Surely children's books are the best reason to go to a library, right? Spotting a new book, flipping through the pages, finding new illustrators you adore, getting your kids excited about reading and just being surrounded by the richness of millions of BOOKS! That's pretty much the only reason to go to a library, am I right? Absolutely. Unless that library happens to be the newly renovated North York Central Library in Toronto. In that case, I'm a little embarrassed to admit, books don't even make my top 5. Let's just say that books are a given.
Now I know some people might think that toys and activities that create noise don't really mix well with a quiet library vibe. I get that. Whoever designed the new children's area also got that and did a good job sectioning off the kids area with glass panel walls. You still feel like you are a part of the bright and airy library but aren't worried about your kid being a bit noisy and getting grumpy stares.
So beyond the books, why visit? What makes this place a bit better? Lots of Toronto libraries have interactive play areas but I don't think any of them can match the scale of this one. It really is a huge space and we have averaged at least 2 hours per visit before we even look at the books.
Here is a break down of our favourite parts of the new library renovations.
1. Feltro magnetic tiles & light wall
These magnetic tiles were a hit with the kids and a favourite of mine because of their beautiful soft wool construction. Each tile contains magnets which means they can be connected together. My kids created patterns on the floor and on the metal wall. They built them straight up as well and made forts. You can find the Feltro website HERE but it is a bit of a tease as they are currently unavailable to purchase. They were created by a Toronto designer and the website describes the toy as, "...an interactive and dynamic creative thinking tool." I absolutely agree! We love the open-ended play opportunities presented by this unique product. No affiliations here either (and we can't wait for the chance to get our hands on them at home!).
In the pictures you can also see the light wall. It's made up of hundreds of small circular lights which kids can turn to change the colours or turn off. It is a wonderful sensory experience for little ones. Unfortunately my kids fell into the wrong age to find it fun. They were a little too old to simply be fascinated by the light and colour and a little too young to have enough patience to turn each light and create patterns or pictures. I was the perfect age though! I loved twisting and turning them and trying to create shapes using the colours.
2. Metal / magnetic wall
My pictures by no means show the actual size of this wall because I was trying hard to not include other people's children in my pictures. It goes up to ceiling height and is wide enough for lots of kids to be lined up and play all at once. All the parts on the wall are magnetic and can be removed and turned in any direction to connect to other parts. This wall involves so much natural learning! Kids can drop balls through the tubes which means they are investigating gravity, forces, energy, slopes and angles. They see how the ball reacts to what they built and adjust their tubes accordingly. They add parts and remove them. They trial and test their creations. It is practical STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) fun at its best! Not to mention the benefits to children's development when they work with a vertical surface. Read more about vertical surfaces HERE.
3. Wooden blocks
There are boxes of these wooden blocks located throughout the children's area. Nearly every table is full of leftover pieces, which is so lovely to see. Some might see a mess, but I see evidence of play! There are tall towers and small houses, pathways and train tracks, forts and staircases...beautiful engineering work in its early phases. I don't think I need to sell anyone on the benefits of building blocks, but just in case here are a few advantages of constructive play:
4. Ball ramps
This is another popular area which I couldn't fully capture on camera because I didn't want to get other kids in the frame. There are loads of pieces of track for kids to pull apart and re-attach as well as a few sets of stairs and ball launch areas. More than enough space for a good number of children to enjoy together. The library requires a library card to 'take out' a ball for using on the ramps, but we forgot ours and used some toy cars we happened to have with us. I think the cars were actually better since they didn't bounce at the end and roll half way across the library!
These tracks are the same as the ones you find at the Ontario Science Centre and a favourite of my kids. Skills that kids are developing while playing here include motor skills (pulling and pushing parts together), social skills (negotiating with others or normal play with other kids), observation (watching how balls react to heights and slopes), questioning (thinking about how gravity plays a role or how changing parts changes the outcome).
