Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Toddler Table Time

Part of my weekly routine with Drew is a set time a few days a week that we sit down at his little table and do art or activities. This idea of parent-led play time is a suggestion from On Becoming Toddlerwise; the main idea being that mom picks the activity and the duration. This helps prepare toddlers for preschool or kindergarten (or life, really) where you don't just get to do what you want all the livelong day.

I call this part of our day "table time" and Drew calls "art? art? do artttttt?!" (in the cutest little voice possible!). On the mornings we do table time, it comes directly after his independent playtime in his crib (around 9AM). That way he's just come off of some alone time (and so have I) and is freshly ready to interact with mom, not tired, not hungry, and it's not quite warm enough to play outside yet. My entire goal at his age is to teach him how to sit at a table for a set amount of time and not get (too) distracted. We started at 10 minutes around 12 months old, and we're now up to 30 minutes at almost two years old. Eventually I plan to use table time to actually start teaching him things during this time (counting, letters, etc), but we are still working on staying engaged at the table for the whole 30 minutes for right now.

Here is a look at what is in our table time bins (as a side note: you can find many of these products - or similar products - in my Amazon Store if you want to try some at home with your toddler). (Psst - and here's a post I wrote about how to get started with Table Time!)

Button Art: great for fine motor skills, learning colors, matching colors
Letter magnets: for learning colors and letters (and spelling, eventually)
(or just for organizing, as Drew would prefer)
Card matching: I picked these up from the Dollar Store. One set is "things that go",
and the other set is animals. There are two of each picture so it's really
a card matching game but Drew just likes to organize the cards right now. I do try
to teach him "same" versus "different" but I don't think he's ready for that concept yet.
More cards from the Dollar Store: we just use these to name
objects that he knows the name of. And, of course, to organize.
Felt scenes: I got this idea from this blog. It took me a few hours one evening
to create all the scenes from left over felt I had on hand. He doesn't love this activity,
but I don't know that he totally understands how to use his imagination to change 
the scenes around yet.
Washable Crayola Markers: he would do markers at any moment of any
day, forever. Key word; washable. We're working on coloring 
on the page, but I learned quickly that washable markers are a must.
Crayons are out now that markers have been discovered,
but I'm still holding out hope that they'll come back around...
Tip: do not go cheap with the Dollar Store crayons, they don't work well at all!
Stickers: it has taken many months, but he's finally able to peel
the tiny stickers off and then place them on a page. I get all the stickers
from the Dollar Store.
The only thing not pictured is Play-Doh. We just have two mini tubs of Play-Doh right now, but that's enough to keep him busy. I have a few more activities I'm waiting to add into the rotation until after Baby Mary arrives (you'll see those in my Amazon Store) as I want to have some new things to do in the bins to freshen it up over the summer. .

Let's get mom-real for a moment: table time can be boring for me at times. There, I said it. I do love watching the wheels turn in my toddler's head, or watching his tiny fingers place stickers, or how he loves to show me all his creations...but also there are only so many times a grown woman can "do markers" before she wants to dump them all in the toilet and watch them slowly bleed out (and that woman would be me). So a few weeks ago we skipped table time completely for the whole week; I needed a break from it. I'm revealing this because not everything goes according to the schedule all the time around here and everyone (including me) still survives. Schedules are meant to serve you, not the other way around! The next week we resumed table time, and the markers lived to see another day...

Moms of toddlers...any activities your toddler loves that we should try for table time? I'm always looking for new ideas!

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  1. Glue!! Sticks or white glue. Cut out shapes or glue googly eyes, Pom poms, or shapes from cardboard. Paste onto paper. Tip: put the white glue into a little dish and spread with a Popsicle stick. My toddler loves stamps too. She got a stamp set for Christmas.