Guest Post

Guest posts from fellow bloggers

Guest Post: Fun Ideas for Teaching Your Toddler

As a homeschooling mom, I am always on the lookout for ways to incorporate learning into our daily activities (or at least I try my darndest to!). I believe that learning should be a lifelong process, not limited to the four corners of a classroom (or, in the case of our homeschool, the four corners of our bedroom).

Over the almost six years that I’ve been a parent, I’ve also realized that kids learn best when (a) they’re having fun; (b) they’re being taught by someone whom they know loves them; and (c) there’s always a bit of singing or music involved.

I’ve also learned that each child is “wired” to learn differently and that each child will learn at his or her own pace, though, of course, it helps if we turn them in the right direction or give them the tools they need for learning.

When it comes to the toddler stage, one can actually teach your kid in oh-so-many ways — without her realizing that you’re already having “lessons!” You’ll actually probably be amazed at how she will retain what she learns and how quickly she’ll learn it!

To get the ball rolling, here are a few fun ideas you can use to teach your little one (and remember, as your child’s parent, you are actually his first teacher — after all, who taught him to nurse {or drink from a bottle, if he’s bottle-fed}; play; talk; walk; sleep through the night; etc.?):

 

  1. Sing silly nursery rhymes and children’s songs.

 

This is one of my all-time favorites and is always a hit with my kids (now aged five and three). Singing or reciting nursery rhymes (you can’t go wrong with Mother Goose) is a fun way for our kids to learn different elements of language and to explore using their imaginations. We can even introduce simple Geography concepts to them, or other “subjects” like Science and Math.

 

For example, with the nursery rhyme “London Bridge Is Falling Down,” you can tell your little one: “You know, London is in another country, baby. It’s in the United Kingdom.” Or, “You know why the bridge fell down, honey? Because of gravity!” You could even inject a little lesson on being responsible; i.e. when something gets broken (London Bridge falling down), we can find ways to fix it (Build it up with iron bars). Then, you can just leave it at that, and wait for your toddler to be a bit older to explain things in more detail.

 

By introducing simple concepts like these early on, we are laying the foundation for more “formal” lessons later in our kids’ lives.

 

  1. Go for a “nature walk.”

 

Toddlerhood is the age of exploration and most of the kids I know love to explore nature! Even if you don’t live in a place where you can go for a “nature walk,” you should be able to find one nearby, e.g. the local park; a nearby field; etc. You may even want to visit the local zoo or wildlife park (though you should also gauge if your kid will enjoy the trip, as some kids may be a bit scared of animals).

 

Communing with nature is a fun, frugal way for little kids to learn — point out the different shapes of leaves; talk about the colors that they see; try to see how different creatures move differently. Oftentimes, you don’t have to do much to teach your child — just let her explore her surroundings and it would already be a lesson in itself!

 

  1. Make a mini-me.

 

We all probably know the children’s songs “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” or “My Toes, My Knees, My Shoulders, My Head.” Well, here’s a fun way to reinforce what our little ones can learn from those songs: Make a mini-me!

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Get a big piece of cardboard or other type of paper. It should be large enough for your toddler to lie down on.

 

  1. Ask your toddler to lie down on the paper and then trace the outline of her body using a pencil — voila! Now you have a “mini-me” of your little one!

 

  1. Ask your toddler to stand up and help you “design” her mini-me. She won’t be able to draw yet, but you could draw her body parts for her and ask for her “help” as to which part goes where.

 

For example: Point to the head part of the drawing and ask, “What goes here, sweetie?” Encourage her to point to the different parts of her own body as you go along.

 

  1. Play different versions of “peek-a-boo.”

 

Being a toddler can be a liberating yet frightening time for our children. This is the time when they discover that they can move about more independently and when they want to explore their surroundings. However, this new found independence can be a bit scary, as this means moving away from the safety of Mama’s arms or lap.

 

Also, your little one may get upset when you “disappear” for short periods of time (like when you need to go to the loo — which we all need to do at one point or another, LOL!) and for longer periods, too (like when you need to go to work, if you work outside the home).

 

To avoid this, try playing the following versions of peek-a-boo, to teach your child about object permanence:

 

  1. Hide one of her favorite toys or books and ask her to look for it.
  2. Ask her to hide one of her favorite toys or books and “look” for it with her.
  3. Hide yourself behind a piece of furniture and then pop up and say, “Peek-a-boo!” Encourage your toddler to do the same.
  4. Play peek-a-boo with other members of the family, especially whoever will be caring for your child whenever you are not around.

 

These are just a FEW of the many, many things one can do to teach our toddlers. Don’t forget though, above all these, we need to reinforce to our little ones that they are special and one-of-a-kind and deeply, greatly loved. No amount of formal and informal lessons can measure up to teaching our children to love themselves and to love others.

