There are so many things we want to teach our children and, it seems, so little time. Okay, okay, the days DO seem long, but the years truly are short. Here’s a great toddler activity schedule that will help you make use of your day while creating opportunity to teach your children the things you prioritize for the family.
A while ago I was thinking about the things I want to input into my children before they leave me for school. That is, if I let them grow up. I’m still debating. I decided I wanted to spend our time together focusing on the following 5 general areas: spiritual, musical, athletics, arts, and education. Shortly, like a download, I had an activity plan before me I knew I could follow with minimal stress or worry. I found an acronym I’d easily remember, and S-E-A-M-S was born. Here’s how I do it.
S: Spiritual (Monday)
E: Educational (Tuesday)
A: Artistic (Wednesday)
M: Music (Thursday)
S: Sporty (Friday)
1. Helps identify children’s gifts, talents and interests
I have a weird fear that one of my children will grow up and when I get to heaven I’ll find out they actually could have been a prodigy at something. Or that they had a talent I should have been discovered. Of course that’s weird, but nobody ever called me normal. Part of why I love SEAMS so much is that it can help us identify our children’s’ talents early on. If Jimbob is chomping at the bit for Musical Thursdays and Daisy Mae asks for Artistic Wednesday every day then you have a clear indication of where some of their gifts and talents may be.
No need to put Susie in a dance class when you know full well she is a lot more interested in the piano. One child might show great skill at drawing and, as early as you catch it, you can help cultivate it. I don’t mean use this as an opportunity to overwhelm them with supplementary activities in hopes of creating a child prodigy. I simply mean we can help naturally develop these talent week in and week out and it will give us an indication of what activities they may prefer down the line.
2. Easy is the name of the game
It should be noted, when I say easy, I mean easy. If possible I try not to spend any money unless it’s on a supply that’ll last me through a few crafting sessions or activities, ie, finger paint, glue, flashcards, books, etc. I try to think of activities that I can do with things around the house, yard or neighbourhood. If I’m feeling adventurous we’ll go out, of course, but I don’t make a mountain out of each day’s activity.
3. Same time each day
The sweet spot time-wise for us is after my youngest’s morning nap and before lunch. Each day, around the same time, we get set to do some activity. The kids know that something is coming and it helps build anticipation. Hence number 3…
4. Build anticipation
My oldest turns 2 on Tuesday so needless to say, we are still learning how to “do” activities. If it’s something she has no frame of reference for then it’s not as much fun for her. I’ve taken to explaining before hand with videos (YouTube is great here) what we’ll do. So, her first time finger painting (fairly self-explanatory I know) I showed her a few videos so she’d think it was exciting, cool and get super pumped when we pulled out the paints. And boy did she. Upon introducing the keyboard, show a video of children playing the piano and explain what it is, talk about music, etc. If it’s something new, build the activity up by showing videos or giving explanations that help them to get into it. It sets the mood and it makes it feel more legit.
5. Take it out of the house when possible and convenient
Normally we stay at home because it’s easier that way but today, for Sporty day (aka, physical activity of any kind day) we went to the pool. Sure it wasn’t a “lesson” per se but they got their exercise, and that’s what matters.
6. It gives the day purpose
After my youngest was born I stopped SEAMS for a while, but my husband noticed I was in a funk and suggested I start back. I am so glad I did. I look forward to our time together and try to keep it new and fresh and it just gives the day some purpose. I know that, as they grow older, it’ll open up many opportunities and windows to really expose them to the things I value and I hope it will make some good memories.
Here are some ideas for each day. The key here is to go with your style. If you are a natural preschool teacher and can think of activities left and right you’ll find yourself at ease. If you’re like me and enjoy activities, but find it challenging to think of new ones, then google and pinterest are our friends! Some activities will cross over a few areas, which is even better. It isn’t to be a stickler for the rules, but just to be inspired to use these years when our kids are at home to expose them to a number of things of our own choosing.
Bible story videos
Read Bible stories or stories with morals
Read the Jesus Storybook Bible
Prayer sticks (my mom made these and the kids love them)
Learn the books of the Bible in song
Go to the Christian book store
Read story on Lazarus’ being raised from the dead + mummy wrapping the kids in toilet paper
Act out Bible stories
Visit the elderly from your church
DIY gifts for others
Counting and recognizing numbers
learn a foreign language
Grow plants or gardens
Read book pertaining to a season/holiday/event happening in your life
Inside safari (hide stuffed animals and DIY some binoculars)
Teach on melting and do DIY candles from crayons
Stickers – paints – gluing
Learning and matching colors
Enact a play
Construction paper garland
Make Christmas ornaments
Fun and easy crafts with toilet paper rolls
Colorful crafts with paint chips
Letter coloring pages
Washable sidewalk paint
Play scarves (great for imagination and dress up)
Play / learn an instrument
Dress up dance parties
Freeze dancing (stop and start the music)
Filling glasses with colored water at various heights and tapping to hear different tones
Noise time (put pasta in cans/bottles and play drums)
Hide-the-music for the child to go seek (helps them hone their sense of hearing)
Practice current development milestones
Crawling through tunnels
Running / jumping / rolling
Learn to throw / catch / kick a ball
Stuffed animal obstacle course
Go for a walk
Play on the slides / jungle gyms / playground
Pushing + Pulling
Paper plate + balloon ping pong
Hopefully these few ideas will give you a jumping off point. It’s a great way to help encourage and validate your children’s interests as well. Does one love butterflies? On educational day you can learn about butterflies and on artistic day you can draw and make paper butterflies. Let their current phase of life and the seasons and holidays around inspire you. I do so hope that my kids will remember (as much as one can remember about their early days) our time together with fondness, and I think these quality times will be a big part of that.
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