One of the things I believe in strongly is that any time can be a great time to sneak in some sort of learning.
Whether it’s counting the candies in the line at the grocery store checkout, learning about the fish in your neighbor’s backyard pond, or trying new veggies from your local CSA, kids are naturally curious and their brains are pretty much like sponges at this point.
They want to learn. They want to try new things every single day. So it’s our job to jump on those opportunities when we can—and where we can.
Yesterday was a rainy, grey day, so Cora and I decided to open one of her birthday gifts—a Shrinky-Dink Pet Playset.
And though we are huge fans of all things shrinky dink, we did manage to sneak in some learning along the way—and of course Cora didn’t even realize she was learning.
She was just happy to have time to craft, chat, and play with her mama.
Here’s the skinny. . .
- Anytime Number Learning– Counting, Identifying, and Writing Numbers During Play: The cool thing about anytime number learning is that it can be done with anything, at any time.
Cora organizes the pieces. . .
. . . then surprises us with some of her first-ever written high(er) numbers!
We just happened to have Shrinky Dinks on the brain and a playset at our fingertips. But it can be done with blocks, dolls, cars, crafts, you name it. Very simply, all we did was pull out all of the Shrinky Dink pets and parts, and we colored and counted as we completed each piece.
Cora started by saying, Let’s count how many pets we colored.
And I said, Super idea. We can count as we put them on the baking sheet, and once we have about 15, our tray will be filled and we can start shrinking!
Yes! she said, as she started placing them randomly on the tray.
It might be easier for us to keep track of our counting if we put them in straight rows, like our grid games, I said. Let’s try that.
Shrinky dinks are all lined up and ready to be shrunk!
So we did. And the rows weren’t perfect, but they were all we needed. As we counted, Cora wanted to write down the number of Shrinky Dinks we had. She asked me, What way does a ‘7’ go again?
I grabbed the Number Spelling and Math Terms sheet that I created for Maddy a few months ago, and I put it on the table in front of Cora. The Number Spelling and Math Terms sheet is here to download as a pdf if you’d like.
This is Maddy’s number sheet, but I’m sure she’d have no problem letting you borrow it. (Anything Maddy does is cool, so I was totally playing on that. . . ) Take a look at this sheet, count down from one, and see if you can find number 7.
She did. It was a super reference to have, and she used it the whole morning.
She wrote number 7 on her page. And as soon as we finished coloring the eighth Shrinky Dink, she wrote a number 8 right next to the 7.
We’d chat a bit, color a bit, sometimes stop for a snack or to let Brady out, but we’d always come back to re-count our colored Shrinky Dinks. And Cora would write another number on her paper.
Once our tray was filled, we’d shrink them and add them to the set.
We got to as high as 15, and then we shrunk the Shrinkys. Then we’d start again.
Quick, easy, and sneaky learning in between coloring and catching up and playing with Shrinky Dink pets. Love it.
Today, we’ll finish up the coloring and shrinking–and during homework time I plan to give her the Number Writing Practice sheet I have saved on my laptop for months now. And if she’s up for it, great; if not, no biggie. I think it would be a great foll0w-up, and it will be even more fun if it’s followed by some window writing, jell-o writing, or the like!
I am embarrassed to say that I’m not sure where it came from! So if you are the creator–or if you know the creator–please let me know so I can link back to your work (if you’ll allow me!).
Happy playing, counting, and sneaky learning!