>> Thursday, May 21, 2015
School is almost out for summer! We have a little less than a month of classes left. I can’t believe how much Ada has learned in the 3s, as she heads off to Pre-K next year, I definitely don’t want to totally drop the ball on her learning. At the same time, it can be FUN. So, here are a few of our favorite toys -- we own + have tested them all -- that encourage learning without it feeling like a chore.
I once read an article about how to encourage letter-learning with tots and preschoolers, and I discovered this cool Foam Letter trick. Take two or three letters and plop them in the bath
We got our Fridge Phonics when Ada was younger. She has suddenly shown an interest in it again as we chat more about letters and sounds as we prepare for beginning reading. I also came across this amazing video of a 2-year-old sounding out words (reading) using the letters on the fridge. Very cool.
Ada was given a 30-piece set of Magformers for a gift a couple years ago. We finally dug them out of storage again, and she’s hooked. I searched around and found that a lot of people really like Magna-Tiles. I bought a set from Target and wasn’t terribly impressed (though my friends tell me I may have just received a bad set). Anyway, I went out and bought a larger set of Magformers to add to the collection. Hours (and HOURS!) of entertainment, shape learning, and reasoning going on.
We used to use these Wooden Beads to develop Ada’s fine motor skills. You can also use them to identify colors and do simple counting, addition, and subtraction. It’s a very hands-on approach that works particularly well with younger learners.
Ada and I recently went on a nature walk, and she’s obsessed with catching bugs and watching them crawl around. We got her a simple Bug Net and a little Bug House. (It might even be fun to combine this activity with this Fine Motor Tools set.) The rules are just that she needs to be gentle, tell us before she picks something up, and then we always release. Apparently we have 5,000 slugs in our backyard.
Learning encompasses more than just ABCs and 123s. This Responsibility Chart hangs in Ada’s room at the entry. There are all sorts of different magnetic tasks from getting ready for bed to setting the dinner table. Ada puffs up with pride when she gets her stars for a job well done.
Geography was one of my favorite subjects in school. I’m still sort of a map nerd. I could look at them for hours. So, we picked up a simple Melissa + Doug USA Puzzle to start a bit of that with Ada. It’s fun to point out where our friends and family live across the country. There’s also this cool jumbo World Floor Puzzle that looks like fun.
I remember browsing the aisles at Barnes + Noble when Ada was a baby, and these workbooks by Shinobu Akaishi and Eno Sarris caught my eye. We have all the age-appropriate ones for Ada, including the Tracing, Cutting, Mazes, and more. They’ve been particularly helpful when preschool has been closed or canceled. And as we head into summer, it’ll be fun to have some structured learning.
We’ll be traveling a good amount this summer, and now that Ada’s well beyond the everything-goes-in-my-mouth phase, we’re loving magnetic boards for play. I picked up this exact Farm Board at a country store in my hometown last week. They also make a Zoo Board, Beach Board, and a few others. I’d love to get another one before we head to the shore this summer. It’ll give the iPad a break, I think.
PS: The links above are affiliates. They’re also the best prices I can find on all toys = Amazon. (True of most of what I buy online.) However, many stores price-match if you show them a lower price. It’s at least worth a try if you’d rather not order online.
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