Using Toys as Teaching ToolsLauren Hartmann
With the holidays quickly approaching, many people will be doing a lot of traveling. While we won’t be traveling much during the holidays, we will be taking a trip in January, and as such I have been trying to come up with ways to prepare my toddler for it. Traveling can be a production, even when you aren’t bringing along a little one, and when you add in unbridled energy and a penchant for the word “no” it makes for an interesting situation to say the least. Our last flight was less than stellar, so this time around I’m hoping a bit more preparation will make the difference.
As a former preschool teacher, I am all about helping children to learn through play, which is why I’ve been using the VTech Roll & Learn Activity Suitcase as a teaching tool. I’ve been setting the stage by talking about the trip we’re going to be taking (we’re going to Disneyland for her birthday, so I’m hoping that in itself will make the trip a little more enticing) and we’ve been playing “airplane.” I set up a few chairs like airline seating and then we “pack our bags.” She puts toys in her activity suitcase and I put toys in a backpack. Then we grab our bags – she rolls hers along – and we go through all the motions of pretending we are on a flight to California. Currently, it’s just a fun game, but I’m hoping that as the time approaches it will help make our actual trip go a little more smoothly.
When we pretend, I try to make it as much as an actual flight as I possibly can in our dining room. While we sit on the “plane” we talk about how we have to stay seated and I let her eat her snack while we play. Sometimes we can play a game on my phone or color in a coloring book. If she gets up to run, I remind her that planes are for sitting. Then,when I can tell she’s getting bored with it, we “land the plane” so we can move on to a different activity.
It sounds a little silly, but if it helps our travel experience to go more smoothly, then I’m all about it. It’s also been a fun way for us to make believe together. Imaginative play isn’t something I’m very good at, and it always feels a little forced, but this has been a good way for me to practice this skill in a way that is beneficial to me and fun for my daughter. A win-win situation for all!
Keep your fingers crossed for our flight!