Make sure you’re dressed nicely. We don’t want them to think we’re just posers,” I said to my husband jokingly. Although, that’s exactly what we were 😜. DJ and I were getting dressed to head to one of the best learning academies in a very well-to-do neighborhood of the Chicagoland area. Our goal? To scope out the scene and learn how the “elite” schools in the area educate their little ones. Micah was nine-months-old at the time, and I was beginning to wonder how I could better facilitate his learning. It was obvious that he was looking for a challenge, and although I was teaching him things here and there, I felt like I could do more. So, I scheduled a tour at the above-mentioned academy to gain some insight.
While there, I was impressed most by the delicate balance struck between providing structure and play, while thoroughly engaging the babies/toddlers. It was amazing to see that at such a young age, they were making graphs, discussing math concepts, and learning about the world at large. In order to learn as much as I could in a short 30-minute tour, I asked lots of questions and requested that an example lesson plan be sent via email (I needed something in writing, so I could model my plans at home after theirs). Needless to say, we did not stay to fill out applications after the tour 😂.
Once home, I was able to take their one-week example, and make it my own. The way in which their plans were structured was based on a theme for the week. During the week that we visited, the theme was “Polar Bears.” So, they taught everything through that lens. For example, with counting, they were able to create a graph using polar bear pictures. For the babies, sensory items that simulated things like fur and snow were introduced for them to explore.
In creating one of my earliest “lesson plans” for Micah, I structured my theme for each week around colors, and taught counting, language, sensation, etc. through that lens. As he got older however, I began to recall the primary reason why I decided to make a career change from being a physician to stay-at-home mom. That is, I wanted to be truly present to invest in laying the foundation for the man he is to become. And for us, that foundation starts and ends with God. So, I began to restructure the way in which I taught him. While incorporating Montessori concepts throughout the day (read about that here), I started building the theme for each week around a Bible story and taught through that scope.
For example, one theme I did was based on the story of Noah. Not surprisingly, we studied colors as it pertained to the rainbow, and we also used the opportunity to talk about different animals and count them! With every week, we discuss a moral or value that relates to the story and we go over it daily. Here’s what my “lesson plan” looked like for that week:
Story of the Week: Noah’s Ark
Moral: God cares for us and keeps his promises.
|Day||Activity 1||Activity 2|
|Monday||Story||Storytelling with felt characters|
|Tuesday||Story & Review Animals||Counting & Number Recognition using animals as a prompt|
|Wednesday||Story||Pick an animal to spell. Focus on letter recognition|
|Thursday||Story||Shapes on the Ark|
|Friday||Story & Colors in the Rainbow||Rainbow painting craft|
You get the gist.
Here’s a list of other activities I’ve done:
- number recognition through the story of creation week
- days of the week through the battle of Jericho (marching around the wall for seven days) and also through creation week
- colors through the story of Joseph’s coat
- things that float and sink through the story of Elisha and the ax
- concept of money and buying/selling through the parable of the treasure in the field
And these are just a few. The possibilities really are endless. By formatting things this way, Micah has learned numbers, colors, shapes, letters, countless bible stories, and so much more (science, cooking, nature, pre-math skills, pre-writing).
Hopefully it doesn’t come off as complicated because it really isn’t. In planning out the week, I usually take less than ten minutes to think of a story and how I can pull teachable things out of it. Then, I take a couple more minutes to look up craft ideas, or anything else related to the plan for the week, and just jot things down in my phone so I don’t forget. And that’s it! Everything I use for teaching is usually found around the house, and each “lesson,” if you can call it that, takes about 15-20 minutes each day. Micah loves them and always looks forward to them. The key is simply making it your own and catering it to your child.
When you were a child, what were some things you really enjoyed learning about? What are some things you wish you were taught, but weren’t? For those with young kiddos at home, what are some things you teach them during the day? I’d love to hear about it below!