Using counting bears, markers, and paint to supplement learning.

In our home my husband and I try to take a play based approach to learning because both our daughters have short attention spans (age 2 and 6). My oldest is currently in First Grade and although she has a homeschool curriculum we follow online I’m often filling our day with supplemental learning in order to help her fully grasp the content.

Since my oldest is in First Grade most our day is tied up by going over her online lessons with her and filling our days with activities appropriate for her learning level. In which keeps us busy and limits our time teaching our toddler. Therefore most of our supplemental learning not only has to be appropriate for my oldest daughter it also has to be stimulating and safe for a toddler.

Today my youngest woke before my oldest and I was able to devote my attention to her. In which we played with counting bears and worked on several fundamental skills; colors, sorting, patterns, fine motor, shapes, simple addition, and tracing. Counting bears is a great tool we use in our home to fill the age gap between our daughters and cover a variety of skills at the same time. In which I usually use with both my daughters at the same time.

Making a circle.
My youngest and I traced the counting bears.
This is what our paper looked like when finished.
Simple addition. You could also incorporate subtraction in the activity as well.

If you don’t have counting bears and no interest in picking up a set the activities shown above could easily be used with different materials such as beads, pom poms, skittles, fruit loops, etc. Our counting bear set came with two tongs and colorful cups. In which my daughter uses the tongs which allows her fine motor practice and when she’s willing she sorts them by colors into the cups although she often just throws any bear she feels like into any cup.

My oldest daughter had no interest in school today which often happens and often leaves me looking for alternatives to get the lesson done quickly while trying to make sure she retains the information she is suppose to. Since I also have my toddler running around it can make it difficult to stay calm myself when my oldest goes into shutdown mode. In which I have to debate if taking a break is the right choice. Often times if we take a short break she’s even less willing to get back into it. Therefore today I brought out paint during a break session in which they could make a mess and create whatever they wanted. When it came to getting back in it I got so desperate to keep her focus I allowed my children to paint on my legs to keep my youngest busy as my oldest used marker to write her spelling words all over my other leg.

Footprint art by my youngest daughter.
Lines by my oldest daughter.
Paper plate art by my oldest daughter.
Using my legs as paper for a practice spelling test.

Homeschooling isn’t the most glamorous route to take and it isn’t often easy. If I’m honest somedays I feel overwhelmed by it all, and we just keep going getting through it in which I remind myself it’s not the process that matters. At the end of the day it’s all about making sure my daughter is learning whatever it takes even if it means being covered in marker. Or cleaning paint off our dirty carpet because my youngest decided she wanted to make foot art and she used the carpet as a way to get the paint off her feet. I hope our daily struggles can help inspire and remind you that no matter how crazy it gets your not alone. Although you may see others that look as if they are succeeding and it comes easy for them, I can promise you I’m not one of those mothers I just take it day by day and do the best I can.

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