Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Small Fry, Big Mind!!

I've been working on this post for some time now. Just never had a chance to gather all the stuff I needed to deliver all the ideas, techniques and materials I use when teaching Kieran. Before I begin this post please remember my blogs are just small thoughts, ideas and experiences that worked for us. Never compare your child to mine as every child will learn differently and at their own pace. Also, keep in my I am a work at home mom so yes I have plenty of time to spend working on things with Kieran versus families who work outside of the home. So please please don't use our time frame as when your child should master or complete something. Use it as a guideline. As a reminder that ANY child can learn anything we expose them too. A child's mind is growing everyday, they can retain anything we teach them. I don't believe anyone is took young or too small. Just like us adults we can do anything we set our minds to.

Scientific research has shown that the development of a young child’s brain improves in a rich playing and learning environment. Genes provide a blueprint for the brain, but a child’s environment and experiences carry out the construction. A rich learning environment stimulates the child’s brain and challenges the different areas and functions of the brain. A child, experiencing at a young age how to combine different skills and talents, will store these learning experiences forever.

Sure my home is a daycare. But I swear it was a daycare before the daycare even opened. We actually decided to open the daycare when my husband and mom agreed that our home was set up as a daycare! Sure I want a modern, fancy and clean home. But I settled for a classroom. Environment plays a major role in our children's lives. What we expose them to is what they will learn. On all the walls in my living room I have different colored posters. Most of you know Kieran mastered colors by 15 months. Sure table top time played a huge part but what he saw daily was what helped him retain it. Throughout the day we would play games like racing to the color blue, I spy something red, or whoever can find the color green first wins a treat. I move the posters around to make sure he actually knows the colors and doesn't just memorize it. (Huge difference, more about memorizing versus actually knowing later). 

My number one suggestion, make your child's environment there WORLD. Don't worry you'll have a modern home one day. But for now throw some colors, babyproof what's needed and let them explore! 



Table top time is what most of you wanted to learn more about. I started table top at 4 months when Kieran was able to sit up in his bumbo chair or high chair. 4 months am I insane!?!?!  Yes! 4 months! His activities then were very simple. We banged on pots, worked on clapping, played peek a boo, banged on instruments and worked on grasping.  He loved looking at a photo book of his family. All very appropriate for their age. My main activity at that age was"put in" I used a bucket with shapes and had him put the items in the bucket. Hey that's a lot of work for a 4 month old. Their mind needs to grasp the object then move it over the bucket and let go! 

He didn't sit in the bumbo for more than 5-7 min  as he was just learning to sit and sitting for a long period of time is not good for them. You know your baby listen to them and encourage the. Don't ever push them. Table top time should be a positive experience. 

Who said table top has to be all about mastering an activity?!?! When Kieran was younger I used to give him tons of chew toys and sensory toys to explore with. It may not seem like anything, but they are learning a lot from this. They are learning all about different textures! 


By 6 months my little man was very aware of the world around him. I did table top with him three times a day for 5-7 minutes. Our task was stacking rings onto a cone. It was very frustrating for him at first but with the constant praise and cheering he mastered it after a few months of practicing. He loved the tickles and attention he got he could careless about the fact he stacked all the rings. The key to success in these activities is YOU. Your praise, support and cheers is the reason they are even doing this. 

By 10.5 months Kieran mastered the stacking rings without my assistance. He used to have trouble with the cone moving around. 

Below is the video of him stacking. And it's the reason why I choose to do table top instead of working on the floor. You see he gets distracted and wants to crawl away. Table top gives them focus and they learn to understand that during this time I need to work on something. 

Kieran is now 21 months and he understand when I say table top time it means he has to do a little work. He's registered this time is important and we do activities together. You're training not only your child, but you're training yourself. Eventually our little babes will go off to grade school and they will come home with homework. And as parents we should be there during homework time supporting, encouraging and help them. So start now, I know some of you have 8-5pm jobs but it's good to find a time now as to when you can sit and work with your child or simply just talk to them. 
We all live such busy lives. And as or children get older they will be less dependent on us. It's important we build the bond NOW, in hopes they always stay close and when they get picked up from grade school they don't give you one word answers like FINE or GOOD.
So sit with your husband, boyfriend or partner and find the time NOW to have bonding time with your little ones. Meaning no cellphones or TV. Just play! 

So don't put your little one on a bumbo/highchair and leave them with an activity. Instead sit there. Support them. Cheer. Give tons of tickles. This is about bonding not seeing

During this time Kieran was very into books. I chose tons of board books you can easily buy at I recommend interactive ones that have touch and feels or flaps they can open.  I also love books that have actions. 

