You know how time moves at the speed of lightning with one child? Throw another one in the mix and I need another analogy for something that’s faster than lightning. It’s bound to make a mama feel a little inadequate in the parenting department when it seems like the only conversation you had with your little one comprised of “No!” and “Don’t do that!” So, in true overachiever form, I overcompensate by throwing activities into the tornado of the day. Then I feel like the activity is rushed and any educational value in it is diminished, but at the same time I feel accomplished because I “did” something with my child. (Naturally, the lesson to take away here is to take as much joy in your everyday moments as you can. Or, put more one-on-one time into the activity so it has more meaning.)
The other day I threw togther these self-correcting shape sticks to introduce to Liam. The plan was to sit down with him and practice how they work a few times so that he gets a chance to be comfortable with them. He’s 25 months old; I don’t expect him to pick it up right away, but I did plan on taking a quality 10 minutes with my son to play with the sticks.
I got tongue depressor-sized wooden sticks and colored, circle labeling stickers. Obviously, you can only make shapes with straight sides. Since Liam’s only been introduced to basic shapes I’ve only begun with two shapes: triangle and square.
Self-correcting is a term that teachers tend to be familiar with if they make their own materials for their classroom. Self-correcting activities were a huge deal when I was in college for education. In some way, usually by color-coding, you make it possible for the child to check whether or not they did the activity correctly. Small children love their autonomy and self-correcting activities give them independence with the game.
Use the same color circle stickers for all sticks used for the triangle. I chose the green dots. I took three sticks for the three sides of the triangle and put green stickers on each ends of the sticks. I also took a Sharpie and wrote “triangle” on each stick. The child can check the color of the sticker and also the word. I will not claim that Liam can read, but it will help him become familiar with the word.
The child places the sticks together with green dots on top of each other and make the shape it says on the stick.
Choose a different color sticker for the sticks that create the next shape.
I show the sticks to Liam, explain how they work in simple, toddler terms, and let him explore the sticks on his mini table. I decided not to push him through the activity and just let him play with them.
Okay, so the creating shapes part didn’t happen this time, but most importantly he will forever remember that time Mommy made him that super fun game about making shapes….