.
We also enjoyed Dr. Seuss’ ABC book. It’s catchy and fun to read. One of my favorites.
We used this Melissa & Doug letter puzzle to learn our lowercase letters.
And of course, I read to him daily. Look back to Part 3 of this series to see what we do for that.
(History – GOALS)
Become familiar with the foundational Bible stories (Creation, Noah, Jonah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Jesus’ birth and death/resurrection)
As I mentioned earlier, my favorite Bible story series for teaching toddlers is the Arch Book Series. I think they’re recommended for ages 5+, but Gabriel loves them. It’s like reading a Dr. Seuss book (in rhyming rhythm) but with Bible stories. They have tons of them (like, 300?) and include some of the less common stories as well (Like Ezekiel and the dried bones, the story of Zerubbabel, etc)
I found this Heroes of the Bible DVD in the $5 bin at Wal-Mart and decided to try it out. I wasn’t hopeful at first, since it was so cheap, but I love, love, LOVE it. My copy includes 12 different stories, about 50 minutes each, and including ALL of the Bible story’s details. Seriously, it leaves nothing out. For example, in the story of Samson, it doesn’t just start with him meeting Delilah like most stories do. It actually starts back when he finds his first Philistine girlfriend, goes through the wedding feast and her being given to another man, shows him burning the fields with torches on fox tails, etc. Definitely not the sugar-coated Bible story you usually find. I tried to find it online for you, but apparently it’s a Wal-Mart special to sell all 12 stories in one DVD. Everywhere else, it’s $5 per story.
(I should note that although I love the details and especially the OT stories, the Jesus voice/animation is a bit wussy and over-gentle. In fact, I’ve stopped showing Gabriel the Jesus episodes because it annoys me that he’s portrayed in such a… dare I say, effeminate manner. I almost expect him to say “please and thank-you” while he kicks out the greedy sellers in the temple). But as far as the other stories are concerned, they’re great.
Another hands-on tool I like to use is this felt book that Gabriel can arrange the characters and major props in. It also makes a great quiet church toy. You can find it on amazon.
(Music – GOALS)
Introduce the love of Music (and listen to good stuff around the house regularly!)
Learn the liturgical (always repeated) songs we sing every Sunday
My favorite albums right now are:
Hide ‘em In Your Heart Volumes 1 & 2 by Steve Green (great, often used Bible verses set to non-annoying music)
Action Bible Songs (DVD or CD) – In moderation… These songs get on my nerves a bit more quickly. They’re more ‘Sunday School’ songs than Bible verses, but Gabriel still likes them.
Jamie Soles – Probably better for a bit older of an age group, but I plan on using these A LOT. This guy has his Bible stuff down and conveys it through the music well. Ever thought that memorizing all the Kings of Israel would be impossible? Not anymore. These songs are fun to listen to for kids and adults as well, and I find myself learning a lot with them.
Learn the names of basic colors
Learn the names of common shapes
Beginning Pen Control
Learn to color between the lines
Books on Colors (I have several, but not a particular one I’ve fallen in love with)
Crayons & Coloring Books
Chalk on the front porch
Gabriel learned a lot of his Shapes & Colors with this DVD:
And we learned shapes together with these hands-on puzzles by Melissa & Doug…
And I LOVE these Priddy books. They’re nicely dry erase too, so we can keep using them over and over again.
(Science – GOALS))
Common Animals and their Sounds
Basic habitats (farm, jungle, desert)
Basic Plant info (flowers, grass, trees, needing water and sunshine)
Human growth concepts (starting in Mommy’s tummy, growing from baby to child to adult)
What Your Preschooler Needs to Know actually has a really good Science section for toddlers, although I’m a bit unenthusiastic about the rest of the book.
The rest of our science goals we just talk about when we’re outside or the subject comes up. I’m still looking for something to teach the habitat thing, though.
(Math – GOALS)
Be Able to Count to 10
Recognize numbers 1-10
Count fingers or objects in a row
Again, our Leapfrog DVD worked wonders for us here. We used Numbers Ahoy (available on Netflix) and Gabriel loved it.
Leapfrog Math Circus is also good, but is a bit more advanced and includes things like addition and subtraction which still goes completely over his head.
For more hands-on tools, we use Lauri Numbers & Pegs (good for counting, sorting by color, and swordfighting)
And these Lauri number puzzles (which is good for teaching the actual numbers visually)
And these Slide & Learn Cards (which helps connect the counting of objects to the visual number)
(Faith – GOALS)
Memorize The Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 23, and commonly used verses (a joyful heart is good medicine, children obey your parents in the Lord, etc)
Have a basic understanding of baptism and communion
Learn to sit through church quietly
The Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23 we’ve been saying together at bedtime. As for the other verses, we say them together as we have need throughout the day.
We practice our Church’s Children’s Catechism every day. He gets an M&M each time he says his answers, so he always looks forward to them.
Hide ‘em In Your Heart CDs for Scripture set to Music (see above)
We explain things in church as they happen (communion, baptism, etc), but I’ll occasionally talk about them at home too
I plan to write a whole post someday about teaching your toddler to sit through church, so stay tuned for that.
(Life Skills – GOALS)
Be Potty-Trained during awake periods
Be able to play alone in bedroom for ½ hr
Excuse himself from the table before leaving
Bring dishes to the side of the sink
Speak clearly without whining even when frustrated
Treat the baby (and pets) gently
Help with basic house chores or meal prep
Yes sir/Yes mam’s and obeying quickly
Staying in his toddler bed until Mom comes to get him
Straighten the blanket on his bed after waking
Although these are skills that are usually taught throughout the day, I’ve been known to practice specific things even when it’s not the time for them.
A game I learned from a book written by the Duggars is the Obeying Game:
She’ll give specific commands, some just for fun (jump up and down three times) and some real jobs (pick up all your mega blocks). The child should then say “Yes, mam!” really loud and obey quickly. If this is done, then they get an M&M.
Gabriel has loved this game, and it really has helped him obey better throughout the day, even when no M&Ms are given. At the very least, you as the Mom, now know what they’re capable of. After all, if they suddenly know how to pick up their toys when candy is given but not at other times, then you know you’re dealing with a discipline issue and not a maturity one.
Similar games can be played achieving other skills, such as making his bed or taking dishes to the sink.
How about you? What is your family’s favorite toddler resources or teaching tools?