As Promised, I am working on more Homeschool content! Before I had children, I had this stigma in my mind about what homeschool was. I imagined desks in the home, a quiet environment, a white board and hours upon hours spent learning in the structured way you see in public and private schooling. If you know our family, you know this would not be something that would work for us. We are loud, my kids are wild, and they rarely like to be sitting. In fact, I’m quite certain I lost my pregnancy weight because they constantly keep me on my toes! When the topic of the possibility of homeschooling came up, I was quick to brush it off. It couldn’t possibly be something that would work for us.
Ada was enrolled in private pre-k at a very well known private school in our area. After a while we noticed that she was lightyears ahead of what they were learning in her class. She was bored. It was then that we decided to give it a try. It was only going to be for pre-k, and then we would send her to a magnet school for kindergarten. I was pregnant, Grey was so young, there was no way I could continue homeschooling Ada, and also try to give educational attention to Grey. Wrong again. You see, the beauty of homeschool is you learn as you go. You adapt. Finding ways to make it work for our family has been such a delightful journey. One of my favorite teaching methods has been learning through play. This comes in so many shapes and forms. We learn through play by making fun games with chalk on sunny days. I will draw shapes for Grey and talk about the shapes and colors. With Ada we will write out words and she will have to jump from word to word to create a sentence. I also search for great toys that I can use to encourage learning with all three of my children. Yes, that’s right- toys that can be used to teach Ada who is 5, Greyson who is 2 and Wes who is only 7 months old.
Some of our absolute favorite toys come from Grimm’s Wooden Toys. They create beautiful natural and sustainable wooden toys, all with beautiful wood grain. The colors are vibrant and non-toxic. They are tested in depth with saliva too so for my teething little Wes, I can trust that those colors are safe and will stay! Wooden toys are so wonderful, especially for young babies, because wood inspires baby to use all senses. Their hand sanded tows are soft in baby’s hands, the colors and the grain and the patterns are stimulating for baby’s eyes. The way the wood smells and tastes uses those other senses as well, and if your baby is anything like mine- the sound of the wood hitting the floor during that fun game of “mommy fetch” is delightful for him.
Are you ready to hear how we use these toys three different ways, challenging each child and allowing them to learn whilst using their imaginations? Yes? Okay, here we go!
Ada, Kindergarten, age 5 1/2
Ada loves these sets! We use the numbers to build towers as well as to practice our numbers 0-90 (with the exception of numbers 11, 22, 33, etc) by arranging them in different ways. I will create a number and ask her what it is. We also do simple math with the numbers AND the figures! We will use a laminated piece of paper and a dry erase marker and swap out the +/- sign. For example, she will use the number 2 (then +) and the number 1 to create three. She can use the figures if she gets stumped or just to double check her work. She likes to use the figures to tell stories as well. We also use them to practice spelling and sounding out each figure (car, pig, etc)!
Grey, age 2 1/2
These are so perfect for Grey’s age! He’s been taking his time with talking so the figures are helping us have fun learning all of the names! For the animals we go over the word, the color, the sound they make, if its big or small. I then take two and say something like “Grey, show Mommy the SMALL one” and he will point out the small one. I will lay out all of the figures and ask him to show me which one is BLUE or RED and we are using them to develop our colors. We use them to count too. Also, for counting we obviously love using the building set numbers! This gives him the visual skills to identify what the number actually looks like, which will come in handy for our homeschool lessons next year! He of course loves trying to balance them and stack them which is great for hand eye coordination and also quiet time and focus! He of course loves knocking them over too! I also love his 2 year old version of “storytelling”. He will make noises and zoom the cars around play with the animals, it melts my heart to see him using his imagination.
Wes, age 7 1/2 months
Wes is such a sweet, curious little soul. The colors of these two sets keep his curious wide eyes engaged, they keep his mind stimulated and they are the perfect size for his small hands! He is teething, so naturally, they go straight to his mouth. I don’t need to worry about him putting them into his mouth, because of the wonderful quality and non-toxic stains that Grimm’s uses! I will stand them up and watch him knock them over, he thinks its so much fun! Little does he know, I’m working on his hand-eye coordination!
Stay tuned for next month where I share some more of our favorite Grimm’s Wooden Toys!
What are your favorite ways to encourage learning through play?