Quick and Easy Math Activities for Busy Toddlers and Preschoolers

Quick and Easy Math Activities for Busy Toddlers and Preschoolers

Quick and Easy Math Ideas and Activities for Busy Toddlers and Preschoolers

I was always intimidated by math growing up. I didn’t immediately connect to the concepts in class, and felt overwhelmed by on the spot answering I enjoyed in other areas of school. Math just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t until I began my training to become a teacher, and was taught the theories and concepts behind math that it finally clicked for me. I was missing some of the basic understanding and comfort with the numbers and so everything from that point on was causing me anxiety as a student so eager to do well. This new appreciation for math came flowing from my fingertips when I had my own classroom, and then eventually my daycare. It was easy to make it a part of my everyday now that I finally understood and valued those basic concepts and it was my goal to have the same “math is fun” attitude come out in little ones who were natural investigators.

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

bear counters easy quick toddler preschooler math ideas and activitiesChildren are already using math in their everyday as they make sense of the world around them. Addition, subtraction, more and less than, are all concepts that take part in play as children understand they have fewer cheerios than a sibling or that as they eat them, there are fewer in the bowl. Sharing, turn taking, sorting, collecting, measuring and pouring, and loose parts play (more on that here) are critical in developing math routines through informal action and lay the foundation that more complex math will depend on later in school years (which is what I learned the hard way!).

In hopes to set my daughter up with positive math experiences I spent a lot of time researching the best ways to approach these concepts in the very young and what manipulative would be most meaningful. A favourite teaching toy we have at home would be our Counting Bears. These adorable little bears are amazing for so many different activities (such as a recent post about bears and hibernation) and are a constant in our play. math counters toddler preschooler learning through play activities easy quickYou can get these in just about any animal or area of interest – our favourites being bugs, pigs, sheep, and of course the bears.

Just allowing your little one (of course using your judgement with small parts play and the age and actions of your child) to play freely with the bears is a great way to start. You’ll see them coming to some of these conclusions on their own but encouraging and enriching their understanding will be meaningful in what they take away from the already valuable play with a parent.

Quick and Easy Math Ideas and Activities for Busy Toddlers and Preschoolers

Our favourite activities with these tiny bears:

  1. sorting by colour color counting bears math activities toddlers preschoolers easy quickCounting – just simply counting these bears is a great reinforcement of number sense and understanding.
  2. Simple Math – building on those skills of number sense is the relationship between the numbers through addition and subtraction. Mommy has 4 bears but she shares one with Daddy. How many bears does Mommy have now? Let’s count together!
  3. Bears in Bowls – Using matching coloured bowls, plates or paper, we’ve created a game that enforces colour naming and association, as well as organizing and sorting the bears into groups. From there, of course you could group by size (which will be the early stages of spatial sense for school – shape, size, space, position, direction and movement), and then count how many you have in each group.
  4. learning through play toddler preschool math activities quick easy fun counting bearsMeasurement – oh I love this one! Using the bears (or whatever toy you choose) you can measure various objects or distances throughout the house. How many bears big is this book?
  5. Estimating – It’s fun to make guesses and even more fun to hear the extraordinary numbers my little lady comes up with when estimating how many bears there are in a group. Although we are in early stages, and this is a difficult activity (for any age… you know those online guesses for how many M&M’s or Skittles in a jar?!) this activity allows us to talk about more or less, bigger or smaller, and the naming of numbers.
  6. simple patterns math for toddlers and preschoolersPatterns – there is a natural tendency to line up little toys like this and pointing out patterns that are created naturally, like an ABAB pattern or something more complex, are those first stages in understanding things that repeat, making predictions and problem solving. I play with patterns when I play alongside my daughter which often results in her mimicking my creation. This is a great activity for preschoolers when offered the beginning portion of a pattern for them to complete. Patterns can be those early introductions to things like telling time, and understanding a calendar, as well as coding which are all things learned in school but that can be enriched at home with ease through activities like this!
  7. quick and easy toddler activities at home bear huntLoose Parts Play – this is an easy one to just let happen. When given free access to our little bears, my daughter with bring them out to be a part of just about anything, especially following a recent reading of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (see more idea and activities here). And why not, with those cute little faces. Bringing in a sensory bin of outdoor bits and pieces creates the prefect landscape for a dramatic small world play for these bears and their bear caves. Letting the little bears make “footprints” in playdough, or splash about in soapy water (which also equals washing them!!!) is a great way to see them used and enjoyed. It’s interesting to watch the other learning from previously listed activities unfold through conversation in loose parts play with familiar toys (more about loose parts here).
  8. Bears in the Tub – These adorable little creatures make wonderful bath friends and are happy to go along for the ride in a makeshift boat sailing the soapy seas. This is a perfect scenario to introduce weight and buoyancy in very early stages as a few too many bears abroad the ship require a shout of “Bears Overboard!”

