Sunday, 22 April 2012

Themed Activities for Targeted Language Learning

As I am now on maternity leave with Little Man, Poppette will be spending far less time at her nursery and far more time with me.

This change in circumstances has had me thinking long and hard about how to fill our time together to maximise the fun and to ensure that Poppette doesn't get bored. Her days at nursery are so full of fun and frolics and focused activities that I am in danger of coming up short.

Alison over at Oopsey Daisy Blog may, however, have just provided me with a great answer. Alison prepares what she calls "Mommy School Packets" for her almost three year old son. Each pack focuses on a different theme (e.g. the Zoo, Halloween, the Colour Green.....) and contains myriad activities around that theme to help her son learn through play and direct experience.

I am really excited about this as a concept as I think it can translate to a great way for Poppette to learn and play at the same time as giving us both a platform for targeted language practice and learning. As a non-native, I am acutely aware that there will be language learning opportunities here for me too.

Our first theme will be 'Les Animaux de la Ferme' (farm animals). My mind is already jumping ahead to think of other themes too, such as the 'Le Temps' (the weather), 'En Ville" (In Town), à la Maison (at home), 'Les Animaux de la Jungle' (Jungle Animals)......

I have started to collect together a bundle of resources for our farm animals theme, such as:-

Animal Sounds
Comptines (nursery rhymes)
Recipes (perhaps animal shaped biscuits would be a good start)
Colouring Pages
Pictures/ Photographs

We will also take a trip to the local petting farm to look at real live animals.

I do need to brainstorm a little more. The trick will be to ensure that these activities are age appropriate as Poppette is only 18 months old. At this age, numbers and letters and perhaps even colours will be a little too advanced..... but adding these in for older children would widen the scope of learning. The beauty of it is that these activity bundles can be added to little by little over time to respond to Poppette's age, interests and understanding.

If anyone has any ideas for activity themes or suggested resources for the themes I have already suggested, I would love to hear from you.

I will update you on my progress in a future post.


  1. Oh, I'm so inspired by this post!! It sounds like such a wonderful idea. And your themes and ideas are great. Also perhaps a lot of work? How long do you plan to work on each theme?

    I wouldn't necessarily count out doing things like letters, numbers, and colors. We got Aleksander his first alphabet puzzle around 18 months, and he loved it. We did it with him, talking about the letters and corresponding pictures. We now have a German puzzle, too, which I wish we'd gotten sooner! At age 2, we got him an easel that came with alphabet magnets. Before he started talking, he was able to recognize the letters. And once he started talking, it wasn't long before he could name all the letters and sing his ABCs (perhaps his favorite song). He quickly learned his numbers and colors, too. So you never know!

    I can't wait to hear how you progress with this project! Please keep us updated!!

    1. Hi Kate

      That's an interesting point you make about Aleksander and his alphabet learning. I know you mention not buying the German puzzle until later but did you teach Aleksander both the English and German alphabet at the same time or one after the other?

      You have convinced me to add colours, numbers and letters into my activity bundles. Nothing to lose and everything to gain by opening Poppette up to more learning.

      Yesterday we had a parents evening at Poppette's nursery. They told us lots of things that she does there that we have not yet seen her do... including saying her own name! and saying the word giraffe :-)

      As for how long I intend to spend working on the prep of these activitiy bundles... it's hard to say... as I am a kind of research type geek and love finding resources and collating etc... I will probably spend a fair bit of time :-) but only in bite sized chunks.

    2. I think Aleksander learned both alphabets at the same time. But he definitely got more English, because his babysitter is the one who really "played" with it with him (especially the magnets). With the German, I still have to prompt him a bit at times, but that is the case with most things in German.

      How exciting to hear about some of the things Poppette is doing at nursery! It's funny how we miss things sometimes. My husband will sometimes tell me something he saw Aleksander do, which I'd seen for weeks, but because he spends less time with him, he hadn't seen it yet. Or sometimes Aleksander will say something totally unexpected, and I wonder if his sitter taught it to him. For example, today at lunch, he put his two index fingers together and said "cut the pickle". What?! :) Too funny!

      I'm like you - even when I was prepping for teaching college-level German, I spend SO much time doing research and looking for fun materials. One other tip there: for my story hour, I keep a spreadsheet of ideas. For each topic, I keep a list of books, songs, fingerplays/knee bouncers, and other ideas. Hmm, I wonder, too if you could collect online resources in a place like Pintrest? Have you seen Sarah's board from Bringing up Baby Bilingual?

      Since you wrote this post, I find my mind constantly wandering to brainstorming the possibilities! It's so much fun to think about :) Hope you're having fun with it!

      (PS - sometimes I have trouble posting on blogspot from wordpress - in case it doesn't show up, this is Kate again!)

  2. Hi again! You've really got me thinking with this post :) Two more thoughts - how about adding holidays to your categories? And does Poppette like to color? There is a site called Enchanted Learning that has a lot of vocab-based coloring/labeling pages in different languages. You do have to pay an annual fee to get full access, and obviously it's too early to start focusing on reading & spelling! But it might be fun to do some coloring on the topic at hand.

    1. Holidays is a great idea - I will add it to my list. Thanks for the tip re Enchanted Learning I will definately take a look.

  3. This is a fantastic idea! I´m looking forward to following your (& Poppette´s) progress!.I hope to do something similar with my daughter when she starts nursery school in September!

  4. Oooh these are great ideas! Hope you don't mind if I crib some for my kids' afterschooling programme!

  5. I love this idea. And I would say include whatever you want because you could always recycle the lessons, doing the same or changing it up a bit. Each time she could pick up more. Repetition!