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Methods of Teaching Toddlers (2-3) Shapes, Letters and Such

I'm a working mother and our parents watch our 2 year old daughter everyday so she is not exposed to "actual learning" from a childcare person or place. I'm wondering what other moms do to teach their children about shapes and letters. She is very active and doesnt have the best attention span so I need something that will keep her interested. Are there any games, methods, anything that worked for you to get your child to learn these things better? I know there are programs online that you can purchase as "at home preschool" curriculum. Has anyone tried anything they feel really worked?



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I have to agree with a previous response. Leap frog letter factory worked wonders for my little guy. Their other videos are good also. He also loved the fridge phonics. PBS has some great shows. There is one for words that is called Word World. I know this may be a bit much for her right now, but for later it would be a great show.

Good luck.

Hi S.,
I see you have pleanty of responces and I didn't read them all. I just wanted to tell you real quickly what I have stumbled on.
My DD is 21 months old and she knows the ABC song from playing it over and over again on her leapfrog learn & groove musical table. And recently we started watching Sesime Street because she loves Elmo and they say the alphabet over and over again.
As for shapes, she learned them from the same misical table and from a board puzzle I got for her second hand. I sat down with her maybe two times with the puzzle and she knew all the shapes and still does.
Kids are sponges, they want to know everything so teaching them is really just a matter of exposing them.
Best wishes

She's 2 she doesn't need any formal teaching. She needs to be able to explore. Just talk to her and tell her what she is seeing and touching. It will all sink in. She will be in school soon enough for at least 12 years, longer if she goes to college. Don't start pushing her at 2.

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Why would you want to teach a two year old shapes and letters? She's busy learning the lessons that two year olds need to learn. She doesn't need to be pressured into preschool learning. Take a look at "The Hurried Child," by David Elkind.

2 moms found this helpful

Greetings S.: I have to say that if any of my 5 children said their child was not in a "actual learning" enviroment while with me I would find it hard to help them out again!(besides the lecture I am sure I would give)
As a mother and Grandmother, I find learning in everything that we do. We cook together and I will ask for the oval orange container etc. We find shapes in everything around the house and in the yard. To learn to measure we take a ruler, tapemeasure, even string and see sizes of things and then measure the string to see what we have. Heck if all the child did was watch Elmo (my granddaughter's hero next to daddy) he teaches how to do dozens of things from taking care of pets to computers. I know that you are trying to find ways so that you can be the best at parenting that you can be. We are lucky enough that one daughter in law has decided that she wants her children to learn spanish and sign language and we are all learning as well so that the children are bi lingual. I have gone through the kitchen and asked our 3 and 4 year olds to find me cylinders, tubes, squares,ovals etc and we have a great time- infact none of them had thought about the oatmeal container as either a cylinder or a tube. So it can be everyday items that are used in your teaching moments.Find books that have shapes and sounds so that you are teaching grammer an alphabet letters all at the same time.
You will find that it is easier than you think and apart of your everyday natural life even while in the car we sing and recite poems. I wish you well in the great adventure of parenthood it really is very exciting and will never be dull. Children just need love, encouragement,examples to watch and learn from, and boundries and they will thrive and be happy. Nana G

1 mom found this helpful

I played a lot of "I Spy" type games with my son while waiting in line at the post office, while walking through the mall, etc. You sound pretty literate so I'm sure your parents will do fine teaching your daughter as well.
As a teacher I have not pushed my son to learn becase I have seen too many really smart kids who are bored in school become behavior problems. I would rather let him learn at his own pace and be there to help tutor him if he needs it to keep up with the rest of the class.

1 mom found this helpful

Let me preface that I am not a big proponent of instruction to children this age. I do however think they love to play...and anything play based that incorporates shapes...( I would just enjoy that right now..later letters and numbers) would be great.
Remember, children are highly visual at this age! Less auditory. Highly hands on!