Although the options are truly endless, these are just a few ideas to get you going and watching your little one love these little counting bears will have you coming up with even more ideas that we would love to hear about!

Check out how easy you can do math activities at home with your toddler preschooler or kindergartener at home and the benefits of working math learning into play for your child #counting #kidsathome #numbers #printables #learning #patterns #addandsubstract

Meaningful Learning in Early Childhood Education

Creating meaningful learning in early childhood education doesn’t have to be overwhelming and complicated. You don’t need the newest toys, you don’t need to spend a small fortune changing your playroom into dramatic play environments that are worthy of Pinterest or Instagram. You just have to trust in the learning that comes from play, with the child in the lead.

read more

The 5 Love Languages of Children

Bookclub Review: The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively I’ve had this book among my collection for a long time. It wasn’t until I reached out to my awesome community and asked if anyone wanted to join me in reading it that I...

read more

Learning Environments for Everyone

Creating learning environments that meet everyone's needs.   This morning I attended a presentation with the hilarious and engaging Marc Battle. Marc is a passionate educator who knows and understands the value and importance of the environment in which children...

read more

The Never Ending Story…

Social Skills from Storytelling I love my job. I genuinely love what I do. I get to work with educators who are changing lives every day. I get to watch the magic happen in between wiped noses and zipped zippers. That magic spot where a child feels fully heard and...

read more

What is a wonder-filled environment?

Why do we need to have this conversation? What is the importance of a wonder-filled environment?!  Watch this incredible video from Education Inspire Change - where they so creatively depict a problem that I believe we are facing.There are so many beautiful...

read more
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Easy Activities for Toddlers That You Can Do at Home

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Easy Activities for Toddlers That You Can Do at Home

Where do I start? I LOVE this book. This version of the story has been around since 1989, so it’s not surprising that you can find activities galore online, (like these freebie printables from a site I discovered when I was teaching in the UK – there are TONS of other printables here – you’re welcome ♥) preprepared kits and inspiration by your little ones after having read it through. The options and extensions for learning are incredible with this seemingly simple story. This is a book that we used frequently at Profound Play and Learning to bring the group together or to shake our sillies out. It was a favourite by all of us and one that led us to so many activities that were easy to create on a whim when the children were interested and with little planning needing to be done ahead of time.

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

Coming up with engaging activities for your toddlers and preschoolers at home doesn't need to be complicated. Check out this recent post filled with amazing ideas for learning through play activities for your little ones.#indoor #springbreak #summer #winter #fall #babysitting #rainyday #funthingstodo

This is the perfect time of year to bring Bear Hunt out. Spring is just around the corner (although already here on the calendar) so outdoor adventures become new again as the cold air starts to taper off. Just as our little loves are keen to get out and play in the spring air, it’s the perfect opportunity to talk about hibernation and the star of this story, the bear! We pair hibernation lessons with Sleep, Bear! by National Geographic Kids, which follows a bear cub and its family as they prepare to hibernate for the winter. Through simple and engaging text features, kids will be introduced to vocabulary in concept, helping them make connections between words and expanding their understanding of the world. I’ve listed more great hibernation and bear stories below that are wonderful resources for supporting and enriching this theme.

Movement:

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is a great story to get everyone up and moving. There are songs that provide a variation on the story (see link for free playlist including Bear Hunt songs here) that are fun to act out. Taking this story outside allows for littles to take the journey to the dramatic as they act out parts of the tale, or come up with their own hunt to find themselves on. We’ve taken the language from the story, and the descriptions of surroundings into the terrains we find outside to build on vocabulary and those muscles through gross motor development as we climb and jump and run through our own drama!