5. Interactive play and learning stations
This KidsStop (the name of the interactive areas at various TPL locations) theme is transportation. The area is designed like a city scape with a large urban mural, buses and cars, apartment blocks and subway stations. There are so many small details scattered throughout that it is impossible to document them all here. I have picked a few key parts but you really need to go and explore! The majority of the space is made of gorgeous solid wood, with things like the carved alphabet table (with real items matching every letter) just asking you to trace your finger along it (a great way to practise letter shapes).
The space really is an early learning dream. The wall pictured above is full of small cut outs and tiny hidden surprises to discover. Under the city you can find cross sections of wires and pipes, subway stations and lost items, old dinosaur bones and more. The bus has a lovely poem full of alliteration on the side. The words to "The Wheels on the Bus" float under the windows. The steering wheel and levers move. There is a measuring tape with coins from around the world running up along the side. So much thought was put into the space to make it accessible and relatable to the community who uses it.
The car and bus are large enough for 2 drivers as well as passengers in the back. Kids will be begging to drive their parents around and dramatic play will abound! There are holes to poke fingers and faces through, familiar nursery rhymes and songs, story prompts and more. I really can't say enough about the space and I'll just end this by saying if you live within a half hour of the library, it really is worth a visit. Heck, I'll even say if you live an hour away it's still well worth a visit. It's a library so everything is free of course! What better value can you get than that?
The North York Central Library is most easily accessed by the North York Centre TTC station. Let me know if you have managed a visit!
Children's books and learning go hand in hand for me. For ten years in a classroom, I structured entire units of learning around either mine or my class's favourite stories. Whether the kids were 11 years old or 4 years old, picture books and novels were always our leaping off point for learning. Now that I have kids of my own, that hasn't changed. Except we use books as a starting point for our play and exploration.
So why do we play with our books? Taking ideas or characters from a story and creating playful opportunities with them really helps deepen our understanding of what is going on in the text. Interacting with a book through a craft or sensory activity appeals to different learning types because it is now kinesthetic (hands on) as well as auditory (hearing) and visual (seeing). The more we understand, the more we tend to enjoy something.
Now I can't say this enough to parents - helping your child develop a love and joy of reading is one of the most important things you can do for them in life. It quite literally can level the playing field for their learning journey. Studies have proven that pupils who read for pleasure are at more of an advantage than pupils with parents who went to university. So KIDS WHO READ FOR FUN have an advantage that is FOUR TIMES GREATER than the advantage you already gain if you have a parent who attended higher education (read more from the study HERE). That stat just blows my mind every time I hear it.
So yeah, playing with books is a pretty big priority in our house. A few months back I was lucky to meet some other ladies online who also feel pretty similar. They value play as much as we do and like to get creative with their books. I wanted to highlight a few of them here so you can have even more places to turn to when you need bookish inspiration!
If you aren't on Instagram yet, my only question is why not? I know some people don't like sharing personal photos so they shy away from certain types of social media. These days though, social media is more like a massive resource bank and community group. You don't even have to share photos to take advantage. Want a recipe? Search a hashtag. Enjoy interior design? Search a hashtag. Want a suggestion for what to read next? Search a hashtag. Thinking about getting a tattoo? Search a hashtag.
Love these book inspired play ideas? Then try out the hashtag #bookishplay. It now has more than 2,000 tags on Instagram. Teri from @petitbookcorner (pictured above), gathered the group together and got the ball rolling with the #bookishplay tag. It really is a great way to find ideas for activities that you can pair up with books. Other great hashtags for book and play ideas are #bookinspiredplay, #beyondthebook, #bookactivity.
Do you have a favourite book and can't find an activity to go with it? Here are some simple ways to to design your own book inspired play.
1) Create, colour, make!
