Home Edumacation

This summer while the kids are home with me, I am really trying to work with Bean so that he gets as much learning at home as he did at daycare on a daily basis. His daycare was really great about teaching through playing and I am trying to mimic that at home.

Originally, I planned to go out and buy all this educational stuff for us to do this summer. I went to teacher’s supply stores, but found that a lot of the teaching tools were either too old for Bean or too darn expensive. But as I sat around trying to think up ways to teach Bean, I noticed that he actually had a lot of things around our house that could be used for little teaching moments. For example, at Easter, Bean loved the empty Easter baskets. He’s big into sorting right now and he loved having all kinds of containers and baskets that were different sizes, colors, and shapes.


So, I started using that for little teaching moments as we played. We’d be sorting plastic eggs into baskets and I would ask him to bring me all the blue eggs or to bring me all the big eggs. He loved collecting and sorting through his little plastic treasures and it gave us a chance to work on colors and sizes.


I learned from the Easter baskets that teaching tools are all around us.  You just have to recognize free play as a time to do little teaching moments and suddenly, the entire toy box becomes educational.  And – bonus! – your kids don’t even know it!


Another thing that I loved about our daycare was that they used flash cards to teach. Every week, Bean brought home a small flash card that had a picture and the word of whatever they were learning that week. To keep up with that, I bought a couple boxes of flash cards at Target or Babies R Us (I can’t remember where). The only problem was that Bean didn’t like sitting down going through flash cards. He wanted to hold them and play with them himself, but I didn’t want them to get lost or torn. I also didn’t want him to only be able to look at them when I was with him.

My solution was to put the cards on a bulletin board in his room. Now, every week, Bean and I sit down and choose different cards to put up. Some of them are words he knows (so that there are some he can always get right – builds confidence) and some of them are words that he is still learning.


I put the bulletin board over Bean’s bed because it was somewhere he would see the flash cards often. Now, whenever we are playing in his room, I’ll just randomly ask him to show me the leaf or the bicycle or the wagon. He loves climbing up and showing me what he knows and it gives us a chance to work on his words without having to stop and flip through boring flash cards.


Bean loves the flash card board. He really loves when we change out the cards. I think he likes that he gets to choose which cards we put up there. At first, I was a little unsure of how this would look. I want Bean’s room to be cute and neat, but I have pretty much given up on the themed look for him. His walls are now lined with things he’s colored, shapes he’s working on, flash cards we’re learning, and other fun little things we find while we’re out and about. Last week we added two Lightning McQueen posters from the Cars 2 weekend we had at Disney. And you know? I really like his room now. It looks like a classroom and a bedroom all at one time. His walls have become bulletin boards for whatever we are working on and it makes his room fun and educational at the same time.


I’m a middle school teacher, so you would think that educating my own children would come naturally. But I’m learning that teaching very young kids is a whole new experience. You have to teach them in their environments and with their treasures and with things that keep their attention. And when you start to see everything around you as a learning experience, it really adds depth to everything you do with your pee wee.

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23 Thoughts to “Home Edumacation”

  1. Beth

    Love the teaching moments in play. They are all around and they never know they are learning. Do be carefull with the thumb tacs in the flash cards. It won’t be long before he realizes he can pull the cards and the tac will/could go flying.

    Check the local parks or library for fun summer learning activities that you and Bean can do.

  2. How fun! I think it’s great that Bean’s room is a kind of learning work in progress. I’ll keep lots of these things in mind as my little one gets older. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Amanda H

    I love this idea. I’m going to share it with my sisters for their kids (mines too old). It is the little things in day to day life that kids seem to take the most from. My sons favorite thing is to add and subtract and use money. So when we shop he helps me add up what we are buying and count out the money to pay. Helps me stay on budget AND he’s learning and not even knowing it.

  4. I love your bulletin board idea. Our flashcards always sat, unused, in cupboards.

    Plenty of brilliant people have come from homes without any “teaching supplies” at all. Using what you have on hand is more than enough.

