Thursday, September 20, 2012

Favorite Learning Tools

I've had this post brewing in my head for months now, and it seems as though as soon as I sit down to finally write it, something else of larger importance comes up. The post about teaching our children. More specifically, teaching my child {since I can only relate to what we do and what works for us}. And as Elliana gets older, I am quickly realizing things that have really helped us and I believe can help others. Some things as simple as using every day household products, others by having access to some of the best educational tools out there. Flashcards. Apps. Blocks. Magnets. Colors. Shapes. Numbers and letters. Body parts. So many things to learn, so many great tools to use, so many different ways to deliver.

There are many things that we have acquired since the birth of our child that has helped in our educating her. We aren't pro's by any means. In fact, I believe we still have a ways to go and that we could work even harder at it. I wish time was on our side though.

That being said, there are things that I absolutely love. Products that have worked for us. Things that have helped in the development of our child. Educational tools.

Without further adieu, here is the list of our favorite things in relation to this topic.

1. My First Touch & Feel Picture Cards: First Words (MY 1ST T&F PICTURE CARDS) Best.Thing.Out.There. I started using the First Words {4 different boxes} with Elliana since she was about 6 months old. Obviously at that point she couldn't talk, but it was great to show her the different images, say them out loud, and even have her touch the flash cards. The great thing about these {one of the many great things} is that the cards are meant to stimulate their touch. So for instance the cat? Has a little furry body for them to feel. The fish? Has a scaly one. And so forth. Now that Elliana is 22 months old, she can say all the flashcards at the speed of light and still to this day enjoys doing them. They really is great! Colorful. Durable. I can't say enough good things about them.

We have also purchased {well got for free} the brainy flash cards. Those are great for older kids 18m-3years.And just recently, I bought 5 sets of flashcards from the dollar store {yay for deals} and they have been WONDERFUL as well.

Elliana just adores her collection of flashcards. And I adore the fact that she loves them so much.

2. Melissa & Doug Magnetic Chalk Dry Erase Board   I like to use this for our shapes. Mainly the dry erase part as it is easier for me to write and erase on it. But I like that you have the option of using either side. You can also use this for the magnet section {chalkboard part is magnetic}, so if you don't have a big magnetic board this would definitely take its place!

3. wood puzzles Genius genius genius! These are so great for learning, I can't stress it enough. And Elliana will do these puzzles over and over and over again multiple times a day. I don't even have to force them on her. She asks, "puzzas" and will sit there on her own doing them. I like to sit with her when I can and talk her through them, as I think she absorbs it more when she hears me repeating what each puzzle piece is.

4. Magnetic Board DIY.I have blogged abou this before {on more than one occasion}, but truly this magneic board is genius! I love the size of it. I love that you can make it on your own and personalize it to fit your home. And I love how much Elliana has learned from it! The DIY link can be found here. The magnets that we have purchased for this board can be found at amazon here. I have also purchased little wooden pieces both at Wal-mart as well as hobby lobby/michaels and attached magnets to the back of them. Elliana will go through and list all the animals, household items, and so forth. I think its a great way to incorporate "school time" without feeling like school. More on the fun side.

5. Blocks. I LOVE blocks. I know this may not seem very educational, and its mainly great for fine motor skills, but regardless I think they are great for colors and counting. I will aske Elliana what color this block and that block is and when she's up for it, she will respond. Like the magetic board, it doesn't really feel like "school time" and more play time for her than anything else.

6. My peekaboo books Open Flap Books. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. These. They are called My Peekaboo Fun books, and there are a ton of them! Talk about one smart idea! The amount of objects and animals and so forth in them is just insane. And it's so interactive and fun for the kiddos. Elliana loves to open up the flaps and see what's behind them. She squeels and then will call out what it is. It's like a suprirse page after page. You can find these books on amazon.

7. Tot Tutors Kids' Table and 4-Chair Set, Primary Wood A table and chair. Well how could I not include this. Obviously it is not a "must" but seriously Elliana loves to do her little studies on her table. She also loves to color on it. It really is the cutest thing in the world, plus I feel like I'm a teacher and she's my student.

