Archive of ‘Play-based Learning’ category

Home Learning: Year 3

I’m a firm believer in learning begins at birth. Even our smallest infants are learning to process the tones of their families voices, the touch of hands gently stroking their head and the smells of dinner radiating through the house.

My Lydia turned three at the end of July. She is full of curiosity, joy and fantasy. Her vocabulary continues to expand and watching her make-believe play may be my favorite part of parenting. We continue to teach her at home- confidently following her lead, expanding her strengths and bringing up her weaknesses. As of now we are home-educating through an eclectic mix of learning philosophies.

I get asked all the time, especially now that she is three, what we are doing for school. My answer remains the same as it has since birth, “We play and read.”

But I am adding a tiny bit more structure to her play-based learning at this point. I have found that she loves having a theme at Roots and Wings Playschool and is delighted when I put together a display or books and toys based on a theme. Lydia is a naturalist to her core and an avid book reader, so I am using those interests as our pillars for learning this year. I will be doing quarterly themes.

September/October/November: Trees

September will focus on apples and introduce the beauty of trees bearing fruit.

October will focus on fall and the changing of seasons.

November will focus on giving thanks.

Each will be infused with literature, puzzles, and hands on learning about trees. We will dig deeper than we have before and work towards one of my “3 year learning goals” for her- identifying multiple trees in our backyard using her knowledge of leaf shapes.

December/January/February: Woods

December: Holidays/Winter (using The Little House Picture books as our guide)

January: Woodland Animals

February: Gnomes and Fairies

We will explore hibernation, animal homes, the changing of landscape, snow, and end with the whimsical study of fairies and gnomes.

March/April/May: Weather

March: Clouds/Rain

April: Sun

May: Moon

We will begin tracking our weather as we transition from winter to spring. We will explore outside and learn about the moon phases.

June/July/August: Garden

June: Seeds

July: Bugs

August: Flowers

We will enjoy summer gardening through the study of planting seeds, learning about all of the plants that make up our yard and neighborhood and watch our flowers bloom.

Most of these themes, I’ll just be doing activities that fit Lydia’s interest. We can add little learning themes throughout as we make our way through the year. I will pull from The Peaceful Preschool when appropriate. She knows most of her letters through play so we don’t explicitly teach them. I do plan to infuse letters and sounds into our themed studies a bit more than I have before since she loves language and is showing an interest in letters and reading. For those looking for suggestions on how we plan to integrate the letters with our themes, my plan is to loosely focus on a few letters each quarter. I will simply display them in our home and review them as they come up in books and our planned activities.

Sept-Nov Letters:

A- apple

F- Fall

G- Grandparents

H- Halloween

O- October

P- Pumpkin

T- Tree

J- Jack o lantern

Dec-Feb Letters:

B- Bears

D- Deer

W- Woods

X- ummmm… because I have nowhere else to put this letter

March-May Letters:

C- Clouds

K- Kite

M- moon

R- Rain

S- Sun

U- Umbrella

E- Earth

June-August Letters:

I- Insect

N- Nest

Q- Queen (bee)

L- Lettuce

V- Vase (flower study)

Y- Yellow

Z- zzzz sound from a bee? 🙂

Observer of Play

I’m an observer of play.

Yes, I do run a one day a week playschool, am a former teacher, and lead a playgroup. But those super prestigious(ha!) titles don’t compare to what I feel is my role in my community.

I watch little hands interact with dirt and sticks. I watch feet stomp and jump off rocks. I watch bodies twist coming down slides. I watch shoulders tense and ease as the children engages in a new game.

I listen to spontaneous songs belted out in the middle of a field. I listen to giggles as a centipede crawls on messy hands. I listen to the sweetest conversations as baby dolls interact. I listen to invitations to play, followed by engagement or toddler politics.

And I observe the parents while these incredible learning experiences are happening. I observe their words, or lack of. I observe their guidance, or simply their presence. And I observe their eyes, so clearly falling in love with their child over and over again, while they watch play.

It is such an incredible honor to take the time to observe this.

Play-based Minimalism Interview: Jenn Salsich

Our mission for our Interview Series is to hear from parents that believe in play-based learning but also attracted to a minimalist lifestyle. To us, “play-based minimalism” is about believing that children should be given the opportunity to play in an environment that is designed for learning and imaginative play but free of physical and “commitment” clutter.

This week, we are highlighting Jenn from SimplyOnEden, a wife and mom of three sweet kiddos.