If weather doesn’t allow you to get outside to act out the story, or you wanted something more visual and auditory for your little learner, the author of this story, Michael Rosen, did a reading which you can watch below!  ↓

Explore the Outdoors with Early Literacy:

I spy outside play activities for toddlers bear hunt

In such a short story, you will find concepts that encourage literacy skills, such as descriptive words, repeating language, using your senses to make sense of your environment, sequence and order – it’s brilliant! With this as my guide, I took my daughter on an I Spy walk around her grandparent’s yard. Using the forest floor as our game board, we used descriptive language to say what we saw on our walk. Emergent readers start their comprehension using symbols and oral language through play and create meaning with it. An activity as simple and silly as coming up with funny, repeating words to describe what we saw in the woods are those first steps toward my daughter reading stories on her own. 

For some inspiration on things to do outside, check out the free outdoor scavenger hunt printable found here. 

Sensory:

Building on a walk or hike through even your own yard can turn into a sensory experience as you investigate what you find around you. Leaves, snow, grass, mud, rocks, sticks are all loose parts which are discussed here, and invite small world play when you add familiar toys. Collecting the odds and ends you find along the way to create a sensory bin to take indoors for extended play is a great way to have your little scientist learning about the world around them while increasing language and manipulating materials in new ways.

.

Math:

For lots of great math ideas for toddlers and preschoolers that connect to this amazing story, check out this recent post. 

For Our Youngest Readers:

Bear Theme Going on a Bear Hunt BooksBeesAndABCs

Karma Wilson thought of everything. Introduction to bears, spring, and hibernation isn’t only for toddlers and preschoolers. In these two favourites of ours, the early concepts of colour, and counting to five are all around the forest friends of this incredible series of books. ♥

Emotions and Feelings:

My daughter was nervous when I first discussed this book, hesitant of the bear chasing the family at the end of their adventure as they scramble to find their way back home. But it was a great opportunity to talk about fears, respecting animals, dark caves, and so many other things. This concept on it’s own turned into a big theme in our daycare for quite a while and was a wonderful way to safely express those things that made us feel a little apprehensive.

More Books about Bears and Hibernation!

great books about bears and hibernation for toddlers and preschoolers

What started as a circle time story quickly grew into a world or learning about bears, and quite a collection of bear books for our little (or not so little) library. We use books as the key to most everything we do and the jumping off, and connection points to so many of our activities. Here are a few we loved when we talked about a sleepy bear waking up at this time of year to fill his now empty belly!

Bear Snores On has long been a favourite in our house. My daughter received this book when she was born and we have since come to buy as many Karma Wilson books as we could get our hands on!  In Bear Snores On, a whole host of  animals and birds find their way out of the cold and into Bear’s cave to warm up. But even after the tea has been brewed and the corn has been popped, Bear just snores on! This provides great conversation about how deeply a bear can sleep during hibernation, but what happens in this story when this bear wakes up to find his home filled with all his friends!

The Animals’ Winter Sleep nonfiction into the realm of bedtime read-to-me stories, this rich, melodic text paired with detailed color pencil illustrations describes how 13 North American animal species—such as black bear, ermine,  pileated woodpecker, porcupine, river otter, and ruffed grouse—survive harsh winter snows snug inside their dens, nests, burrows, and lodges. Additional information, geared to very young children, includes animal winter survival adaptations, such as the foods they eat, nesting materials, camouflage, and predator survival along with a series of questions that encourage children to look back at the illustrations for clues. A line art diagram of the final panorama illustration that identifies the location of all 13 animal species is also included. This is an incredible resource!

Everybody at the station! It’s time for winter hibernation in Michelle Meadows story where the rhyming text of this book have children dreaming about what it’s like to hibernate. Young readers will be soothed and delighted as this story introduces them to different types of hibernating animals. The creatures on the train are preparing to snuggle into sleep, although with a passenger list that includes chipmunks, bears, snakes, hedgehogs, groundhogs, frogs, turtles, mice, bats, and more, there’s lot of noise! Will the tired critters ever get to sleep? Take a trip to Hibernation Station to find out!