1. Use dough to make shapes
2. trace shapes in nontoxic shaving cream
3. build shapes in the sand
4. Look for shapes out in the world, around the house
5. Love the old fashioned toy from tupperware, blue and red and they put the yellow shapes in the right hole. TImeless learning.
6. I do like Noggin and Baby Einstein...minimal and measured use
7. Read...go to library..tons of books around the subjects
8. COOK! basic box foods, or recipes...made into STEP by STEP directions
9. Jello shapes
10. Painting shapes and numbers..
11. Talk about your son's dreams..what does he want to see on Mars first, second, third
12. Marbles, Checkers, Kids Games...
13. Dollar store work books only if interested and only when developementally ready to hold pencil, crayon...for now, a lot of loose parts to assemble and make things..a lot o free coloring...
14. Have her help grandma with his tools, supervised. He will learn to measure
15. Back to Marbles. Get her a Marble Run to put together.
16. Music! Music to sing and listen to...a few simple instruments...shakers, woood flutes, drums..etc..great rhythm teachers
17. An easle
18. Create a science and exploring area outide..water, measuring cups, food coloring*supervised:)..google age appropriate fun.vinegar, ...fizzy stuff..
19. Help around the house, garden....
All of this active learning will give your parents a sense of providing her enrichment, you peace that her brain is being nurtured in your absence, that she is not parked in front of a TV and definately not a computer......pick and find what works now and enjoy her..encourage her to share what she had fun with (this will tell you what she is learning

1 mom found this helpful

Just my two cents: it's easy for us parents to feel we need our kids to get an early start on learning quantifiable things like recognizing shapes and things, but in the long run I think that learning will be a more enjoyable and enduring process for both parent and child when we try to put it in context rather than try to set aside specific times and use specific curriculum to "teach", particularly with young toddlers. So my suggestion: spend time reading to your child, take her to weekend storytimes at your public library (they often have fun action songs and rhymes so she won't have to be sitting still the whole time), go for walks around the neighborhood and at kid-friendly places like Tilden Park's Little Farm, the Lawrence Hall of Science (great play zone for the kindergarten-and-under set), Ardenwood Historic Farm, farmer's markets, etc., and engage her in dialogue about what you see - they take in a lot more than we realize and will often surprise you with how much they can remember and repeat. For a while when my girls were toddlers, I wondered why they would say something like "There's a dog. Oh yeah, there's a dog" when they saw a dog - eventually I realized that it was because whenever they pointed out something they saw when we were on a walk (e.g.: "Mommy, there's a dog!"), when I saw what they were pointing to, I'd respond "Oh yeah, there's a dog!".
My own unscientific experience has been that by building the "learning" into everyday activities, errands and outings, my kids have been developing a healthy attitude towards learning - they see that learning can be a fun thing and they also see how it's applicable to everyday circumstances, instead of being some abstract concepts in a workbook.

1 mom found this helpful

Skip the curriculum. The best research points to free play, outdoor play, talking with/verbal interaction, and playing with other children as the best brain developers for children. You can point out letters and shapes in everyday things but at this age, children need massive amounts of outdoor and physical play. Their brain structures for vision, coordination, hearing, and other sensory abilities need development and reinforcement first.
Stay away from flash cards and workbooks and educational videos*!

*Videos are entertainment, pure and simple. fine for occassional use (for preschoolers, not under 2s)

My son started learning shapes with the Baby Einstein Shapes dvd, a few hand-me-down books, and just talking about shapes of things we saw everyday. I would play it while he ate lunch and he LOVED the puppets on the show. It is short and fun to watch or play while he watches and he still likes it. As far as letters go, I found the LeapFrog Letter Factory dvd and read reviews on Amazon. I got it for his 2nd bday and started showing it to him about a month or so later. He LOVES this dvd. Seriously, he asks for it everday and now knows the letters and the sounds they make. It has been incredible to watch. I also got an alphabet puzzle which has a word under each letter that can later be spelled with the letters. I strategically put this out with other puzzles every other day or so and we look at it together. He now picks out letters and then tells me what sounds they make. If your son likes trucks and cars, there are some wonderful books which use trucks, cars, trains, construction vehicles to teach letters and numbers. Construction Countdown has been a favorite for us and it has different color vehicles so you can also talk about colors too.....one way we do it is we say, "Which color machine would you drive? Daddy? Mommy? Mama? Papa?" He loves for us to make up little sentences where we say he is driving the red cement truck etc. Hope this helps and relax and have fun with it and they will too.

Go for a walk and talk about what you see, smell, feel and hear!
See the orange flowers, they smell sweet and are soft to the touch. Do you hear the birds chirping? Can you make that sound? Oh, I hear an airplane - can you find it? It is up high in the sky.
Puzzles work wonders for shapes, letters, colors and numbers.

Every item in your home (or grandma's house) can be used to teach something - remember, when your child was born, she knew how to breathe, sleep and poop. You even had to teach her to eat.

The best way to teach is to have conversations with your child. Explain what you are doing, and even why. Have fun!

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