parenting, Toddler Activities

One Potato, Two: Simple Transition Songs

cropped-cropped-img_2529.jpg

Any song can really be used as a transition song as long as you use it consistently so your child knows whats happening, but here are some specific ones that might help your toddler and preschooler move on to the next thing and are so short and easy that you won’t forget the lyrics!

 

For getting ready to go somewhere, including somewhere in the house:

Here We Go Marching:

Here we go marching, marching, marching, here we go marching now

Here we go marching (into your room, into the kitchen, into the car, etc.) 

Here we go marching now

( I add verses to this, like walking, skipping, jumping, dancing, etc. You could choose one that you like best and stick to that or do a few verses. It’s the rhythm and routine of the song that is the big win here.) 

One Potato, Two Potato

One potato, Two potato, Three potato, Four

Now we’re getting ready to walk out of the door

One potato, Two potato, Three potato, Four

Here we go now, right out of the door!

For getting ready to sleep:

Are You Sleeping? (Sung to the tune of Frere Jacques)

Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping?

Let’s lay down, let’s lay down

Ready to dream, ready to dream

Good night now, Good night now

For Eating:

Chew Chew

Chew chew chew your food

Chew it all up

Chew chew chew your food

Then drink from your cup

 

They might seem overly simple or silly, but that’s what makes them so effective. Toddlers and preschoolers don’t need a lot of words to tell them what to do, its something almost mindless that triggers their over-working brain to keep it on task. You can sing these every time you need to head to bed, to the car, or to eat and they will quickly get the message without you having to do a lot of negotiating, explaining, or cajoling. Plus, music soothes the savage beast, even when its just a three-second ditty that lets your kiddo know its snack time. So take it as a win, and get singing!

Toddler Activities

The Magic Pear: Easy Games for Young Preschoolers

As summer winds down, I’m realizing that I am exhausted and ready for Fall. My two-and-a-half year old heads back to preschool in a week (nine days to be exact, but who’s counting?) Even though he only goes part-time, it’s still a necessary break for both of us as I can feel our patience, both his and mine, is beginning to run thin at times. It doesn’t help that his sister was born during his last week of school and is really taking up time and attention…and leaving me pretty exhausted each day. As if a constant ball of two-year-old energy isn’t exhausting enough! But I digress. All I know is at this point in the summer I need some easy games we can play that keep him engaged while I am sitting (or more likely nursing my newborn) and this one fits the bill! This game originated in Africa and references the baobab trees that grow in Madagascar.

 images.jpeg

One kind of Baobab tree

There are two versions of this game but they both use the same basic rhyme:

Ti-Ki-Boom, Ti-Ki-Boom, Ti-Ki-Boom, Ti-Ki-Boom

Down The Baobab Went The Hare

Ti-Ki-Boom, Ti-Ki-Boom, Ti-Ki-Boom, Ti-Ki-Boom

Up He Came With The Magic Pear

(I’ve also heard people use the phrase “Chicka Boom” in place of “Ti-Ki-Boom”)

 

Version 1:

Get a pear (real or pretend). No pear? Any object will work, and you can just call it a pear. Preschoolers are great at pretending! One person hides the pear and then sings the rhyming song. When the rhyme ends, the other person has to find the magic pear. Easy, but hours of fun!

Version 2:

I made this version up when I was literally too tired (and busy nursing) to actually get up and hide the pear anymore. It’s basically “I Spy” (my son’s other favorite “mama-gets-to-sit-down” game) but with this rhyme instead. I will say an object in place of the word pear and my son will have to find that object. So, I would say, “Up He Came With The Magic DUMP TRUCK” and he’ll race around looking for his dump truck. Super easy. When Ir un out of things for him to find, I will start to use colors or shapes, like “Up He Came With The Magic PURPLE” and he’ll have to find something purple. I do this with I Spy a lot too, since he wants to play for so long that I often run out of things to find so this keeps the game going a little longer.

Why play these games? Besides the “sitting down while keeping energetic kids occupied”-which is really the best part!-they are fantastic for cognitive function. Both versions build object permanence, recall, and deductive skills as well as memory and spatial awareness. Adding in using shapes or colors to look for strengthen your child’s knowledge of…you guessed it…shapes and colors. Both games also are wonderful for honing focus and listening skills since children need to listen to the rhyme so they know what to look for and when they can starting looking. These are the types of games that really get your preschooler kindergarten-ready!

Want to enhance these games? Reading about the baobab tree is easy as there are a large number of terrific children’s books about these special trees. Here is one of my favorites from back in my full-time teaching days:

Unknown-1.jpeg

This Is The Tree: A Story Of The Baobab Written by Miriam Moss and Illustrated by Adrienne Kennaway


Another way to enhance the learning is to use the phrase Chicka Boom instead of Ti-Ki-Boom and then read the classic Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault. You can take that even further by having your child look for letters or letter sounds…I’ve done this with a felt letter set so students, including my son, can find actual letters but if they are ready to move past letter recognition, have them find something that starts with the letter B or has a B sound, etc. You get the gist.

 Unknown-4.jpeg

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault.


Hope these games can help you get some rest as you sail into the Autumn. Enjoy!