Art projects are one of the easiest ways to interact with books. In Teri's example above, they made the paper dolls from the story. For little ones, adults can always draw or cut the main shape and little hands can colour and decorate. In the example below from Lycie at The Paige Diaries, they used the beautiful illustrations in The Rainbow to inspire their art. You can simply colour a picture of a character or try to sketch in the style of the artist. You can sculpt an object from the story or build one out of paper. Possibilities are as endless as your art supplies!
2) Sensory trays
Little kids and big kids alike enjoy plunging their hands into interesting materials. Anyone who goes to preschool or has been to a play group will have experienced a water or sand table. They are always popular and not only because they appeal to the senses. Kids can scoop, pour, separate, cut, ball up, toss and crumble the materials. Don't stop at water and sand though. Try oats, like Lycie did (above right) to go along with Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Try stones, water beads, pine cones, corn kernels, cloud dough. Can you create a scene similar to one in a book? Add a toy or character similar to one in the book? Get creative and remind your little ones of the story as they play by using vocabulary from it or encouraging talk about the characters.
3) Story baskets & Invitations to play
An invitation to play is a sort of curated play space. You might choose a set of toys that go well with your story and leave them on a table with a book for your child to discover after a nap, before dinner (while you are making it!) or when they get up in the morning. If you can read the book again together, even better. Then let your little one explore what you have left for them. There might be finger puppets like Sian had out above, to go along with Little Red Riding Hood, or a cape for some imaginative play. We explored books about colour once and our invitations to play were simply a collection of toys that were the same colour. The important thing is to let your child lead the play and not to have expectations that they will fully recreate the story or build a masterpiece with the materials.
4) Invitation to create
Similar to above, an invitation to create is when you leave a set of materials out and allow kids to explore them as they choose. Jacqui at Playful Wren set up a lovely craft prompt to go with See You Later Alligator (above right). Depending on your child's age, they may just mush, stick, bend or fiddle what you left out. If they are a bit older or very craftily inclined they may create an amazing character from the story. The important part is that they are engaging with the story in any way they choose.
5) Review a concept
Often books present important concepts that you probably want to reinforce. It could be about kindness. Or part of a bedtime routine. Or a safety concept like waiting at traffic lights, like you can see Meg from Bedtime Stories Forevermore worked on in the picture (above right). Books are so valuable when it comes to learning life skills, so playing with those ideas and rehearsing them can really help our little people remember to use them.
6) Be the character!
This was one of my absolute favourite ways to make books come to life in the classroom - by doing what the character does! Think about what the character is doing in the story. Is there anything you can recreate together? Scroll back up to see how Teri put on a tea party to go along with The Tiger Who Came to Tea. Kim from Book Bairn (above) had her wee one try out new shells like in the story Norman's New Shell. My little guys loved writing invitations to post after reading Postman Bear. It might take a bit more thought and creativity to come up with, but this kind of play is one of the best.
So there are 6 ways to get started with your own book inspired play. We haven't even touched on bringing in more traditional learning like the alphabet and numbers. We'll leave that for another post but you can search one of the bookish hashtags we suggested and you'll see lots of ideas for those. Also, we've included a list of all the other #bookishplay participants from July below. Please do click through to their Instagram accounts for an absolute treasure chest of play ideas.
Do you have a truck loving tyke in your house? Read on for a recap of our favourite truck related books and fun activities to help bring the books to life. They are all loaded on the website now for you to enjoy. We started with the now classic Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. We did some shadow shape matching, an invitation to play (wash any trucks lately?), made a yummy truck 'dirt' cake and worked on some initial sounds linked to truck names.
Read more on the Goodnight, Goodnight activity page HERE.
Little Excavator is brought to you buy the author of Llama, Llama, Red Pajama and is just as cheerful and wonderfully rhythmic. We did some sensory play with our little trucks and made some noise inspired by all the amazing sounds in this book.
Read more on the activity page for the book HERE.
This book was a library find that was a winner because of all the different trucks on its pages. Our activities included lining up our own trucks in order of size, practising some truck patterning and making truck parts out of play dough.
