Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Theme for the month

While I love to be spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment and that sort of thing.  For the most part I am a planner.  I like to be organised.  I may have mentioned before - but I like lists.  I like to have things written down.

The same goes for activities with a toddler.  Often I'll think of something and we'll just go and do it - taking advantage of weather conditions for a walk in the woods.  Realising that the oven will be on for a long time for dinner, so taking the opportunity to do some baking.  Little C brings me his play dough, or starts dragging the easel around, so it's time for some play dough or painting.  I also like to have some sort of loose structure or outline to some of our activities though.  I don't want to get stuck in a rut of the same old same old activities and miss out on something.  

So I've come up with the idea of "20 Topics and Themes for Toddlers and Pre-schoolers".  I'm hoping that if I develop the idea, and produce the resources that go with it, I can either sell it on-line in ring-binder format, or I can get it properly published as a book (that would be awesome!).  I actually had the idea over a year ago, and came up with a list of topics that I thought a baby/toddler might be interested in, and ideas for activities that would fit in with them.  The way I work it is that we have a theme for a month, and then move on to a different one.  For each theme I have a whole list of art and craft ideas; songs, books and rhymes that fit with the theme; ideas for trips out and visits; things to cook; opportunities for looking at words and numbers and so on.  We don't timetable anything in or anything like that, we just kind of bear the theme in mind when we are thinking of what to do, and prepare activities to fit with the theme, so that when the moment is right, everything is ready to go.  I've now modified the list for toddlers through to pre-schoolers, with the idea that you can revisit the theme a couple of times over the few years before your child goes to school, and select/gear activities appropriate to your child's stage of development.

I'll give you an example.  For this February, our topic is "Birds".  
  • In his "theme box" we'll have feathers, bird books, RSPB magazine, toy birds and so on.  
Some of the things we plan to do:
  • The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch (actually that's this weekend, but it'll kick off the theme).
  • Go to our nearest RSPB reserve and I'll introduce him to the idea of a wildlife hide, watching birds and binoculars (and we'll have a hot choc and a cake in the cafe to warm up afterwards).
  • If we can manage it we'll go and watch the Red Kites being fed at a place about 45 minutes away.
  • We'll feed and watch the birds in the garden, give them fresh water and nesting materials.
  • We'll make recycled bird feeders.
  • We'll make a fatty bird cake.
  • I'm hoping he'll pick up some names of birds, and other words like nuts and seeds, nest etc.
  • We'll do some paintwash paintings and stick on silhouettes of birds.
  • I'll make some origami birds for him to destroy (oops, I meant play with).
  • I've made some cards up with different birds on so that we can match pairs.
  • We might cut out some pictures of birds from the RSPB magazine and stick them on to a foliage background to make a collage type picture.
  • We'll go and feed the ducks at a nearby pond.
So you see this stuff isn't rocket science, and it's all stuff that most toddlers and pre-schoolers can manage and should have the opportunity to do at some point.  By organising it into a theme and doing it all in one month, I'm hoping that he'll be able to make connections between the different activities more easily, and it means that these activities won't somehow get left behind in the everyday walking the dog, napping, eating, bedtime routine.

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