Thursday, October 30, 2014

Simple Matching Games for Toddlers (Teaching Letters and Numbers)

I have mentioned in my previous posts on our letter of the week program that on top of these activities, I also let my toddler (2-year-old) play some matching games to help reinforce the lessons we have on letters and numbers.
Let me share with you some of these simple games which are so easy to prepare and are so easy to grasp by toddlers.
1. Matching letters and toys - We use small foam letters here. We began with the letters of my toddler's first name (MATEO). I noticed when we were still starting with our alphabet lessons that my toddler's attention wanders away after a few minutes when we use all flash cards or when we use all the foam letters to study the alphabet. Good thing I read in several blogs by other moms that it's more helpful and easier for a child to begin studying the letters of his/her name first. That way, the child does not get overwhelmed with the need to recognize too many letters right away.
So, I chose some of my toddler's favorite toys that start with the letters of his first name. (Mango, apple, tomato, eggplant and orange to match the letters MATEO). I showed him first how to match them correctly, sounding out the letters and the names of the toys and matching them with each other.

Then, I mix up the toys and the letters and ask my toddler son to match them. I began with arranging the letters correctly and asked my child to match the plastic toys. He easily learned the letters of his name through this matching game. I was also glad that I was inspired to use his favorite toys since this made the game more interesting for him.

Mateo matches the toys to the foam letters of his name.

When I saw that he got this correctly, I then mixed up the letters and arranged the plastic toys in order. My son also answered it correctly even when we played the matching game in reverse.
After playing this matching game for a couple of weeks, we tried asking my toddler to match the plastic toys with the letters in his puzzle mat. This time, all the letters of the alphabet were there already and they were arranged in order. My son was still able to find the letters of his name after some tries. When I noticed that he still gets a bit confused with a lot of letters, we limited the letters again to his first name. After practicing by playing this matching game for a number of days again, we let him try finding the letters of his name again with the entire alphabet puzzle mat laid out. This time, he was able to answer correctly even with his first try.
2. Matching flash cards and clothes pins with letters - I got this idea in another blog. It's so simple and budget-friendly as well. We still have a lot of wooden clothes pins at home so I adapted this activity right away as soon as I learned about it.
You simply need a permanent marker, clothes pins and flash cards. Again, we began with the letters of my toddler's first name (MATEO) to prevent overwhelm and confusion. I wrote one letter per clothes pin and separated the flash cards with the letters of his name. I showed him how to match them correctly, sounding out the letters and showing him the clothes pins with the corresponding letters. I mixed up the flash cards and clothes pins again and asked my son to match them to each other. At first, I asked my toddler to clip the clothes pins to the flash cards.

Then, when I found some yarn and a place in the house where we can hang our "toys," I asked him to hang the flash cards there as he plays this matching game.

Mateo hanging his flash cards using the clothes pins with the letters of his name.

My toddler happy and proud of his accomplishment!
3. Matching DIY Thomas and Friends trains and clothes pins with numbers - My toddler son loves Thomas and Friends so much that I try to connect as much homeschool lessons as I can with this character. Since I'm also teaching him numbers and helping him to become more familiar with them, I thought of using the character of Thomas and Friends for this lesson. The trains in this series have numbers so I researched the names and colors of the trains and began with the first 10 trains in the series to help my toddler become more familiar with numbers 1 to 10.
I asked the help of my two sons in this homeschool project. They helped me make the trains. I cut the rectangles from the scrap colored papers that we have while they traced circles and painted them to become the wheels of the trains. Then, I numbered the trains based on the story of Thomas and Friends. Next, I introduced them to my toddler son and pointed out the numbers of the trains.
Then, I wrote one number on each clothes pins again using a permanent marker. I read out the numbers to my son and asked him to match the clothes pins with numbers to the trains with numbers on their bodies. Like with our matching game with the letters of his name, at first I asked him to clip the clothes pins to the trains.

Our DIY Thomas and Friends homeschool project.

Then, when we had a yarn set up near our hallway, I asked him to hang the trains in the yarn as he plays this matching game. My son found this game interesting and fun. It's a short game but very effective in teaching him to recognize numbers. It's also very simple and easy to prepare.

Mateo matches the clothes pins with numbers to our DIY trains.

Mateo with Thomas and Friends, our version. ;)
If you have a son who also likes trains or the character of Thomas and Friends, I highly recommend this matching game to you and your son when learning numbers and colors. 

Here are names and numbers of the trains in this series:

1 - Thomas, blue
2 - Edward, blue
3 - Henry, green
4 - Gordon, blue
5 - James, red
6 - Percy, green
7 - Toby, brown
8 - Doc, green
9 - Donald, black
10 - Douglas, black

These are the simple activities that we do on top of our letter of the week activities. Based on our experience, they are effective ways to reinforce the lessons that my toddler learns in our letter of the week activities. Feel free to use the same activities in teaching your little ones if you think they would also work in your family.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

United Nations Activities in our Homeschool

It was our first time to celebrate United Nations Day this year in our homeschool. It is just fitting that we celebrate it this year because my eldest son has been showing interest in the study of maps and flags of different countries. This was sparked by his Dad's frequent travels last year. The kids became interested in the countries that their Dad visited as part of his job.
Even before this month, my eldest son has been studying geography through his maps and globe. Last September, we found a poster of the flags of nations.
Let me share the activities we have done so far in celebrating United Nations Month.
1. Flag-making - We have integrated this activity in our Letter of the Week Program since this is one of my eldest child's interests. His younger brother likes the activity as well. There were times when we used paint to do this. Other times, we used crayons or colored paper. We have made several flags already. On United Nations Day, we made 3 more flags. One of these flags was the flag of Oman.