Read about these activities in more detail on the book page HERE.
Ever since finding this book, our play has been filled with shouts of, "My truck is stuck!". I think it is a new favourite. So of course we had to do some activities based on trucks that are stuck. Try out our early STEM task comparing heavy and light objects or our bone counting task for preschoolers.
Read more about both HERE.
I was aiming to work a little bit here and there all summer to update the website. In reality, I spent a lot of time in the pool with my kids and didn't think much about this website at all. It felt great.
Once school was back in session however, I worked every minute possible trying to finish up everything. Although I had been sharing ideas on Instagram daily since April (and rather sporadically before that), it isn't really a user friendly search tool. I wanted to share the activities and books in a more useful way.
So it is finally ready! You can search by book in alphabetical order on the main page or look through alphabetical themes (trucks or underwater etc) by hovering over the tabs at the top of the page.
If you want us to review or cover any specific books, please get in touch. We are happy to do that! We are aiming to update the website monthly with our daily Instagram ideas...but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves just yet!
Summer and water go hand in hand, so we have been looking at some of our favourite books with an underwater or ocean theme. The website is now updated with the activities, so you can find them again easily! The Octonauts are big in our house and have taught us more about creatures under the sea than anything else. Some fun ideas to go along with the books include making ocean mosaics, catching alphabet fish in a net, creating habitat sensory trays and tracing your favourite creatures!
Read more about the Octonauts' activities on our book page HERE.
Julia Donaldson is another firm favourite in our house. We were lucky enough to see Tiddler performed on stage in London a few years back. Some activities we did to go along with this story-telling fish include making story-telling rocks, new vocabulary cards, LEGO and Duplo fish and learning roman numerals along with the clock in Tiddler's classroom.
Read more about our Tiddler activities on our book page HERE.
Requins by Owen Davey was a library find. This is a french version of his popular English version. The illustrations are enough to keep you entertained, even if you don't speak a word of French! Some activities we did to go along with this beauty include drawings based on the book, DIY puzzles and large scale chalk drawings of the large beasts found on the pages.
Read more about our Requins activities on our book page HERE.
Llama Llama Red Pajama somehow flew under the radar for me. I only discovered it when the author, Anna Dewdney, unfortunately passed away. It still took me until very recently to read it. Which is such a shame because I absolutely love it. I think I might even say it is my new favourite book. I was laughing out loud reading it to my kids, because I AM MAMA LLAMA!
Sleep is such a funny thing. As a kid you never want to go to sleep. As a young adult you stay up super late or all night with no real repercussion. You reach your late 20s/early 30s and you are now nicely settled into an early bed routine (maybe that was just me? I don't know) and properly appreciate a good sleep. Then you have kids and you miiiiiiiiss your sleep. I don't think I've slept for 8 hours straight in 5 years.
It is my own fault. I know that and I am not complaining. I did not want to sleep train (good for you if you did, we all make choices that work for us). We had the babies in the room with us for a long time. I breastfed all night long. Like every hour. For a long time. To be fair, once each kid reached around 1 year old, they were both pretty great sleepers. It is just all those things that come up and make them temporarily bad sleepers again. Like teething. Illness. Developing asthma. Getting rid of a dummy/pacifier. Transitioning to a bigger bed. Moving siblings into a room together. Moving house. Potty training. Nearby construction. Hot weather. Cold weather. Learning about monsters...the list could go on.
Aside from all the bumps in the road of sleep, there is the monumental task of actually getting them to drift off. I know some friends who after reading books, stick kids in their beds and walk out of the room. Job done. I know some who lay and cuddle kids for an hour until they fall asleep. I suppose in our house we fall somewhere in the middle. We could probably be a bit better at bedtimes. We probably let the kids drag it out longer than necessary. Part of me doesn't want to rush bedtime because they are only little for such a short time. Of course I have days where bedtime seems never ending so I leave the room and end up with little llama's screaming mummy, filling me with guilt as I pour a large glass of wine!
