Toddler Activities, Uncategorized

Learning Songs: Singing The Scales

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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.

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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:

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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.)

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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!

Toddler Activities

One and Two: Simple Counting Songs For Learning Early Math

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We’ve been super into counting songs (and dump trucks, obvs) in our house these days! Simple finger-play songs like these help familiarize little ones with numbers and counting, obviously, but also with other early math concepts like addition. Here are two finger-plays that are so easy you can sing them in your sleep, as I do most nap times. Yawn.

Now One More

Sung to the tune of Where Is Thumbkin?

Where is One? Where is One?

Here I am, Here I am (Show one finger)

We’re so glad to see you, so very glad to see you

Now One More, Now One More

Where is Two? Where is Two?

Here I am, Here I am (Show Two Fingers)

We’re so glad to see you, so very glad to see you

Now One More, Now One More

IMG_5745 2.jpgCounting small blocks while singing 

Continue until ten, or twenty, or until you or your kiddo falls asleep, whatever! Sometimes in less sleepy times, I use props (like blocks or finger puppets) instead of my fingers so that we can lay them out and count them after the song ends. Counting  one to ten, then counting down from ten, also adds the idea of subtraction, especially if you remove a prop with each number. For most early learners, addition and subtraction are easier to understand when using concrete objects like blocks or clothespins or spoons, whatever you have around. It can also help reinforce one-to-one correspondence (when your kiddo can point to each object he or she is counting) and the ideas of  quantity (basically understanding which is “more” or “less”).

Side note: More and less also can help with social skills, as sharing and equality come into the mix: “You have four trucks and Jolie has none. You have more. Can you share the trucks?” Not to say this will always work, of course, but it’s worth a try when sharing gets hairy!


Two Little Blackbirds: The Counting Version

Two Little Blackbirds, sitting on a shoe (Use one finger from each hand to represent a blackbird)

One named One and one named Two

Fly away One, fly away Two (fly the blackbirds away one at a time)

Come back One, come back Two (fly the blackbirds back to the middle)

Two Little Blackbirds sitting on the floor (continue finger movement throughout song)

One named Three and one named Four

Fly away Three, fly away Four

Come back Three, come back Four

Two Little Blackbirds, sitting on some sticks

One named Five and one named Six

Fly away Five, fly away Six

Come back Five, come back Six

Two Little BlackBirds, sitting on a gate

One named Seven and one named eight

Fly away Seven, fly away Eight

Come back Seven, come back Eight

Two Little Blackbirds, sitting in a den

One named Nine and One named Ten

Fly away Nine, fly away Ten

Come back Nine, come back Ten

(You can find another version of Two Little Blackbirds in a previous post)


                                                          PS Want more number and math games for early learners?  I’ll post about some quick and easy counting games I made for my two-year-old in literally five minutes with limited supplies (paper, a scissor, and a few markers.) Yup, the dump trucks from the top photo are pieces to the game.

Toddler Activities, Uncategorized

Ice, Ice Baby: Ice Cube Fun

What better way to spend a warm Spring day then by playing with ice? I love to keep ice cube paint and ice animals chilling in our freezer to pop out whenever  we need something fun to do (or when I need to keep my toddler busy for an extended period of time, whichever comes first.)

Ice Cube Paint: 

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This is so super easy and really can keep a toddler or preschooler (or even an older kiddo) busy for quite awhile, which makes it worthwhile for that reason alone! It’s basically as easy as making a homemade popsicle, I even use old popsicle molds, but ice cube trays or small containers/cups work too.

How To:

Just mix some homemade or store-bought paint with water and a dash of liquid soap and pour into an ice cube tray or popsicle molds and freeze. Whalah, done! See how easy?!

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Paint Pop Tips:

I usually make larger paint pops by using the whole popsicle mold. This is super because my Bub will paint until the whole thing melts so obviously the bigger, the longer this project will last! It’s also easier to re-freeze the popsicle-sized ones if they don’t use the whole thing.

If you make ice cube sized ones, you can use popsicle sticks (or reusable popsicle handles, like I did) but crayons, pencils, and old markers also work well as handles and are also reusable!

About the paint…I used to make homemade, all-natural and organic paint all the time with my kiddo. But, super honest time: now we sometimes use store bought watercolor paint because the colors are brighter and it’s way easier since we do so much art it’s hard to keep up! (I still make it whenever possible, but for this post I used store-bought.) That said, there is zero judgement here so use whatever you want, it’s your project! Watercolors are great, but it can work with any kind of paint, really. (For thicker paint, add more water and soap to thin it out so it will freeze.)

This is better for kiddos that aren’t still mouthing everything, especially if you use popsicle molds, because who doesn’t want to eat a delicious brightly-colored popsicle?!

These can be messy, so you might want to have a tray or something underneath the paper for the melty-ness.

Ice Animals

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I always keep some icy animals in the freezer in all seasons. (and I love that my husband has never questioned why there are frozen animals and such in our freezer).  These are even easier than making the paint pops, just toss some mini animals in an ice cube tray (or bag), add water, and freeze. Done and done! I use waterproof reusable lunch bags, but any kind of bag  or freezable container will do the trick.

After they’re frozen, I just pop them into a tray or tub and give my two-year-old some tools so that he can help to free the frozen animals. The tools we use are kitchen utensils, a wooden mallet, and a small hammer, as well as kid-sized goggles and sometimes even a pair of mittens or “work gloves.” Then he can smash away at the ice until the animals are free, which can take a long, long time. Once they are out of the ice, they usually like to frolic in the icy tub, especially in winter if I add some snow. (Adding water to the tub on warmer days is also a ton of fun! Sometimes the ice cube animals like to swim around until they melt on their own.) You can also add other natural items to the tub for the animals to make homes with after they escape the ice, like small twigs, fallen evergreen branches, acorns, and the like. (This can even be an additional part of the activity: go on a nature search with your kiddo for items the animals might want to use for building or playing.)

Ice Animal Tips:

If you want to use the ice cubes in water, having smaller cubes is fun because it’s easier to hold the animals and have them “swim.” Bigger blocks of ice in water are MUCH harder to deal with and break apart because slippery. And icy water. So beware!

My general rule of thumb is: the younger the kiddo, the smaller the cubes. I also add more to the tub so that they don’t have to concentrate only on breaking the cubes apart, but can also build animal homes or just play with the snow or water.

Let kiddos add salt and/or warm water to the tub to see if it helps melt the ice faster. Have sponges, scrubbers, and/or warm washcloths ready to keep little non-mittened hands warm, or to help with melting and washing animals.

**Side note: I usually use plastic or reusable animals for this project but you could easily freeze pinecones or other natural treasures to avoid the plastic animals.**

**COMBINE BOTH ACTIVITIES FOR SOME FUN AND SILLY ART!** 

Why Try It?

Both of these are fantastic for fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Using alternative art supplies is a super way to stretch cognitive and creative thinking.

Painting and using tools build spatial awareness as well as focus and concentration.

If your kiddos help to make these, there can be math and science lessons in there, when measuring out water and/or paint, filling up trays or bags, and waiting for them to freeze.

These can be completely all-natural and reusable in every way.

They are both suer easy set-ups but can buy you some much needed time! It’s also great to have an activity that can be made whenever you want and used at a later date when you need them most. Win-Win!

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Hope this keeps you cool and your kiddos busy! xo Meredith