Last week Rylin casually informed me that she’s not a baby. She very earnestly said, “Mommy, I not a baby.” as she furrowed her brow. It was like daggers to the heart, but she was right. The quads aren’t really babies anymore. They are transforming into children with opinions, thoughts, and voracious appetites for learning. They never cease to amaze me with bits of knowledge they absorb. I want to nurture this love of learning, and literacy in particular so I’ve begun literacy based crafts. It sounds fancy, but I promise it’s simple.
Part of our day is devoted to semi structured learning activities such as flash cards, songs, and story time. A few times a week we do a craft, most typically one I remember doing from my days in the classroom and sometimes a Pinterest find. Crafts in themselves are fantastic for toddlers; they can teach direction following, concepts (e.g. shapes, colors, counting, alphabet recognition), develop fine motor skills, and inspire creativity. However, children learn and recall new concepts best when associations are presented to them. Therefore, I’m now pairing our craft activities with literature (aka toddler appropriate board books). When I have a craft project I’d like to do, I peruse our library to find a book that coordinates with it (or a favorite book inspires a craft). I read the book to the quads as I present new vocabulary and concepts related to the book. As I read, I also ask many “wh” questions (e.g. who, what, when, where). Of course, these questions are all asked with toddlers in mind. For instance, I may say, “what animal is this?” I also try to help the quads draw connections between the book and their world by pointing out things in their environment or that they’ve seen other places. Following the story, we do the craft, which I hang in the quads new “art gallery” (aka a wall in their playroom). As days and weeks pass, I continue to ask the quads about their art and the corresponding story. When I re-read the story, I bring up their art and they proudly tell me about it.
Does it still seem complicated? I assure you, it’s not! Here are two recent crafts:
1. Coffee Filter Butterflies
I remembered doing this craft while working in a daycare and found two books from our shelf related to butterflies. We happened to have The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Caterpillar Spring, Butterfly Summer so I chose those for our literature. Any book related to caterpillars or insects would suffice.
Vocabulary Introduced: Butterfly, Caterpillar, Cocoon
“Wh” Questions: What did the caterpillar eat? What did the caterpillar turn into? Where did the caterpillar sleep?
2. Muddy Car Tracks
One of the quad’s favorite books is Little Blue Truck. Again, it reminded me of working in day care and painting with car wheels. I read the book as well as another related to cars and spent time discussing mud. It was fitting that it was a rainy day so we peered out the window and watched the raindrops create mud in the yard. Afterwards, I explained that my plate was covered in mud (brown tempera paint), and our toy cars got stuck. The quads then had a great time dislodging the cars and creating muddy tracks on construction paper. It’s been at least three weeks since we did this project, and the quads still talk about their muddy tracks, and tires getting stuck.
Vocabulary introduced: mud, stuck, tracks, tires
“Wh” Questions: What does blue truck say? Who helped push the trucks? Where were the trucks stuck?
For this project we used: construction paper, tape, brown tempera paint, and Little People cars.
Anytime we do a craft, I try to keep it simple using basic supplies we already have, most of which I collected from the Dollar Tree. There’s no need to make things complex or expensive for toddlers.
What is your favorite toddler craft and/ or book? Any we should try?
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