So it's those days, the off ones where bedtime isn't a smooth as it could be, that inspired me to focus on bedtime books this week. We've read them a million times but have never really done more with them. Maybe, just maybe, a little learning linked to these books about peaceful bedtime routines could help us out. We shall see.
Listed below are the books I am aiming to cover this week and a brief breakdown of some activities I thought would link nicely to them. As usual, I will post our activities on Instagram with more detailed descriptions of each task.
1) Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
I thought we'd start with some simple fun stuff. We love to play 'spot the mouse' in this book, so I'm going to create a 'spot the alphabet' hunt around the house for E. I thought a nice activity for both kids to do together is to remake the book within their own room - so take pictures of their room, then print them and create a similar story to read at night. Since F has been doing a lot of rhyming in school lately, we can pull out rhyming words from the story. Then I also want to look at the clocks on each page of the book and work out how long it take the bunny to sleep! If we feel scientific, we might even talk about how the moon rises on each page.
2) Mortimer by Robert Munsch
This book seems perfect for a little problem solving task. I want F to think about why Mortimer does what he does. Then I want him to think of what the family could do differently. Next, for both kids I thought it would be fun to write a new song for Mortimer (need to prepare myself for them singing it at bedtime though!). Then I thought we could even make music to go with it.
3) Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
When little llama starts to freak out, he does some great actions I thought my little guy would have fun copying. I might even go so far as have him use actions to retell the story and get big bro involved. As with many of these books, there are wonderful rhymes, so will work on those with F some more. Since F often claims he is scared on his own at night, I thought it would be a good idea to look at fear related to the dark and what little llama is scared of in the story.
4) The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
For a bit of fun and vocabulary building, I want to have E try on big/medium/small clothes. The animals in the book follow a nice little routine, so I want to discuss our own routine and see if the kids want to change anything or add to it. For a bit of physical activity I want them to try out each exercise the animals do (probably not right before bed though!). We might try a bit of yoga or stretching at bedtime, depending on what they decide they'd like to do. I also want to highlight how the animals HANG UP THEIR OWN TOWELS!! Maybe that will inspire my kids try hanging things up. Just once even. Doesn't even have to be hung up. Let's just aim for not on the floor. That would be dreamy.
5) Bedtime for Peppa
So this obnoxious little piglet has made her way back into our lives. F went through a Peppa phase when he was little. It lasted 6 months and I haven't been happier for a phase of his to end! Now E has discovered her. We are trying hard to stick to books and not TV, which make her a little more bearable. To be fair, they often have really nice social stories about home life that kids relate to. This one in particular lays out the bedtime routine really well. To finish our bedtime book theme, I want to make a bedtime checklist together that involves how long each activity should (reasonably) last, decide how many books we can read or how long mummy/daddy stay in the room, how many songs are sung etc. Then we can make it up in a visual way for us to use each night. I'll be sure to report back if it works out!
Anyone else have tips for what works in their house? I am open to suggestions!
I've always been inspired by books. I used to love planning units for school that were based on books I loved or that the kids loved. They spark my own creativity. I've always said that I am not personally very creative, but give me something to work from and I have loads of ideas. So this week I finally picked Steam Train, Dream Train as my inspiration behind our play at home. I had been putting it off since there is so much in the book that my kids love. First of all trains. Big hit. Second of all, construction vehicles. Huge hit. A train car full of sand. Tick. An ice cream train. Tick tick tick! Basically all of our favourite things in one story. I don't want to simply review all the activities we did during the week, because I feel like I'm just repeating what I've already posted on Instagram. If you'd like to read about each of our activities in more detail, please visit our account by clicking here.
