Incase you missed yesterday’s blog, I have decided to do a series this week about the Learning Tubs that I do with the boys. Yesterday, I gave you a look inside our Alphabet Tub, and today, I am going to give you a look inside our Animal Tub, which includes several activities you can do to help your child begin to identify animals and their noises while also working on their literacy and motor skills.
Meeting Children’s Needs
I think one of the biggest adjustments going from one child to two is that you can’t meet every need of both children at the same time or at the exact moment in which they want or need something. Sure, I meet their needs, but one child might have to scream and cry for a minute or two before that need is met. Or said child may have to play independently when they don’t want to while I’m working with the other child. They both want my undivided attention all. the. time. I need a clone.
Go ahead and cue that Mom Guilt; however, I have become very good at blocking out crying and tantrums over the past 17 months. I’m totally ok with that because to me, you don’t want to give attention to negative behavior anyways.
With all that being said, I have found it more and more difficult to teach James and Weston at the same time. Y’all, they’re only 15 months apart. Again, how do those homeschool momma’s do it?? Weston can’t do the things James can, but he WANTS to. This means if James is working on something at the table, Weston is pulling it off the table. If I am sitting in the floor showing James something, Weston is sitting in my lap knocking it out of my hands. If I give up and try to give Weston the same thing James is doing, Weston eats it. Jesus. And. Wine.
Oh it takes me back to teaching. Differentiated Instruction. For all 23-30 students. You are to meet every child’s needs, by yourself, without the resources you need, with kids on a minimum of three different grade levels, but you better get it done and you better make everyone happy in the process. It’s called differentiation. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED teaching, but that is the reality of what a teacher does day in and day out.
One of the things I loved most about the last school I taught at is that we truly did do whatever it took to meet the needs of every child. We wanted to meet those needs, and we did, but that doesn’t mean it was easy. Some days though, that seems easier than meeting the needs of my own two kids. At least no one was throwing things at me, having a toddler tantrum, or throwing down because I gave them a blue plate instead of a purple plate.
So within our tubs, I try to put activities that either both kids can do and enjoy, or I put in activities on different levels (differentiation – see what I did there) so that they can be doing different things at the same time – ha, in a dream world anyways, you know that doesn’t actually happen. Animals are a little easier to do this with, as it’s a great skill for Weston to work on, as it’s more on his level. It’s much easier for me to enrich an activity for James, as there are some things that Weston just isn’t cognitively ready to learn yet.
Here is what we have going on in our Animal Tub this week:
- Books – As always, I start off reading the boys books on whatever subject matter we are discussing. I’ve been doing this with James since he was born, and now he loves to read! Weston isn’t to that point yet, but hopefully, he will be the same way. We are really enjoying Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Noisy Farm, baby’s very first noisy book farm, and I Spy in the Jungle (Jellycat Book). The boys especially love the two books with the noisy buttons they can push, because well, toddlers.
- Puzzles – We have multiple animal puzzles the boys enjoy, but we have two specific puzzles that are great for younger toddlers to start off with: Fisher-Price Growing Baby Animal Activity Puzzle and a Melissa and Doug FarmWooden Chunky Puzzle similar to this one, only with different animals. We also have this puzzle, which is made of several mini puzzles. It is better for James, as it is more difficult. Not all of the mini puzzles are of animals, but I sort the animals out and have James piece them together. There are only 3-4 pieces per mini puzzle, and it allows him to see the different sections that make up the animal as well as the spelling of the animal.
You probably can’t tell, but this is an example of brother pitching a fit he can’t get on the table to do what James is doing.
- Fisher-Price Little People Farm Animal Friends – These have been great for both James and Weston. Weston uses them to practice animal recognition and noises, whereas James using them to match the animal to either animal flashcards or the animals we are reading about in a book. For instance, if we are reading a book and it shows a cow, James will pick out the cow farm animal and show Weston that they correspond with one another.
- Beach Ball Animals – So we use a beach ball because it’s what we had, and I’m all about using what you have. Don’t reinvent the wheel people! But you could also make a cube out of paper if you’re crafty to have the same results. I simply put a picture of a different animal on each section of the beach ball (just google a picture and hit print). We throw the ball back and forth and which ever animal it lands on (aka whichever animal James feels like doing), has to be named, and he has to tell me what noise the animal makes. I also have him act out how the animal moves. This is an easy activity to differentiate as well, as you can interchange the animals and make them more difficult as they progress. WARNING: If your kids like to destroy things like mine, there will be a small window of time before they rip the pictures off. Shocking, I know. Just being real.
These are the things making up our Animal Tub this week! I will alternate books, puzzles, and activities as the boys start to master them or disengage in the current ones. What animal activities do you do with your little ones?