2. We read books. - We are certified bookworms so reading books is one activity that's always a part of our homeschool activities. Since we were already on letter O last October 24, I read the synopsis of a book entitled The Turtle of Oman to my eldest son. When we were on letter E, we read books about Egypt. We also read Pinocchio which was set in Italy.
3. Storytelling - I also shared more facts about Oman to my boys, which I have read from articles in the internet. I chose facts that they can relate to somehow.
4. Passport-making - I was inspired to make 'passports' for the boys. The passport I designed was inspired by the passport from FIAR's website. We will document our study of the different countries using these passports. We will write the dates when we'll study about the different countries as our date of arrival. We will stick the little flags that we made inside its pages, too.  

5. World Tour - Our world tour is only pretend play for the boys. They either ride their toy airplanes or boats or walk from country to country using our globe or maps.

6. Watched a Musical - We have previously scheduled to watch a musical on Pinocchio last October 25 but I did not know yet that it was also United Nations Week last week. I was delighted to find out that the musical we scheduled to watch last weekend was set in Italy and that it was presented in such a way that the audience were introduced to a few things about Italy. We were taught a few Italian words in the course of watching the musical. Thus, we now use "bambino", "buongiorno" and "mi scusi" at home. The musical will run until December so if you want to bring your kids to this musical, you can still buy tickets. Click here to buy your tickets.

7. Learned songs - I also taught new songs to the kids which were related to the countries we were studying. You may read about these here in my post on our activities with the letter E.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Letter of the Week Activities with the Letter E

It has been an exciting week for us as we did various activities related to our letter of the week, which is the letter E!
Just like with our previous letters of the week, we began with my toddler (2-year-old son) finger painting the letter E in upper and lower case. I also let him trace his finger on a foam letter E before doing the painting exercise.

Next, we proceeded with an E as in Earth art activity. It was also an opportunity for my 6-year-old to practice his listening, spelling and writing skills as I dictated a Bible verse to him.

Let me share how we did this earth finger painting activity step by step:
1. I asked the boys to choose a round object that they would trace on a bond paper.
2. I asked my 6-year-old son to cut the circles.
3. I mixed a bit of white on our dark blue paint in another container.
4. The boys first painted the circle cut outs with blue paint using their fingers.
5. Air dry the painted cut outs.
6. While we were air-drying the globes/earths of the boys, I asked my eldest son to write a Bible verse on a bond paper. My youngest got hungry so he had some morning snack while waiting for his globe to dry. ;)
7. Once dry, the boys finger painted green paint (for the islands/continents) on their respective earths/globes.
8. We let them air dry once more and we cleaned their hands.
9. The boys glued the earths they painted on bond papers. My eldest son glued his earth on the same paper where he wrote a Bible verse about the earth. My younger son glued his on a clean sheet of bond paper.
10. Then, I helped my toddler write E as in Earth on his bond paper.
While the kids were painting, I let a song video about our Bible verse for the week play in the background. The boys tried to learn the song after our painting activity.

As usual, we posted their newly-finished works of art on our wall near our kids' study table.
The next activity that we had after that was reading of books. First, we read about the creation story and explained briefly how God made the earth to be full of His goodness. Moreover, I highlighted that E is also for Eve, the first woman, and E as in the Garden of Eden. We also read about the earth again from our Space Book. Then, we read about the flight from Egypt through one of the books we bought at the recent MIBF -- One Mighty, Awesome, Incredible Rescue.

After the boys woke up from their nap that day, we watched the movie Prince of Egypt.

The following day, we had food that started with the E. We had eggplant omelette and egg pie.

We also read a book about eagles titled Eagles Don't Fly, They Soar! The Adventures of Billy Big Toes by Bo Sanchez. I read this to the boys before their nap.

We read the books related to our letter of the week before nap time and at night. In between reading lines from the book, I ask the kids some questions or I let the kids fill in the details to check if they remembered the details of our stories.

I also taught the boys an action song that I learned when I was in college as part of a Catholic Charismatic community. My college friends and I taught this action song to the delegates of World Youth Day '95 wherein we served as facilitators. The boys had been singing and dancing to the tune of this song in the past days.


We also looked up Egypt on our globe and its flag on my eldest son's poster of the flags of nations. I showed them photos of pyramids and the sphinx as well.

Then, we made our own version of Egypt's flag. It was a joint effort of us three. I first folded a bond paper lengthwise into three parts. I asked my toddler to choose between black and red crayon. He said he wants to use black. So, I let him color the black part of the flag. After helping him finish his part of the flag, I asked my eldest son to color the red portion of the flag. When the boys were done with their part, I drew an eagle in the middle of the white portion. Then, I posted our flag on our wall.

Aside from these activities, I let my toddler watch this video on the letter E in the past days while holding/playing with some props.


Lastly, the boys made their own versions of pyramids using their building blocks.

These were the exciting activities we had with the letter E this past days. Watch out for my post for our next letter of the week -- the letter O!

Note: Aside from doing these activities, we also engage in other activities that our boys like doing each day. The letter of the week program is just one part of our homeschool adventure. You may read about our daily homeschool activities in detail here in my previous post.

Another activity that I let my toddler engage in these past weeks is a matching game with different variations. All variations however have one main goal: that is to help him become more familiar with the letters of his name (MATEO). Watch out for my post also where I will enumerate and detail all the matching games that Mateo is playing to help him achieve this goal.