  5. Those are some awesome ideas! I may have to attempt to remember them for when I have kiddos 🙂

  6. The push pins give me a heart attack. It only takes a second for him to pull one off and it could get stepped on or eaten. It’s a great idea though, if it was higher up. You could use tape or mounting squares. Better safe then sorry! (signed, the mom who now has a wii as a expensive netflix player, because after swearing my child doesn’t put things in the wii, put a dvd, and $3 in spare change in the wii. And I had quite a few friends warn me ahead of time).

  7. Great teaching through life Katie!! Your kids will benefit greatly. Just a though about middle schoolers…..they like learning through play too. You would be surprised at how many of your pre-school play ideas can be translated to middle school. I love my middle schoolers!!!

  8. Erin

    My daughter will be 2 on June 21 and she knows all of her letters and their sounds because of the LeapFrog Talking Letter Factory DVD. I typically don’t let my daughter watch TV or movies very often, but that DVD is SO great. She LOVED learning them, and is now identifying letters every where we go. It might be worth looking into for your summer of learning!

  9. ally

    i’m with jenn, the only thing i could focus on was the tacks and worrying that he’ll pull a card off and the tack will go flying somewhere that it shouldn’t!

  10. Michael

    I love all those ideas. My kids really like the computer (big suprise since I teach middle school technology and my husband is a programmer) so I found some on level pre school games. Try ABCMouse.com, thisissand.com, starfall.com, and highlightskids.com. Have Fun!

  11. Tressa

    I think this is a great idea!! You’re such a smart Mommy!!!! 🙂 (and I didn’t even notice the push pins, til I read the other comments!)

  12. Porter and I started doing flashcards when I first started staying home with him in February. It was really fun. Now that he has mastered all of that we spend a lot of time counting things around us. I’ve found that we get better results if we don’t force or push “learning time” but we try to find “teachable moments” in our every day goings-on. So far so good! We also found some great ABC posters at Dollar General for Porter’s room.

  13. I love your ideas! I used to be a 2nd grade teacher before staying home with my little boy who is now 2. We love the magnetic alphabet letters, puzzles, and lots and lots of books. It’s so true that everything around you can be a learning experience!

  14. I love this and may copy this but right now I am gonna sit here and pout thinking crap I suck as a “Mom Teacher” cause none of this would occur to me. Please continue to post your “lesson plans” so I can steal them and pretend I am doing a good job! 🙂

  15. I love your blog by the way, I’ve been lurking on it for a few months now, but haven’t mustered up the courage to comment.

    Beautiful ideas – full of colour and variety of activities. If you’re thinking of venturing online, there are also lots of sites that provide learning activities for young kids.

  16. Great idea! This post makes the kindergarten teacher side of me VERY HAPPY. He’s going to be so ready for kindergarten!

  17. I second the comment about The Letter Factory DVD, it is awesome. We also have the little magnetic Leap Frog alphabet learning toy that goes on your fridge and does the same sounds & songs as the DVD. That really helped our daughter. Thanks for the tips, I love the bulletin board with the flash cards!! I have a love/hate relationship with the things, that is a brilliant solution. I also went to the dollar store and they sell a big poster board of the alphabet I hung on her wall, love that too!

  18. Rebekah

    That is such a great idea with the bulletin board! I have the same set of flash cards and am going to have to do that with them. My daughter (2 in August) likes to look at them but she rips them and crumples them up. Genious!

  19. Loving the flashcard idea! I am a high school teacher turned stay-at-home mom, so I have all sorts of educational things in storage. It might be time to take some of it out to use as decor 🙂 Thanks!

  20. Kaitlyn

    That’s awesome! We’ve been searching for ideas for our little boy’s new room. I love how he was able to be apart of the “design”. Also, love how things are more eye level for him! Great ideas. I’m a teacher as well that is taking some leave to have a few babies and be able to stay home. I love using my degree still, just in a different way, and I love even more sharing mom ideas with each other. Thanks so much!

  21. I really like the idea of a bulletin board in the kids room, but I would be afraid of push pins with my little guy. I think I’m going to try something like this, without the pushpins…I’m a worrier I guess.

  22. So creative! I love sorting too! 🙂

  23. […] that Bug is going through.  Something I found recently when going through her archives was this bulletin board that she put in Bean’s room with flash cards to work on learning words.  We’re trying […]

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