Kate Messner describes how over the snow, the world is hushed and white, while under the snow lies a secret world of squirrels and snow hares, bears and bullfrogs, and many other animals making their winter home under the snow. This nonfiction picture book exploring the subnivean zone reveals the tunnels and caves formed beneath the snow but over the ground, where many kinds of animals live through the winter, safe and warm, awake and busy, but hidden beneath the snow.


This is an introduction to hibernation while remaining developmentally appropriate for younger readers. Margaret Hall’s story goes beyond bears and uses real world photos to build on learning, and explains how and why some animals prepare for and experience hibernation each year

In Forest Bright, Forest Night, someone is always awake –and someone else is always asleep! Some animals are alert in daytime and sleep at night. Others are alert at night, and are sleepyheads during the day. Plus be sure to count the animals. This book is a very pleasant way to combine science and literature, and is a fun flip around book that your littles will love.

In Jane Yolen’s book, winter’s snow creates a soft blanket of silence, nothing is more comforting than curling up under a cozy quilt. Whether slumber awaits in a warm bed, a rocking hammock, or a nest of leaves, the feeling of comfort and the infinite world of dreams are universal.This reassuring lullaby and gentle illustrations show that the little details truly make a place into a home.

In The Bear’s Winter House, Bear wants to be able to sleep instead of staying awake, shivering, as usual. So he sets about building a winter house. The other animals laugh at him, but when winter comes, bear is cozy while the other animals are in the cold. Being a kind bear, he invites them in to share his house. Unfortunately, they are so excited it seems he’ll get no rest at all this winter! But when spring arrives, he finds a solution.

 


In Frank Asch’s book, winter is coming and Mama Bear has found the perfect spot for hibernating. But Baby Bear doesn’t want to go to sleep. First he wants a snack. Then he wants a drink. And now he wants the moon! What is loving, but very sleepy, Mama Bear to do? (This story line sounds very familiar to my house…)

In Jennifer Ward’s book, there are spectacular illustrations rendered in oil paint, and a rhyming text that describes a tree’s activities from its roots to its branches, introduce young readers to the amazing activities that go on in a tree. Acorns nibbled by chipmunks, ants scurrying across a trunk, a spider spinning a web, and so much more. Although not directed bear and hibernation related, this is a beautiful story that opens up the world of the forest.

 

Do you have any other great resources you have seen for hibernation activities or animal activities in spring?! Let me know what you do to keep your littles excited and engaged at this time of year by commenting below or reaching out to me directly ♥ 

How do you raise a successful and happy child?

Connecting with Kids at Home The pressure of raising successful children for parents As an educator, I know exactly what expectations wait for my daughter when she enters the classroom - still a few years away. I know the journey through school, the pressure to carry...

read more

The Best Gift Ideas for Kids that AREN’T Toys

Alternative gifts for children with more than enough toys Thinking of gift-giving season that is very fast approaching us, I dread the idea of more “stuff” entering my house. Although it is an ongoing battle with the memories I’ve attached to the simplest of things,...

read more

My Favorite Crayola Products for Back to School

Why I love Crayola Products I love Crayola products! Who doesn't?! Crayola makes reliable, dependable, arts and crafts products geared toward children while keeping parent needs in mind. And they cannot be compared to in regard to quality. Have you used a crayon at a...

read more

The Best Teaching Resources That You Can Use at Home

The Best Teaching Resources that Teachers Use at Home that You Will LOVE to Have Around the House! Teaching resources aren't just for the classroom As a teacher, I found ways to make my day run more smoothly in the classroom and to support the children getting the...

read more

Quick and Easy Lemon Volcano Experiment

Quick and Easy Lemon Volcano Experiment

STEAM lemons fun easy simple science booksbeesandabcs.comSTEAM activities have become a big topic in Early Learning and for great reason! They encourage an active investigation into the worlds of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics on the part of the children, and remind us, as adults, that learning doesn’t need to be complicated to be valuable.

