Learning Things That Go

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There are so many ways to teach toddlers about the various vehicles in the world, whether that means cars and trucks, or boats, or planes, or everything in between. Most obviously you can point these things out in the real world or read about them in books. But toddlers are so tactile, so consider hands-on learning with stamps or stickers that depict things that go!

First up: stickers. Veronika is currently obsessed with stickers, so we had lots of fun with a reusable sticker book from Melissa & Doug. She was a little frustrated that the big planes and trucks wouldn’t stick to her belly…

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…but loved that she could lift them off the page over and over.

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Next up: stamps! I purchased a stamp set with big chunky ones just right for toddler-sized hands.

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We talked about the image on each stamp before I pulled out the ink pads. Of course the ink itself was more fascinating for a while!

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But soon I showed her how to press a stamp down into the ink, which then appears like magic when pressed on paper. She was a little young for this activity, impishly trying to eat the stamps, so we tucked the ink pad away. But I loved that this was both a vocab lesson and an “art” activity.

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One final option: felt pieces featuring things that go. Veronika loves her set with cut-outs of planes, trains, and more.

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Little felt shapes like this of things that go are great for, well, when you’re on the go!

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Whichever medium you choose, there’s lots of hands-on learning and fun to be had!

Take a Train Ride

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We’ve had lots of firsts for Veronika lately, everything from swimming to hiking to rides in a bucket swing. Today’s new activity was her first train ride!

I set the stage for the big event in the morning, pulling out a few old train track toys (be careful baby doesn’t put magnet trains in his or her mouth), and singing train songs.

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Then we made pretend tickets and played train at home!

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Big brother Travis loved helping with this step.

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Finally it was time for the real thing. Unless you truly have a destination in mind, the best bet is to go to your local station and just ride one stop or two. Our 9 minute ride was the perfect distance to engage Veronika without overwhelming her.

As we waited on the platform, I pointed out other trains going by, as well as the people waiting.

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Here comes the train!

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On board, she had a blast! She loved looking out the window (and okay, playing with the vents under the window). We listened to the crackle of announcements and the ding of the doors.

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Another adventure, under her belt!

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Early Explorers Transportation

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Boy was this month’s theme from our Little Passport’s subscription right up Travis’s alley – the blog title says it all! The booklet was chock-full of info on some of Travis’s favorite things in the worlds (trains, planes, firetrucks) plus fun new ones like tuk tuks and tobaggans.

Transportation Craft:

Without a suggestion for an art project in this month’s booklet, we turned to Little Passport’s blog to further our exploration about cars. Bigger kids can truly tackle a Lego Technic car, but we had fun simply designing cars with our Duplo. Travis created this hybrid train/bus.

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Transportation Science:

Next up we tried out balloon-powered racing. Much as with the juice-pouch stomp rocket we made recently, this project runs on compressed air. That’s the science behind it; now here’s the fun.

First, cut a paper towel tube in half; set aside.

Tie two lengths of string (about 4 feet long) to the back of one chair. Position a second chair about 3 feet away, but don’t tie the second end of the strings yet.

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Next inflate two balloons. Instead of tying off, secure with clothespins.

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Tape each balloon to half of the paper towel tube and slide the tube onto one string; tie to the other chair, making sure the strings are taut.

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To race, position the balloons near one chair. Release the clothespins, and watch them fly forward. Does one balloon win? We found this worked best when the balloons were inflated big to begin with, and when you release the clothespin very quickly.

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Transportation Keepsake:

The souvenir for this kit was a puzzle featuring a track that a wind-up car can zoom about. The wind-up car was a huge hit.

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The puzzle was a little uneven in places – a fact I’ve noticed with several of the keepsakes from Little Passports – so the car didn’t run on it very well. That didn’t stop Travis from vrooming it all about the floor!

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Transportation Field Trip:

We had to double-dip on transportation-themed excursions, since there was so much to do! First, I recommend visiting any transit museum near you, whatever is closest – a car museum? Plane museum? Fire station? We opted for the New York Transit Museum since it focused on a type of transportation not in our booklet – the subway!

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Travis loved it, that and “driving” NYC buses.

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Finally we couldn’t resist a trip to the NY Auto Show – taking the train there to double up on transportation!

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Transportation Further Activities:

The booklet suggested a family bike ride, which would have been ideal, but my husband and I don’t have bikes! We settled for the next best thing, taking a walk while Travis used his tricycle.

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Calmer, at-home activities included inventing our own mode of transportation. Travis dictated as I drew: a double decker car with a propeller, which he made sure included carpets on the floor.

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You can also have fun coloring in pictures of your favorite transport modes (that meant trains over here!) or drawing the pictures if your kids are older.

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Next up, we made a tally of what transportation modes we saw in our neighborhood – coming up with a list of 8. No tuk tuks or toboggans though!

