What learning activities can I do with my children?
This is the NUMBER ONE question I get in my inbox and it definitely justifies a blog post!
Pinterest is an amazing place to get ideas. You can find millions of activity ideas on Pinterest BUT that’s also a big problem. Which activity should I choose? And this is what this post is all about! I’m going to guide you through understanding the learning needs of your children and choosing the best learning activities for them!
The two key factors to consider when choosing learning activities for your children are their 1) AGES and 2) INTERESTS.
1) Age of your child
I break down the children’s ages into three groups and will talk about the different activities for each age group.
Babies: 0 to 1.5 years old
From birth to around 1.5 years old, these are the babies love exploring everything with their mouths and hands. We want to provide them with lots of taste safe sensory experiences. And they absolutely have zero sense of danger, every activity requires 110% adult supervision.
- Little Lifelong Learners has a good post on sensory play ideas for the young babies 6 months old and younger.
- Busy Toddler compiled a great list of activities for babies from 6 to 15 months old.
- Here’s another list of 30+ activities for 1 year old from Kids Activities Blog.
Toddlers: 1.5 to 3 years old
The toddlers (1.5 to 3 years old) begin to take interest in small objects and this is a great time to introduce fine motor skills activities. They are still loving sensory experiences (and they LOVE sensory bins) so continue to provide them with lots of sensory experiences. The toddlers will love making art too! Again, adult supervision is required for all the activities.
2 years old and up, children are recognizing letters and numbers and may be ready for simple letters or numbers matching activities. They are also ready for shelf work at this time. For both my children, I started making theme learning shelves for them when they were around 2 years old. You can read more about how we set up our theme learning shelves here.
- This is a compilation of activities I did with my toddler daughter from my HTS Instagram page.
- You can find many theme learning activities for toddlers from our theme learning shelves here.
- Happy Toddler Play Time has put together a list of 21 amazing sensory bins ideas for toddlers and preschoolers.
- I also love this list of 40+ no prep activities for toddlers from Busy Toddler.
- Also, check out this list of art activities for toddlers from the The Artful Parent.
Preschoolers: 3 to 6 years old
On top of sensory experiences and fine motor skills, the preschoolers are ready for learning writing, reading and mathematics. Make learning experiences as fun, hands-on and playful as possible – these are the best ways for children to learn!
Fine motor activities are still important at this stage and they help prepare the preschoolers for skills like writing and cutting. Every child is different and they will pick up writing, reading and mathematics whenever they are ready. When your preschooler shows interest in any skill, provide him/her with many hands-on learning opportunities. Every preschooler will still love a good old sensory bin and making art.
- Here are many theme learning activities for preschoolers from our learning shelves.
- Check out these 40+ math and literacy activities for preschoolers from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls.
- Here’s a wonderful list of 30 Science experiments to do with toddlers and preschoolers from Growing a Jeweled Rose
- Days with Grey has a list of 11+ ways to practice name recognition with your preschoolers.
- Here are more ideas for preschoolers to practice writing on this Pre-writing/Writing Pinterest Board.
- These are 20 + fun process art projects to do with your preschoolers from Buggy and Buddy.
2) Your child’s Interests
This factor almost always guarantees a successful learning activity – follow your child’s interest! If your child is going through a cutting frenzy, create opportunities for him/her to practice the cutting over and over again. Repetition is the foundation of learning for children and is necessary for children to fully master any skills or languages.
If your child is obsessed with dragons, ride on his/her interest and set up some dragon theme activities! When we tap on that natural curiosity the children have for things that interest them, learning becomes so natural and teaching becomes efficient. Read more about why we love theme based learning here.
What do I do if a child is not interested in an activity?
Here are some things you can do:
- Wait a couple of weeks before re-introducing the same activity again.
- Change an element in the activity. For example, if your child does not like a dot painting activity, switch the dot paint markers for dot stickers and try again. Here’s an example of a same activity and 3 different ways to introduce it to my toddler.
- Leave the activity on the learning shelf (if it’s safe) and wait for your child to pick up the activity on his/her own.
- Scrap this activity and try to introduce the skill/concept with another activity.
Talk, read and play
Before I end this post, I want to emphasize three simple things we can all do with our children, regardless their ages – talk, read and play with them! I know there are so many fancy learning activities out there, but none of them is going to be better than just you spending time talking, reading and playing with your children.
I am going to conclude this long post with more useful links for you.
- Our past learning shelves are archived here. Each post is a summary of all the learning activities we do for each theme and that’s a great place to get ideas.
- Here’s a post about our daily schedule this year with my 2.5yo toddler and 5yo preschooler.
- I also wrote a free EGuide Themes 101 with tips to choose a good theme and a list of 101 theme ideas to help you get started. Get your copy here.
- Here are some useful posts for setting up a home learning space at home.
- We have tons of learning ideas on our Pinterest, all arranged according to themes and learning skills. Follow HTS on Pinterest for regular ideas update!
Happy learning at home!