Read on for Awesome Lemon Volcano Experiment for Kids

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

Yesterday, F and I were playing around in the kitchen when she spotted a bag of lemons in the fridge and asked to play with them. I gave her two, a bowl and a variety of spoons to do with what she liked. While I cooked on the cupboards above she explored the fruit on the floor below me (safely distanced from anything dangerous I was doing of course) and described to me what she was seeing and experiencing. It was so fun to hear what language she came up with to talk through her playful learning. All I had done was hand her a few kitchen odds and ends and a beautiful fruit and she took charge in her learning.

We decided to take this a step further and create an explosion of fun! I am an avid follower of an amazing STEAM Blog called Babble Dabble Do, where Ana Dziengel (author of the two books noted in this post) explores fun activities for both littles ones as well as the big kid in all of us! We put a last minute spin on what I had remembered reading from her article found here.

 

 

Quick and Easy Science for Kids Lemon Volcano

What we used:

Big Bowl

2 Lemons

Baking Soda

Water

Spoon

(and the kitchen utensils F already had on hand from her earlier play)

Quick Easy Volcano Experiment Kid Friendly ScienceWhat we did:

  • I borrowed F’s 2 lemons and cut out the core through to about midway of the lemon. I kept this portion of the lemon for squeezing into the volcanic fun during the action!
  • I set the lemons inside the bowl, and showed Lady F how to squish the inside of the lemon to make a big mushy mess, while keeping the juice inside the lemon.
  • Now the extra fun part! Experimenting the way only a 2 year old can, we added the baking soda to the lemons (which started to fizz right away!), mashed it into the lemons, added baking soda to the water which we then poured into the lemons, added the saved lemon juice from the removed core and so on. This was a fun way to talk about what we thought would happen with each change we made. Using the spoons and other tools, we increased the bubbling action.

The entertainment continued with every squeeze of the lemon, stir of the bubbled over mess, and story we added to what we were doing. This easily moved into dramatic play as F was inspired with creativity in her kitchen masterpiece.

For next time

In her article, Ana also adds a bit of dish soap ahead of the baking soda to enhance and increase the froth. We found it fun with what we had but will try this next time to see how it differs! She also mentions adding food colouring to the lemons to watch the bubbles become colourful and this will be a great addition to a second attempt at this another time.

The Science for Big Kids:

Citric acid, which we know as a preservative in many of the foods we eat, is found in the lemon juice. When we add the baking soda to the lemon juice, sodium citrate and carbon dioxide are formed, which is what puts on the great show!

Let us know what quick and easy experiments you love doing with your kids when the moment strikes you!

Read more about STEAM in a recent Books, Bees & ABCs post here.

Amazingly simple volcano experiment you can do at home today with your kids to engage them in science and have them excited about messy play! Super quick and simple activity that can easily be done at the last minute when you are looking for something fun to keep the kiddos busy #toddler #preschooler #bigkids #scienceathome #learningathome #simpleactivities #STEAM

How do you raise a successful and happy child?

Connecting with Kids at Home The pressure of raising successful children for parents As an educator, I know exactly what expectations wait for my daughter when she enters the classroom - still a few years away. I know the journey through school, the pressure to carry...

read more

The Best Gift Ideas for Kids that AREN’T Toys

Alternative gifts for children with more than enough toys Thinking of gift-giving season that is very fast approaching us, I dread the idea of more “stuff” entering my house. Although it is an ongoing battle with the memories I’ve attached to the simplest of things,...

read more

My Favorite Crayola Products for Back to School

Why I love Crayola Products I love Crayola products! Who doesn't?! Crayola makes reliable, dependable, arts and crafts products geared toward children while keeping parent needs in mind. And they cannot be compared to in regard to quality. Have you used a crayon at a...

read more

The Best Teaching Resources That You Can Use at Home

The Best Teaching Resources that Teachers Use at Home that You Will LOVE to Have Around the House! Teaching resources aren't just for the classroom As a teacher, I found ways to make my day run more smoothly in the classroom and to support the children getting the...

read more

It Takes A Village: Meet Amanda

It Takes A Village: Meet Amanda

I have been so blessed to have been surrounded by an incredible group of friends at many points in my life. The ebb and flow that we all go through introduces us to new faces and friendships. Never was this more important then when I was pregnant with my daughter and attempting to navigate the terrifying and overwhelming feeling of being a soon-to-be-first-time-momma! I had been living in Fredericton, New Brunswick for a while but few of my close friends had children or experience with this new journey I was about to embark on. At the time, I was working in an office filled with incredible women, separated by grey walls. Perhaps recognizing the look of exhaustion on a fellow employee, Amanda reached out with support and kindness, sharing tips and tricks to make preparing for the baby much easier. Three years later, Amanda has become a forever friend as our little ones play together and we support each other through life’s continued excitement. 