I love the ending of this book so much. It has that Toy Story feel to it. It made me think about what my children did or didn't believe in. It made me think about what memories they will have of their childhood. It made me wonder if they will think back and feel a bit of magic in them. This book makes me feel that childhood magic in me and it made me want to try and create a bit of that. So, taking inspiration from the book I thought I would set up their toys each morning doing something different. Day one was easy, I had all the toys out on the train table. I don't think the kids really got it though, as they are used to me having things set up for them to explore in the mornings. It just looked like an invitation to play with trains. So I realised I needed to get a bit more creative the next day.
So on day two they found the above picture at the end of their bed when they woke up. Some of the stuffed animals were having a story read to them. My 4 year old was still sceptical, asking me why I put them there. I denied it but he wasn't convinced. That just made me want to up the game. It also made me a bit sad that by 4 (okay, almost 5) he wasn't a 'believer' anymore!
Day three - they awoke to a group of toys having a snack together. A bit of coffee, an apple and an ice cream. I wasn't up with them that morning so I didn't see their immediate reaction. Later that day though we were all playing together and I saw the ice cream wrapper on the floor. I asked who had been eating ice cream and my 4 year old said 'the hulk'. I was so happy! He was either starting to believe it or just appeasing me.
I'm going to keep it up for a few more days. At the end I plan to revisit Steam Train, Dream Train and see if they connect the idea. Or at least make them wonder. What are those toys up to at night?
I'd love to hear other people's ideas for how they add a bit of magic and wonder to their kids' lives. I suppose just books alone do that though!
I started this blog to motivate myself to create more interesting and meaningful play for my kids. I suppose it was also to get myself to document more of what my kids do at home day to day. Looking back over the past two months, I think I have done just that. It certainly makes my days busier and more hectic, but in a good way. When I was a classroom teacher, my life was insane! I was at school from 7am until 4pm most days. I rushed home for a short play, then dinner and bedtime routine. Once bubs was settled, I would sit up marking and/or creating resources all night. Saturdays were devoted to kids but Sundays were once again planning/resourcing/marking. I spent hours creating fun learning opportunities for other people's children. It felt like I could never catch up with my own life and the time with my kids didn't always feel like it was 'quality'. Hence our decision to move back to Canada and for me to stop teaching (for a while).
When we first got to Canada, there were a lot of other things keeping us busy. We had to sort out our living situation, unpack, complete multiple renovations, catch up with old friends, visit relatives, sort out health care, schooling, find jobs etc. Just getting 'life' working seemed to take months. Actually, about half a year!
I have digressed, as usual. I just wanted to say that I'm happy with the direction this blog has taken. I'm sure everyone starting a blog has a number of hesitations and direction changes as they move along.
I used to love planning school lessons and units around books. I wasn't quite sure I could make it work at home, but I think I'm getting there. Usually an idea pops into my head as we are reading books together before bed. After they are asleep, I will sit and plan some play activities to follow up with over the next few days and then revisit the book again to really link the ideas together. The other way I've been planning is using a current interest of theirs and then visiting the bookshelf or library to find books that relate.
My toddler is a huge fan of all things on wheels at the moment - especially construction vehicles and emergency vehicles. And trains. And planes. Okay, anything on wheels. Lately he has been going around and putting out fake fires, which always makes us giggle. Out of nowhere he shouts, 'Fire!' and then uses his arm like a hose and makes a 'shhhhhh' noise of water spraying. So I thought I would plan some stuff around that. We really lucked out last weekend when we went to an event where all the city works vehicles were there and the kids got to climb inside them all (fire trucks, diggers, garbage trucks, you name it). They also got all sorts of cool little handouts like plastic firemen hats, activity books and build your own fire trucks.
So to start my fire truck theme, I set up an invitation to play. I included lots of things to manipulate like letters, wooden blocks, little people, various fire trucks, tissue paper fires, a library book we got about fire stations, the build your own fire truck from city event and of course the fire hats. Since my older one was home, the play took a turn towards building. They put fire out by smashing the blocks down and then rebuilt them over and over. It is funny how differently my toddler will play when he is alone and when he is guided by his sibling's influence.