 

Toddler Activities, Uncategorized

Learning Songs: Singing The Scales

cropped-img_2529.jpg

Most people know the classic Do, Re, Me for singing the scales, and there’s also an alternate version that can go both up and down the scales to further the tonal distinctions. Learning the scales is important for musical ability and cognitive development, but also for experimenting with more nuanced social cues. When talking to other people, different tones can indicate different meanings. A lower tone of voice can indicate seriousness, a higher tone might be more playful. When understood in conjunction to other social cues, such as a smile or gesture, a toddler can understand when another kiddo is asking to play even if they speak different languages by the tone of voice being used. Just like they can understand a stern voice might mean stop, or a soothing voice tone is all about comfort.

Do Re Mi 

Doe A Deer, A Female Deer (touch all fingers to thumb to create a deer face)

Ray A Drop Of Golden Sun (spread fingers wide to indicate the sun)

Me, A Name I Call Myself (point to self)

Fa, A Long Long Way To Run (have two fingers run along opposite palm)

Sew, A Needle Pulling Thread (pretend to pull a threaded needle)

La, A Note To Follow So (“roll” hand away from mouth)

Tea, A Drink With Jam and Bread (pretend to drink a cup of tea)

And That Brings Us Back To Doe, Doe, Doe, Doe (make deer face again)


This alternate version goes both up and down the scales, and you can point to each body part mentioned:

On My Toe

Is A Flea

Now He’s Climbing

On My Knee

Past My Tummy

Past My Nose

On My Head

Where My Hair Grows…

On My Head (now scales will go back down)

There Is A Flea

Now He’s Climbing

Down Over Me

Past My Tummy

Past My Knee

On My Toe

Goodbye Flea

Both of these are fun little finger plays and easy songs to sing at any moment in any day!

 

Toddler Activities

Counting, Numeral Matching, and Dump Trucks

IMG_5741.JPGSo, my two-year-old is super into trucks and lately we’ve been doing a lot of counting, so one muggy morning I wanted to combine those two things but didn’t have much in the way of time or supplies. With my son’s help, I made a quick number matching game and a counting game with one of his faves: dump trucks. (Which are super easy to draw, so win-win.) He was able to play with these for quite awhile, then brought them into his indoor sandbox.

All I did to make these was draw a bunch of dump trucks and cut them out, then drew the “boards” on some scrap paper, which literally took under ten minutes. I honestly think cutting things out was the longest part! My son liked them so much that I’d love to re-create them for the felt board, and will post about these games again briefly when that project is done. Because I’m the at-home/working/pregnant mom of a two-year-old that doesn’t like to nap, so obviously I have a ton of time to make felt board games. (Insert sarcastic eye roll here.) Ha, ha.


As simple as these math games are, they do introduce (or reinforce) some basic foundational math ideas. One important aspect of early math concepts is known as one-to-one correspondence. This is when a child can point to objects and count them in order.

IMG_5734.JPG

For very early learners, having both the numbers written on the bottom and the pre-drawn boxes can really help with beginning counting, numeral recognition and understanding, and learning that one-to-one correspondence. The boxes help kiddos figure out how many are there while still grasping those counting and recognition skills. Once all the trucks are in place, it’s much easier to point to each one while counting. (This could take many, many tries and this activity is a success if one truck gets in each box the first time!)

The repetition of counting “one,” then “one, two,” then “one, two, three” is also incredibly helpful for toddlers since repetition is often their best way of learning. (Ever wonder why your two-year-old says the same thing a million times, or wants to read the same book over and over and over until you can recite it in your sleep? When you feel like your brain is starting to melt from all this repetition, just remember this is how they are learning….if you can before the brain melting, that is.)

One note on this game, I wrote the numbers on a separate piece of paper not just because of space, but because I wanted to remove them at times. I think it’s great to practice counting both with and without numerals being a part of the visual because sometimes less is more when learning new things! I also wanted to give my kiddo a chance to count all the trucks, since he’s really enjoying counting to ten and is all about including all the trucks all the time.

As they progress through this activity, you can further challenge them by taking away the pre-determined boxes:

IMG_5732.JPG

Two other math concepts are numeral recognition and matching. Numeral recognition has two parts, knowing “how many” and also what the actual written numeral represents, i.e. the number one stands for one dump truck. This concept is similar to early literacy in that children start to recognize that the letter A is a symbol for specific sounds that can begin the word “apple” or “alligator.” Generally speaking, early learners are taking in both of these ideas around the same time which can be helpful in the learning process and is sometimes referred to symbolic representation.

(Side note: Although related in their cognitive functions, symbolic representation can be different from Piaget’s theory of symbolic function, which also begins around age two. Symbolic function is best represented in dramatic play, where a child can pretend a box is a fire engine or that they are making tea using an old cup. A two-year-old knows what a fire engine or a cup of tea are, and can use another object to symbolize them. I will write more about this in another post on dramatic play, since it is such an important part of child development…and because I love me some dramatic play time! Tiny tangent over.)

IMG_5733.JPG

So, back to matching and numeral recognition. Having a small board like this where the dump trucks can park next to their numbers can help with both of those ideas. Matching the written numerals can create a cognitive connection so the numerals become more recognizable and familiar. Also, I think that taking away the counting aspect can make it easier for some early learners to focus on the actual numerals when just starting out. Again, less can be best when first introducing big ideas.

Whew! So that’s some early math talk. But all these different learning aspects (literacy, art, science, math…) are interconnected and pretty interesting when you start seeing how your kiddos brain works!

Oh, and please see my previous post if you want some simple counting songs. Music is deeply connected to learning and soothes the savage beast…which could be a cranky toddler or the tired parent of said cranky kid.

Hope your day is filled with fun learning love!