How has “play-based minimalism” helped you as a mom?
“Reducing the amount of stuff and increasing the amount of space we have have been beneficial twofold. Personally, I am less stressed and spend less time talking to them about and actively cleaning the play spaces. Additionally, my children’s level of curiosity and creativity have really blossomed. Ultimately, we benefit from the calm and engaging atmosphere of a simmer play space and home
What is your philosophy of play?
“My philosophy on play is that learning and play are synonymous for children. When they play, they learn. I find that when they are struggling with a new skill, I can step back and approach supporting them by providing an engaging outlet to practice.  Each child learns differently so proving various forms of play allows each child to develop their own way into their true selves. “
What is your best piece of advice for parents designing their child’s play space or bedroom?
“Follow your child’s lead. If they are destroying their toy area and you find yourself constantly saying, stop climbing all over my furniture, sit back and observe.  They may, in this example, be focused on gross motor development. You may need to temporarily put toys away and climb a pile of pillows for a few days or use other gross motor toys. They tend to focus on one area of development at a time.  Observe what they seem to be naturally enjoying and gravitating towards and see what you can do within your budget, to support that. ”

What is your favorite toy for young learners?
“We have two… I can’t pick one over the other because they are both life changing for our family. The Grimm 12 piece rainbow is a tool we all use, from ages 1 to adulthood, and love. It allows for creative play and spacial awareness.  It goes from being a doll house to a pinball machine from one day to the next. Grimm toys are an investment but they are heirloom type toys that I hope to use with my grand kids some day far, far away.Secondly, we purchased the Gonge Riverstones and Hilltops. These work wonders for balance, coordination, sorting and so many other important pies of their development. Especially with busy children, having something that causes them to focus on their body seems to drastically improve their mood and helps them work out their extra energy. We use these inside and out and I cannot think of a better investment for your kids.  They are expensive but these will last for years and years and can be used from one stage to the next.”

Thank you for participating, Jenn!
Follow along with our series on Instagram, #playbasedminimalism.

Play-based Minimalism: Natasha

Our mission for our Interview Series is to hear from parents that believe in play-based learning but also attracted to a minimalist lifestyle. To us, “play-based minimalism” is about believing that children should be given the opportunity to play in an environment that is designed for learning and imaginative play but free of physical and “commitment” clutter.

It seems odd to highlight myself on the play-based minimalism series, but I have been asked many times to share my answer to these questions, so here it goes!

How has “play-based minimalism” helped you as a mom?
“Minimalism was a journey that my husband and I began prior to having our daughter. We felt pulled to make some changes, and each step brings us closer to the inner peace that we were craving. Our goal is to allow our children to flourish in an environment of calm, joy and intention. Play-based minimalism has helped me dedicate my time to playing and observing, rather than cleaning and organizing. It has given us the gift of free time as a family and the privilage to live a debt-free (minus mortgage) life. Minimalism and the practice of essentialism, truly makes me a better mom. I am more mindful of choices, mindful of my words and mindful of my actions because my mind is not cluttered like it used to be. This opens up so much time for joy and play!”
What is your philosophy of play?
“It is difficult to find a subject that I am more passionate about than play. I believe that giving children time for free play is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. My style of play is most similar to Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf style, where the emphasis is on imagination and learning through whimsy, with an emphasis on delaying academics. That being said, I also am a huge early literacy promotor and love seeing books come alive through play so I am drawn to Charlotte Mason’s teachings. “
What is your best piece of advice for parents designing their child’s play space or bedroom?
“I believe that play spaces should encourage imaginative play. This is my number one when looking at a play-space. Do the children have room to release their creativity? Do they have access to toys that are open-ended and offer many different play scenarios? I believe that natural materials like wood should be integrated into the play-space because it grounds the children and exposes them to more advanced textures and energy. Even with minimal toys, children have the urge to sort, fill, empty and organize. I make sure that there are baskets and bags for this critical play skill, even if the baskets remain empty when not in use.”

What is your favorite toy for young learners?
“My top three are blocks, baby dolls and fake food. These are three toys that remain out at all times for our daughter. They are used on a daily basis in different forms. The blocks may be parts of a house, phones, chairs or hats. That food may be set up for a birthday party, shared with a doll or thrown in the shopping cart on an urgent shopping trip. I am also loving our new Wave Board! This toy is the ultimate open-ended toy. It is amazing for sensory integration, movement and soothing. But it is also a beautiful piece that becomes a bridge that angry trolls live under, a slide for dinosaurs and a rocker for baby dolls. “
What atmosphere does “play-based minimalism” create in your home? 
“Minimalism in itself creates an atmosphere of intention. We are not stark minimalists, so we feel that our style allows us feel the calm embrace of intention without the harshness of a sterile environment. With less stuff, and less commitments, we are able to use our time the way we want to- hiking, reading, cooking, visiting parks and playgrounds and eating locally. I am a Type A Virgo, but have such a love for play and free time. Minimalism allows me to be content and organized while still enjoying and living my life. It is such a blessing. “
Follow along with our series on Instagram, #playbasedminimalism.

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