Make it Monday: Eight DIY Learning at Home Ideas with Bright Horizons

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bright Horizons Early Education and Preschool for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Happy Make it Monday! 

Now that Dahlia is getting older and a full on three-year-old, her ability to learn and think is getting quicker each and every day with her brain absorbing knowledge like a sponge. So, as a working mom, I am always trying to find more creative and fun ways to foster her learning and growth all while keeping up with my little lady and of course, having fun as well.


Luckily, Bright Horizons Early Education and Preschool helps parents like Jason and I to make learning at home easy and fun. Not only do they provide parenting resources like at-home activities and even Family Matters webinars that provide advice and strategies on current parenting topics, but most importantly, they align their more than 30 years of educational experience with elementary schools and national academic standards to ensure kids are school-ready with the curriculum they provide. So, you know that whatever they provide is going to be of quality, including these eight amazing yet simple at-home ideas on how you can help your infant, toddler and even pre-k child below:


Appropriate for Infants and Toddlers:


1. Basket Full of Treasures


YOU WILL NEED:

Basket, materials of different colors and textures: fur, fuzzy, synthetic fabric, silk, burlap, velvet, satin, metallic, chiffon, etc.

DIRECTIONS:

Place basket on floor with your child. Talk about textures as he pulls them out of the basket. Ask him questions like, “Which one is soft?” and “Show me the rough one.” Comment on his reaction to the materials by saying things like, “You like the velvet, don’t you?” and “Do you want to rub the satin on your arm?”

TIP:

Twelve by twelve inch squares of fabric are suggested to help prevent your child from getting tangled in large pieces. Keep an eye on the strings that unravel from the edges and trim them. Wash materials routinely.


2. Peek-a-Board


YOU WILL NEED:

Photographs of family members and friends, poster board and squares of fabric large enough to cover each photograph

DIRECTIONS:

Glue six to eight photographs onto the poster board. Attach the pieces of cloth to the board by gluing along the top edge of each photograph (to hide each photograph). Say to your baby, “Let’s find Aunt Agnes,” then lift the cloth, and comment, “Oh, here she is!”

TIP:

Add more and different photographs as your baby becomes familiar with the game.

3. Nature Collage

YOU WILL NEED:

A collection of leaves, seeds, grass, sticks, feathers, etc., tape, clear contact paper, and a piece of regular paper the same size or bigger than the contact paper.


DIRECTIONS:

Take a walk with your child and collect treasures from the ground. Tape a piece of clear contact paper, sticky side up, to a flat surface. Help your child arrange the treasures on the contact paper. Be cautious that young children don’t put small objects in their mouths. Then, lay the piece of regular paper on top of the contact paper and have your child press down so it adheres to the contact paper and acts as a backing.


TIP:

This can be done on a table or floor. On the floor, you tend to have closer physical contact with your child.


4. Beach in a Bottle


YOU WILL NEED:

A trip to the beach, lake or creek, and supplies: plastic bottle, super glue, permanent marker, and a label

DIRECTIONS:

Have your child fill the bottle with sand and water from the beach, along with his favorite sea shells or small pieces of driftwood. Seal the top using super glue (keep the glue out of your child’s reach and let the bottle dry before using it with him). Label with the date and location of your outing.

TIP:

At the beach, enjoy searching for “just the right” seashells. Ask your child, “Will a large one fit in your bottle?”; “How many do we need?”;  “Could a fish live in your bottle?”; “How much sand do we need?”; “Where does the sand come from?”; “Is the sand the same at all beaches?”

Try to stay away from seaweed and other living plants, since they are perishable and will rot after a while. Or, set the expectation that you’ll have a “throw-away” bottle that can only be used for a set amount of time.

Appropriate for Pre-school and Pre-K:

5. Messy Art Play

YOU WILL NEED:

Water, cooking oil, food dye set, paintbrush (bigger is better), sturdy paper plates, paper (solid color)

DIRECTIONS:

Experiment by mixing food dye colors with water and adding oil to see what happens. Then, add one drop of the dye and oil mixture onto the paper plate and have your child brush the paper with the paint brush. The color of the drop should move gently around the paper with the oil/water mix gliding over the paper.

TIP:

Cover the surface with newspaper or a craft tablecloth, because the table can become messy and slippery with the oil.

6. Story Cards


YOU WILL NEED:

Large index cards, magazine pictures, other funny card pictures

DIRECTIONS:

Work with your child to create story cards by gluing pictures from magazines or old greeting cards onto the index cards. Explain to her that you are going to make up a story about them. Start by asking her questions like: “What do you think happened here?”; “How do you think this person (or animal) feels?”; “What are they doing?”; “What will they do next?” Help out a little if needed.

TIP:

Simple pictures of people making funny faces or in unusual situations make for good stories. Try to use a variety of images.

7. Bird Feeder


YOU WILL NEED:

Pinecone, peanut butter (or another type of nut butter for children with peanut allergies), paper plate, bird seed

DIRECTIONS:

Have your child help you cover the pine cone with peanut butter. Pour bird seed onto a paper plate and roll the pinecone in it. Hang it outside where you can watch the birds eat from it.

TIP:

Children can help in all aspects of this activity. When watching the birds eat from it, encourage your child to talk about or draw what she sees.

8. Sand Volcanoes


YOU WILL NEED:

Sand, a sand bucket, baking soda, vinegar, optional: food coloring

DIRECTIONS:

Place a tall cup on a large tray. Pack sand up and around the outside of the cup. Continue adding sand until the cup is fully covered and the desired shape of the volcano is formed. Fill the inside of the cup 3/4 of the way with sand. Add 3-4 tablespoons of baking soda. To “erupt” the volcano, pour a cup of vinegar into the cup.


TIP:

Add food coloring for different color “eruptions.”

All of these ideas are super easy to do and it’s because Bright Horizons prides itself on being a partner in parenting and a place where your child can strive to become a young reader, scientist, artist or even a curious explorer. Just the other day, Dahlia and I did the Basket Full of Treasures activity and she loved telling me all about the different kinds of fabrics and textures I put in her bin. She also surprised me with how much she knew too!

We’ll be trying out the rest of the activities this summer to keep her busy and if you have a young one at home, you may find that one of these ideas might work for you too, especially if you think your child might be ready for school. And if you feel like your kid is almost school-ready or you’re thinking about enrolling them into child care, this checklist might also be helpful in selecting the best option for you and your family. Have fun with these activities and keep learning!

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