Somebody sent me a private message asking me how I manage to spend quality play/learn time with J when I also have G to contend with!! Good Question! I haven’t been able to reply as those little children I just mentioned, deleted the message when fiddling with my phone! So, if you were that person, I AM VERY SORRY for not replying and this is dedicated to you!!
As with any frazzled, sleep deprived, exhausted, blissfully happy parent, juggling everything is difficult! Add to the mix, trying to support early learning through play and it can be VERY hard! As I’m heavily pregnant and approaching the due date, I am finding it SO challenging to write up my posts and the ways in which I’m setting up activities is changing too, as I need them to be EVEN MORE open-ended than they were before (if at all possible)!! I also try to wait for G’s nap time so that play is more meaningful between J and I. Failing that, it is mixed age play or J plays on his own, which incidentally, is very good for him too!
So, this is how I am doing it… I put G down for a nap and have a mad ten minute waddle dash around to set up a game!
I’m not a big fan of sitting my children down with a ‘work book’ or ‘activity book’ as they are quite one dimensional and do not allow for freedom and creative play if used as they are meant to be used. There are some nice ones though that lend themselves to be adapted!
For this Literacy Afternoon play I used:
- Some colourful pictures cut out of a ‘Phonics Activity Book’ and stuck them to some card.
- A sun shade with the alphabet on…
- A plastic tub filled with all our letters; magnetic, from puzzles, wooden, stencils, moulds, foam and so on.
As G was in bed, it gave J and I some quality play time! Waiting for nap time, means I can really focus on J and get some lovely, natural and valuable learning out of our play. I let J lead what we do and here’s what we got up to in our Literacy, open-ended hour and half worth of play…
J rummaged and searched for sounds in the tub. Sometimes pulling them out and saying the sound and sometimes asking if I knew what it was. He likes to test me!
He sang the ‘ABC’ song and pointed to the letters on the sun shade…
He looked at the colourful pictures stuck on the card and found the initial sound for each picture e.g. ‘s’ for snail, ‘d’ for duck, ‘b’ for banana and so on!
He challenged himself further with this by getting some tongs to move the sounds to the appropriate picture.
He then matched the sounds to the sounds on the sun shade and also asked me what the ‘name’ of the letter was, e.g. ‘AY, BEE, CEE, DEE’ etc I would strongly recommend for parents of those 3 years and above to find out, if possible, what your preferential school does when teaching phonics. Most schemes/ approaches focus on the ‘SOUND’ the letter makes but others teach the ‘SOUND’ and ‘NAME’ alongside each other. My little boy has just been given his school place and the scheme they use teaches both from the beginning so, I will support this approach by doing the same at home! It’s definitely worth finding out as soon as you can. Home/School consistency and partnerships are crucial and make a massive difference!
Later J moved on to a different surface! He dug out all the magnetic letters and stuck them to the radiator. As he ‘sorted’ them he said the sound and told Mummy words that begin with that sound… e.g. ‘i for igloo!’
To finish off our play time, I made some CVC words on the radiator and J had a go at blending and reading them for me! I only did this with a few as J decided he wanted to make a letter tower and proceeded to stack the letters on top of one another on the floor! I didn’t get a photo of that as Little Miss woke up!
Hopefully this shows you how really simple items can be gathered to allow for open-ended learning through play. Your child/ren will maybe do similar things to what J did or something completely different. The reality is, it doesn’t matter. Having you there with them to play with, support and playfully learn together is what matters most!!