12-15 MONTHS

By 12 months Kieran showed a strong interest in colors. It was so funny. He used to just point at everything and say it was blue. So I jumped the wagon and got everything I needed to teach him colors. We also graduated to a booster seat for table top time by the time has was about 11 months. 

The seat is made by fisher price. You can purchase from for $23 (link below)

I started teaching him colors using these colored cups and counting bears. You can purchase them from Amazon (link below) for about $7

At 12 months I started with 1 cup and 5 bears. We started with just "put in" I had him put all the bears in the cup. "Blue bear in blue cup" Language plays a huge role so you must sit with them and just keep repeating "blue bear in blue cup". we also played fun games like hiding the blue bear under the blue cup. And I would ask him to find it. Repetition is everything. We did this for a week. 

The following week I added a "distracter cup" I threw in a red cup. And kept asking him to put the blue bears in the blue cup (i only gave him 5 blue bears). He kept trying to put the blue bears in the red cup at first and I would say "try again". By the end of the second week he finally figured out that the blue bears go in the blue cup. 

The third week I added the red bears. He now has two colored cups 5 blue bears and 5 red bears. He knows that the blue ones go in the blue cup. So it made sense the red one go in the red cup. I just needed to give him the language. "red bears in red cup".

Add colors when you think you're child is ready. Don't rush. Be patient.

Again every child will master the skills on their own pace. If it takes a month that is totally fine. As long as your trying, praising and giving them the opportunity to learn new things then that's all that matters. 

Kieran mastered all 5 colors  by 15 months. He caught himself when he made a mistake and he would correct it. 

Remember to keep the language simple. Be repetitive. NEVER say NO. Instead say 'TRY AGAIN". PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE. Jumping for joy and be as loud as a marching band. Kieran does a lot of things just to see his mommy jump and act silly. Praise is everything.

15-21 MONTHS

Kieran still had a strong interest for colors. Where ever we go we are constantly naming all the different colors we see. Green tree, white truck, blue sky, etc. The best classroom is right outside your front door. Take a stroll down your street and go to the same flower, house, steps every single time you go for a walk. Name those objects and colors every time you're out. They have a strong memory. And they will memorize everything. 

Kieran remembers the house across the street has red strawberries in their garden, that the house 5 houses down is blue and the house at the end has a lion statue. Take the same path and label the same objects. It's a great way to work on language and colors! 

Be repetitive! 

Kieran sorting colors at the lego store

Below are jumbo pegs great fine motor skills and great for teaching colors. 

The stacking shakes by Melissa and Doug are a little more advance so I don't recommend it until they can distinguish colors a little bit. Just like counting bears don't give all the shapes at once. You can offer one color of each. 

I've been bringing back the shape sorter bucket every now and then. Kieran still has no interest and patience for it. I'm pretty positive he can sort shapes but he has no interest in trying. He loves puzzles and colors. But cannot stand this toy! So like I said don't force it. Take their lead. Find what they are interested and focus on that. Kieran will eventually learn to do the shape sorter but just not now. And I am OK with that. 

You can all kinds of activities at table top. We love to go through flashcards, photo albums, books, stack blocks, sort fruits and so much more. Be creative and do what your child enjoys. 

Remember what I said about making your home a learning place your little one. You can make any time or place a learning opportunity. Kieran recently showed interest in learning about states and the solar system. Partly because he loves planes and he knows riding a plane or space shuttle takes us to all these wonderful places. 

Below are place mats of the 50 states and our solar system. He looks at them during every meal and i like to hang them on the wall or put them on his play table. I'm exposing him and feeding his curious mind. You can do this with anything you're child is interested in.

One last idea I like to share is how we read books. I read Kieran the same book every night. Now at 21 months old he memorizes about 4 books. It may seem like he's reading it but really he just memorizes it. He can finish a few words of every sentence on each page of Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire. He's memorized word for word Goodnight Moon which I've been reading to him since he was born. 

A child's mind is so amazing! They know so much more than we think. They can retain anything as long as we expose them to it. 

The brain contains some 100 billion neurons and that the neurons are joined together via an estimated quadrillion connections. It’s through those links that the brain does the remarkable work of learning and storing memory. By the age of 3, a baby’s brain has reached almost 90 percent of its adult size. The growth in each region of the brain largely depends on receiving stimulation, which spurs activity in that region. This stimulation provides the foundation for learning. Everything a child learns and experiences at a young age is transformed in the child’s brain into connections between brain cells. These connections are decisive for the functions the brain can perform later.