Lately, Penny has been begging me to challenge her. I can sometimes get away with giving her some crayons and paper and letting her have at it, but more times than not, she insists that she wants to “do something activity.” She is at an age (almost 3) where she is picking up on things so easily, saying new words and trying out new phrases everyday, and is always asking questions about the world around her. In an effort to appease her appetite for learning and stay ahead of the game so that I have a plan the next time she is craving something creative to do, I have decided to start loosely planning out our weeks around themes and letters.
Penny already knows and recognizes all of the uppercase letters, and often points them out when she comes across them, but I thought it would be a good next step to start working on lower case letters as well as letter sounds and writing. I also decided to incorporate a theme into each week just to help guide our activities and make it more fun for both of us.
We started with letter P, since it is the first letter of her name and therefore her favorite letter, and went with the pond theme since it is spring. In the future I will continue to pick letters based more on the season and our plans to go places that may yield opportunities for field trips and real world learning, rather than going in alphabetical order. I began by Pinteresting “letter of the week” and “pond study ideas,” and then went onto my library website to find books to go along with our theme. I was able to place several on hold so that we could just run in on our next trip to the library and they would all be ready for us.
Next, I created a simple lesson plan template to help plan out the activities we would do each day.
The goals/objectives section was where I wrote out what I wanted Penny to learn from our lessons. My personal goals for Penny were for her to recognize upper and lowercase letter P, recite the P sound and tell me common words that began with P, to attempt to write or form the letter P, and learn about pond animals and characteristics.
Key terms/ideas were things I wanted to make sure I touched on throughout the week, mostly taken from the books we would be reading. Materials were any art supplies or objects that we would need for our activities beyond the basic staples we always have. I went to the Dollar Tree for everything that I didn’t already have in the house, and found some great stuff!
Books/videos we would use to supplement our lessons were listed. I decided on one craft/project for each of the 5 days. There were plenty to chose from on Pinterest- you can check out my board (click here for link) for full details on all of them.
Activities included anything involving play, movement, music, and fine or gross motor skills. Field trips to possible areas that went along with our theme were listed, as well as a final culminating activity to show all that we had learned from our study. I decided that Penny would create her own alphabet book by making a collage of objects that began with each letter of the alphabet and gluing them inside of letter templates.
In the Daily Plan section, I wrote out what our focus for each day would be, as well as any books, movies, crafts, activities, or outings we would be doing. I tried to stick to one book, one craft, and one activity a day. I was very flexible with following this guide, and changed plans around according to weather, time, and our moods, but it was nice to have it to help keep us on track.
The final notes section was added for me to reflect on what worked and what didn’t, what Penny seemed to grasp and what we still need to work on further.
After we finished our first week, (which honestly took almost two weeks because of Lucy’s birthday and family visits and all), I was really excited to do another one, and I absolutely know Penny is as well. The former teacher in me got super excited about the planning component, and Penny had so much fun doing all of the crafts and activities, and was constantly talking about ponds and pretending to be pond animals.
She would often point out the letter P wherever we would go, and could even tell us whether it was lowercase or uppercase. The most exciting thing for me was watching her actually start to write the letter, something she could never do before. It helped to start out with her forming the letter with play dough and pipe cleaners and things like that, and she was eventually able to write it as well. I would say the most difficult thing for her to grasp was the sound component. She could recite the sound P makes and list off words that began with P, but if I asked her if a word like cat began with P, she would often say yes. I imagine we will have to do more letters before she really starts to understand how to pick out the beginning sounds of words, and I am looking forward to watching her progression!
I will continue to share our plans for each letter and theme that we do- feel free to follow along and adapt your focus and activities to your child’s own skill level and interests. This could easily be done with younger children, perhaps just focusing on the upper case letter and recognition rather than actually forming letters, or with older children by focusing more on letter sounds and words.