Tina Santiago-Rodriguez is a wife and homeschool mom by vocation, a licensed physiotherapist by education and the managing editor of an inspirational children’s magazine by profession. She also writes for a number of Philippine and foreign publications on a wide range of topics, including parenting, homeschooling and financial literacy for families. Prior to discovering her “mission” as a writer upon their return to Manila, Philippines, Tina and her family were based in East Timor as lay missionaries for their Catholic community, Couples for Christ. Get to know Tina more through her blogs at www.trulyrichmom.com and www.teachermamatina.blogspot.com.

Learning with Blue Clues and Super Why

Today we are having an interview with Angela Santomero   to learn how to make TV viewing a more interactive and learning experience for your kids.

If you haven’t heard about either of these educational kids series you should certainly check them out. My kids love watching them and have learned a lot through viewing the programs together with me.

 

 

How watching the shows ( Blue Clues or Super Why) can be a way of learning for young kids and how parents can make it a learning lesson instead of just letting the child passively watch the episodes on TV?

 

I have a Master’s degree in child developmental psychology and instructional technology and media from Teachers College, Columbia University.  Therefore, making sure that children learn from the shows I make is as important to me as making sure that kids love my characters and stories.
For both Blue’s Clues and SUPER WHY, we start with a curriculum we write that gives us the foundation of learning for the series.
Each episode is evaluated by a team of researchers led by Alice Wilder, Ed.D. For Super Why, the team includes a reading teacher and a reading researcher. In reviewing the episodes, the team makes recommendations in the following areas: appeal, attention, comprehension, interactivity, game play and literacy element adjustments.

A summative evaluation was done on both Blue’s Clues and Super Why which proved that kids who watched the shows scored better on standardized tests than kids who did not watch the shows.  In more detail for Super Why, for instance, Dr. Deborah Linebarger, in collaboration with Katie McMenamin and Deborah Wainwright, from the University of Pennsylvania at Annenburg, completed the summative evaluation.  The results of this detailed evaluation, which demonstrated that the program made significant contributions to viewers’ early literacy skills, have been featured in several news outlets across the country.Read the report at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communications


– follow up activities that can be done outside the video watching

We have many episode specific activities that we have created on line for parents and teachers as resources to extend the learning from the show.  It is our hope that kids are motivated by our show and will then wish to play out our characters, read, and play our award winning Super Why app or online games at PBSKids.org/super why

We also have lots of resources from our highly acclaimed Super Why Reading Camps that we have found many parents put to great use over the summer months to combat the “summer slide” – where the kids may fall back or behind during the long summer months.  Here is a link to download all of these activities: Super Why Activities!
Follow me on iVILLAGE this summer as I coach parents through some fun literacy activities and tips to keep this at bay!

AngelaAngela C. Santomero has been changing the way children watch television for over fifteen years.
She is a Founding Partner and Chief Creative Officer of Out  of the Blue Enterprise LLC, overseeing the creative development and research of all of the company’s projects, with a. mission and vision to bring educational entertainment to a whole new level. Her innovative approach to children’s television derives from her extensive background in developmental psychology, instructional technology and education.

She is the lead creator, executive producer and head writer for Nickjrs landmark preschool show Blue’s Clues. Her ability to integrate education, entertainment and active participation helped make Blue’s Clues a breakthrough educational program. Currently, Angela is the Creator, Executive Producer and Head Wńter of the Emmy­ nominated and #1 ranked show, SuperWHY which helps build preschool literacy skills through fractured fairy tales and interactive games.

Angela’s vast accomplishments include leading the production and development of numerous Emmy nominated episodes for Blue’s Clues, Super Why & Daniel  Neighborhood; a full-length feature called Blue’s Big Musical Movie; educational Blue’s Clues  and twenty+ books for Simon & Schuster. In addition, she wrote two Blue’s Clues theatrical productions, which played at
Radio City Music Hall in New York City as well as venues across the nation.

Angela is a prestigious Peabody Award Winner for Outstanding Children’s Programming and a Gold and Silver Parents Choice Awards recipient. She has received a Master’s degree in Child Developmental Psychology from Columbia University’s Teachers College where she was the recipient of the 1999 Early Career Award. Angela acquired her B.A from The Catholic University of America.

Angela grew up in New Jersey and currently lives in New York with her husband Greg, her two adorable daughters and their energetic dog Oreo. Angela derives inspiration, laughter and sometimes even notes on her scripts from her girls. Angela’s family is her priority. Some of their favorite activities include: roasting vegetables, singing, reading, skiing and asking questions about the way the world works.