8. Cardstock paper.  Array Card Stock, 8.5 x 11 Inches, 10 color, 100 Sheets (101169) We like to use cardstock as it is thicker and the toddler can hold it better and lasts just a tad bit longer.  To make crafts that correlate with what we are learning at the time.

9. Art supplies.{ toddler craft supplies }The basics---scissors, glue, wiggly eyes, puff balls, etc. I shared a link of some of the stuff that we buy off of Amazon. I learned quickly that my kids learn better when we are doing something "fun." Although, I'm not the artist type person... I'm in the process of learning.

10. Using the environment: Last, but certainly not least, the most important type of learning {in my opinion} is the one that comes for free.

While cooking. While cleaning. While eating. While walking. breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there are so many opportunities to learn. Most mornings, Elliana and I will take a 3+ mile walk. During this walk, I like to use this time to educate her, teach her about the environment, and stimulate her mind. When we work on colors, we will stop at different things around us to point out what color it is. Yello fire hydrant. Blue trash can. Red car. Green grass. Yellow flower. Red flower.

Another thing that I like to do {on our morning walk as well as when we are outside in the afternoons} is to sing songs and count. Mainly the ABC's and 123's. I know it sounds completely absurd, and I would be lying if I said I get a little more quiet when someone walks by us, but it really is a great way to teach, and not to mention she absolutely adores it. She will ask for the songs {specifically the ABC's} and she tries to sing along with me.

Like I said at the beginning, all of these things I try to do while we are at home too. If I'm cooking dinner, I'll have her bring the puzzles in the kitchen and then I'll sing to her. Or try to quiz her on her colors or numbers. I'll also have her "help me" with laundry and do the same there. 

It's like killing two birds with one stone. Get your house chores done, and teach your child at the same time. And me and mult-tasking? Are well known friends.

There you have it friends. I hope I have answered all the questions that have been emailed and asked of me. I know I have promised this post for quite some time, and I had it started {quite some time ago}, but as we all know, life kind-of-sort-of-gets-in-the-way, and that too is okay.

The good thing is that its done.

Any other teaching devices you mamas out there like to use? Tell me about them! I love learning about new products to use with Elliana {and our future children}.


  1. we love the flash cards here too! I recently just ordered some puzzles for Christmas for Bre and we love Baby Brights first 100 books

  2. Thanks for this post!! We are expecting and I'm always looking for items that aren't just cute and fun - that have educational value as well, these are great!

  3. This is great! I want to get some flash cards for Keira and now for baby Kendall. We love the shapes and ABC puzzles here. We are going to be ordering more puzzles for christmas

  4. We have a lot of the same things! Love all those things. Question, I know you posted about it, but what did you use to make your magnetic board? Can you send me the link, when you get a chance. Thanks!

  5. These are some really great ideas! Thanks for sharing. I'll have to try to get some of these things for Alidia. I especially love those wooden puzzles.

  6. We have a lot of these things too! I think, at least I feel there is pressure on us moms to make sure we try to get in some learning time each day. Products like this make it easier and guide us along!

    1. We also started on some sign language DVDs found on amazon and it's amazing to see how much they pick up!

  7. I LOVE the Melissa and Doug Puzzles too! I just ordered the my first words and animals flash cards that you use because my son loves to feel different textures! These will be great. Also I couldn't get the magnet board link to work? That looks so fun! :)

  8. Thanks so much for this post! I have been thinking about more fun learning tools for my son just haven't gotten around to really looking yet. This definitely has been super helpful :D

  9. your blog is so precious!

    New follower! Have a great day! Drop by nichollvincent.blogspot and say hi!

  10. Love all of these products!! They are all fantastic! I love your magnetic board too! I didn't see where there was a link on how to make it though? Thanks for sharing today!

  11. Great suggestions! We love that Peekaboo book here! :) I hope your yard sale goes good this weekend! All the work pays off when you realize your house is way less cluttered. At least that's how I felt. Haha!


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