Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Jumpin' J- A Study in Teaching Petulant Toddlers

Toddlers are unpredictable, uncontrollable, and never act the way you want them to when you want them to. Which is great in that it means they’re becoming their own person, but not so great when you’re trying to do preschool. Today was one of those days. BooBoo has recently become VERY independent. Everything I try to help him with elicits a “No Mom! I do it!” or “No!!!” followed by a punch to my leg or arm… In other words, he’s driving me up a wall- adorably of course. I was going to write a post about my successful attempt to teach the letter ‘J’, but, instead, I’ll write down what my plan was and how it would typically work with kids- based on years and years of working with preschool aged children. Let’s just say it…didn’t happen with BooBoo.

"Please, no more pictures! Leave me to my independence!"

"Really? You're making me learn? Ugh."
 I decided to do a board game this week.
I drew out the squares and wrote different things to do on every third square or so. I mixed in “write the letter ‘J’” fine motor skill activities with more active activities like “jumping jacks” or “jam” (tunes on the radio and dancing). My idea was mixing in learning with activity. When teaching, I’ve found that short bursts of learning with intermittent moments of movement reinforces the principles being taught. That helps the children to remember what they’ve been taught after class is over for the day. I also had squares for “Jungle Hunt”. 
The idea behind  that was having BooBoo wear his Jungle Explorer Hat from our ‘H’ party and then pretend to find animals in a jungle. This is the only part he somewhat willingly participated in (besides the drawing part, his favorite, and the only thing he wanted to do.) I said “We’re going on a jungle hunt, what animals do we see?” and then we pretended to find animals and imitated what noises they’d make and what movements they’d do. We punctuated this with occasional “And what sound does J make?” “Juh juh juh!”
His favorite activity ever.

He did have a *little* help with tracing the 'J' that's visible, but his straight lines are getting pretty good.

I decided to write the whole alphabet underneath again so we could sing and point to the letters. It actually worked AND he attempted to write a letter 'D' free-hand; the boy will do anything if it involves coloring.

I made a die and only put the number 1 or 2 on each of the sides since the board wasn’t very big and I wanted to make sure we hit each of the activities at least once.
BooBoo has really been trying to learn his numbers lately, so this was a nice attempt at reinforcing both what they look like and the very basic counting it takes to get to those numbers. Now, he only counted once or twice before he went on strike, but I intend to do this again and I know having the repetition of counting will help.

At the end of the day, was this successful? In concept? Yes. In practice? No. Do I think it could be successful on a day that BooBoo is in better spirits/we don’t start with coloring first? Yes. Maybe I’ll put all the supplies needed for the activities in bags where he can’t see them so he doesn’t get fixated on one thing at the beginning. Might be smart… Maybe.

Be sure to check out our other letter activities

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