Later on I got out our string activity book which has a fire truck page (picture above). They did that together really cooperatively. We also worked through one of the fire activity books that was handed out on the weekend. There was a lot about fire safety in it, so I am planning a bit of hands on fire safety. I am hoping to build a fire together outside and discuss how to keep safe around it. This will be good preparation for being around camp fires this summer! I'm also planning a few outside games with our water pump/squirters. Not sure what I will build yet, but something that resembles a fire that they can aim for and knock over. I'm sure it will turn into some wet sensory play all on its own. For a more physical activity, I want to set up a fire person challenge - a little obstacle course that will involve climbing a ladder at the end. Finally for a quiet activity aimed at my toddler I want to try and sort out some objects into groups of 'hot', 'cold' and 'warm'. The in-between category is pretty tricky for him, so I thought this was a perfect time to review it with him. Of course I'd like to throw in some kind creative/messy arts and crafts, but that idea is still in the works.
As usual I'll be posting all my ideas on Instagram, so please do check it out for updates! I hope loosely explaining my planning process helps someone else in a small way! I'm always interested in seeing and hearing other peoples ideas and how they come up with them. That is probably why Instagram and Pinterest are such guilty pleasures!
Mark making or putting pen/crayon/pencil to paper, whatever you want to call it, was never something my boys had much interest in when they were young. If we talk about table activities - then mine love crafts and painting, cutting and pasting, gluing and sticking, but are/were not huge colouring fans or 'mark making' fans. My 4 year old started kindergarten and still wasn't interested. A tiny piece of me worried a bit, as much as I told myself not to. A few months into kindergarten though and he was writing up a storm. His letters are hard to read and all over the place with size and shape, but that part really doesn't worry me. He likes writing. That matters. He enjoys it. That matters.
I thought with my younger one perhaps I needed to present more opportunities to draw and colour. I was on the ball with early letter recognition (see my last post about having the alphabet in about a hundred places in our house) but maybe I didn't pull out the pencil enough? Who knows...it is all trial and error with parenting because each kid is so different.
I had never really heard of an 'invitation to play' before I became a mother. The majority of my teaching career was with older kids, so our learning was set up quite differently. Since having kids though and moving to work with younger children, it is something I encountered quite a bit. In the UK, children can start school as young as age 3. They don't have to, but the option is there. In Canada it is similar, kids can start at age 4 (JK) but don't have to legally be in school until age 6. After returning from my second maternity leave, I had the pleasure of covering in a nursery class (age 3-4) quite frequently for a term. It was lovely to see how they invited kids to play at various tables and stations throughout the room and in the outside space.
Even if you've never heard the term before, an 'invitation to play' is pretty self explanatory. If you make a space look appealing or interesting, children will come and investigate. That is really what 'learning' at age 3 looks like. I'm not going to pretend that I do this every day in my own house, but I do try to set something up each week for my toddler. It is in no way on the scale I would set up a classroom, but I like having a little table in the play room that I change around. It sometimes makes old toys seem interesting again.
I'm pretty excited these days because my 2 year old is really into naming colours. I love, love, love this age! Listening to his language develop and increase, blows my mind. I also happen to love colours and it is a natural stage all kids go through. Everything we see walking down the street gets labelled by its colour. Every toy is called by its colour. Colour is everywhere! It is probably one of the first adjectives that children start to use naturally when describing things. Don't let that skill pass them by!
Aside from inviting my kids to play with particular toys, I always like to link our play with a story. We visit the library all the time to keep on top of things but also have a pretty big collection of books. Loads of baby board books cover the colours but my favourite has to be a colours primer by Jennifer Adams. She has a whole series based on famous pieces of literature but that really focus on things like shapes or numbers or emotions. If you haven't seen them before, check them out.
Hello! I'm Deb,
a book-toting mother of two and an elementary (primary) school teacher. I love making stories engaging and interactive for kids.
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