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Finally, we checked out books from the library to continue our exploration, on everything from snow plows to race cars.

Sight Word Train

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I’m on the lookout these days for snekay ways to get Travis to spot his name among a jumble of letters. This time the learning made its way into train set play!

Set up any train track pieces you have (you don’t need anything complicated, just a simple loop), and then set out train pieces. Affix a small post-it note with a letter to each individual train piece.

As mentioned, our first game was to hide the letters of Travis’s name, and see if he could spot them among a jumble of train cars.

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The next step was to line those letters up in order!

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We also spelled a few simple words; think of easy sight words like yes, no, cat, dog, mom, dad, etc. Because Travis currently loves airplane pilots, we spelled out a-c-e.

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Travis is still more comfortable with upper case letters than lower case, so I focused just on the latter today. But really the only limit here is when you run out of post-it notes!

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For bigger kids, you can even write full words on the post-its and have them line up their train cars to form a simple sentence.

T Week!

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Letter T stands for so many things that Travis loves anyway that we barely had time to touch upon all the words I hoped during this week. I’ve listed highlights below, but further suggestions at the bottom of the post may suit your child’s interest more. Either way, T week was Terrific!

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Trains: We play with train sets all the time, so to keep things fresh, I pulled out old toys that had been relegated to the “baby bin.” It had been long enough that he was delighted with an old plastic train, Thomas the Train “rail rollers” and more. We live in a town with a real train station, so took a stroll by the platform (and got to see a freight train pass!). You might consider a field trip to your local station or even a short ride from station to station if you have time.

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Telephone: Much as with old trains, a few baby toy phones had been put away, but he showed renewed interest when I pulled them out early in the week. Aside from just letting your child press buttons and dials, phones make for great games. Bring a toy phone in the car and ask your child to call the place you’re going, or ask them to “call” a family member and see what he or she says!

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Teddy Bears/Tea Parties: I’m listing these two together because how could we not have a t-errific teddy bear tea party and listen to the song Teddy Bear’s Picnic? Travis adores the song, which I’ve played a few times in the past, so we recreated the fun with our own picnic. He played games of Ring Around the Rosie with teddy…

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…And we even crafted teddy bear ears for him to wear, a simple craft of crayons, paper, yarn, and a stapler.

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Tree: Our T week overlaps with the beginning of autumn and fall foliage in our area, a nice coincidence! We attended a beautiful program for toddlers on Monday morning featuring a nature walk through the trees. Travis was fascinated that he could step on trees in places where the roots poked through the ground. Look for similar nature programs in your area, or just head outdoors for a walk and talk about the trees!

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Trucks: Another everyday favorite that we paid a little extra attention to this week. To keep things novel, I pulled out bubble wrap and taped it to the kitchen floor so our trucks could pop and vroom over the bubbles. Don’t be surprised if your child wants to then jump on the bubbles with bare toes! And of course trucks were great for loading up and carting toy tools.

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Tent: There’s lots you could do with this word, depending on your child’s age. Preschoolers may enjoy an overnight “camping” out in the living room with a toy tent (or makeshift tent of blankets), but Travis is too young for that. He did love helping me construct a tent using old baby blankets. We even had a handy campfire set (thanks to Koala Crate!) to play with underneath.

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Tennis: For gross motor play, introduce the idea of this racquet sport, using toddler-friendly paddles. Attach a wooden stick to a paper plate, then have a rally with balloons! I wish I could have gotten some action shots, as this was the most magical moment of our week, but Travis was moving too fast!

A few final ideas:

Fine art: We put together a double-T project: tissue paper triangles! This was a little advanced for Travis, but I’m glad we stuck with it. After originally wanting to smear glue everywhere, he got the concept of spreading glue only inside the triangle. You can stick on the tissue paper with a neat trick: wrap around the end of a pencil, then stick the pencil on the glue and pull up, leaving the tissue paper behind. After watching my example, he tried it himself and got quite good at it! Our final creation wasn’t perfect, but perfection was not the point of course.

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Food: We enjoyed a few T-treats: tangerines at breakfast one morning, tomato toast for a snack, and a tofu taco at dinner one night!

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Books: I used very few books from the library this week, as favorites like Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and train books live at home already. Travis also enjoyed Trucks by Anne Rockwell and The Tree by Dana Lyons.

Songs: Aside from the aforementioned “Teddy Bear’s Picnic,” Travis loved watching Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. He has a toy star that he “twinkled” along as we watched. “I’m a Little Teapot” was fun to sing during our tea party, teaching him the actions for handle and spout.

Math: Triangles of course! We did so many triangle activities that I compiled them into a separate blog.

As mentioned, there are many great T words we couldn’t get to. You might also want to play with any toys/books you have featuring tigers or turkeys, or play a Turtle game!

We’ll S-see you for S week…