We are enjoying cooler fall weather while trying to fit in as much fun as we can in these last few weeks of class for the semester! This week, we have some activity ideas for practicing directions and labeling where things are in space. This is a tricky tool for non-native English speakers, as well as toddlers! For toddlers, they are still very egocentric, meaning that the world revolves around them! This often includes relationships and conversations but also understanding where objects are – they understand where items are in relation to themselves (your shoes are behind you) but have a harder time understanding where items are in relation to the world in general (your shoes are behind the tree). Understanding spatial relations apart from themselves is a skill they have to develop over the next several years, as is the skill of putting themselves in someone else’s shoes, or empathy.
When talking about this skill in class, we realized that coming up with directional words, or prepositions, for practice can be difficult, especially for moms who are non-native English speakers. So, here’s a video that gives vocabulary and demonstrates it with a cat and a box!This ESLKids page also has lists of prepositions with free, printable worksheets.
CRAFT/ACTIVITY#1: Threading a “Tree” with fruit loops (idea source: activity-mom)
Supplies: uncooked spaghetti noodles, play dough, and fruit loops (or cheerios, etc.)
This activity can be a practice in prepositions, as you talk with your toddler about where the different items go, e.g. the spaghetti noodle goes into the playdough, then the fruit loops go over and on the noodle, one above the others that are below…). However, this is more specifically designed as an activity for developing fine motor skills, so this hits two birds with one stone. Since it’s fall and we are celebrating trees, we chose to use green play dough to serve as grass and call our creations “Dr. Seuss trees,” depending on how colorful your fruit loops want to be! Plus, green grass and a tree work well with our song for the week!
SONG RECOMMENDATION: “And the Green Grass Grew All Around…”
Here’s one of the youtube versions that includes lyrics, of which I enjoyed the cartoon and think any toddler would, as well. They say the tree was in the forest instead of in a hole, which is the version Barney sings and that I remember, but this song definitely gives room for improvisation! You can put anything on your tree branch and go into as much detail as your little one likes, and you can point to items on your craft or in a picture or act out being trees yourselves when you sing this familiar tune.
The Bears’ Picnic by Stan & Jan Berenstain
This book is a hunt for the perfect picnic spot, where the bears wind up beside a train, next to mosquitoes, underneath an airplane, dumped on by trash, in the rain, hit by lightning, etc., with green grass growing all around.
Animalia by Graeme Base
This author writes books with amazing illustrations, stock full of animals and images, that can serve as a seek-and-find activity on each page. Finding the baboon with the bassoon or the animal underneath the tree, etc. lends itself to practicing prepositions and directions. This book goes through the letters of the alphabet and is a treasury of pictures.
CRAFT/ACTIVITY #2: Coffee Filter Autumn Leaf Tree (idea source on Pinterest)
Supplies: coffee filters, (washable) markers in fall colors, water (preferably in a spray bottle or a medicine dropper), scissors for cutting out leaf shapes and glue for attaching them to a “tree”, and some sort of “tree” made of a fallen branch or just with paper
We’ve done this activity before, minus turning them into leaves – Here’s our strategy:
- I set her up at the table that is covered with a castoff shower curtain, of course any surface that can get wet would do
Pen Elaine drew with a marker, however she wanted, on a coffee filter
- I sprayed her coffee filter with water, generously, about 3ish sprays
- I helped her to crumple the wet coffee filter into a ball and mop up any colored water off the table
- Finally, we gently and carefully unfolded the filter and then hung it on a twine “clothesline” – later I decided just draping it over the clothesline worked best