Amanda introduced me to Peekaboo Beans and it was instant love. As a brand that works to support children’s play and one who creates it’s clothing with all children in mind, it was a match made it heaven. Click here to learn a little bit more about the brand. And read on to learn more about this amazing woman I am lucky to call my friend ♥

Jessica 

Amanda Hanson

amanda peekaboo beansI’m a homebody who loves snuggling with my kids, family time, drinking all the wine, and a good belly laugh. I’m Mama to Max, Avery and my fur baby Beasley. I struggle daily with whether to stay up late to have ‘me time’ or get the sleep I’m desperate for.

I started selling Peekaboo Beans in June 2016. After a long and mentally exhausting stint with miscarriage and infertility, I finally became pregnant with my 2nd child and needed a distraction to get me through those early pregnancy weeks. I had been an avid Bean lover for a few months and started buying so much for my daughter that I decided it would be a great investment financially and mentally to become a stylist. I initially started buying my daughter Beans simply because they are made specifically to be comfortable for kids to play in. We all know how uncomfortable it is to be constantly yanking our pants up or pulling our shirts down and I didn’t want her to have to deal with that. I want her to be able to be free and move without restrictions while she plays. Plus, I mean they’re totally cute! Since buying Beans, they’ve seen us through many phases – the ‘I want to dress myself phase’ (perfect because the lines are made to easily mix and match), the ‘this dress/sock/pant leg/tag/breath of air ‘tickles’ me’ phase (perfect because there are no buttons or sequins to tickle, and the twill tape hem and tacked down pockets mean that the fabric won’t get twisted and become uncomfortable from washing) and my favorite the ‘it still fits me phase’ (perfect because many Beans items are grow with me and are designed to last through a growth spurt, so that tunic does now work as a shirt 😉).

peekaboo beans at books bees and abcs

When I had Max, the first outfit I put on him was a Peekaboo Beans playsuit (still my go-to for him). The chin guard keeps him protected from getting pinched, diaper changes are a breeze with the full length zipper, the fold over mittens are awesome for crazy, scratchy baby nails in those early days, and he’s able to crawl, scoot, walk, roll and even sleep in the cozy fabric. I love the entire baby line for him and now he’s even big enough to wear items from the boys line with sleeves and pant legs rolled up!

Those are all great reasons for my kids to wear Peekaboo Beans, but I also love a good deal and Beans are expensive so I needed to justify the cost to myself… easy! Beans last forever. Seriously. The one-of-a-kind high thread count ensures the clothes are not only comfortable, but also ensure longevity and sustainability. My kids are wearing Beans that are much older than they are and are still in perfect condition. Limited or no wash-wear, no shrinking, no twisting or bunching. Plus, because they wear so well, I am able to sell their clothes when they finally outgrow them and get a nice chunk of change back. The resale market for Beans is fantastic! I also love that Beans are pre-shrunk. Far too often I’ll get a ‘sale’ at local children’s stores, but the items will shrink after a wash and become too small, or fade and look ancient. Finally, a huge bonus is that there are no harmful dyes. While this is a bonus in and of itself, it also means that stains come out VERY well. It took a bit of trial and error to find a stain removal regimen that works for me, but now I’m in my groove and there isn’t a single stain on a single Bean that scares me. Bring it 😉

Don’t take my word on it – the best way to fall in love with this brand is to try it out for your own kids!

5 Tips for Discussing Consent with Your Young Child

5 Tips for Discussing Consent with Your Young Child

Talking about consent with young children can feel overwhelming while looking into the eyes of our little ones.

In the world we live in now, being bombarded with messages and information about our bodies and sexuality (read more about this here in a recent post), it can feel almost impossible to stay on top of doing enough to protect our children from insecurities, pressures and dangers. My goal came from wanting to create a wealth of knowledge, vast and varied about consent and sexuality as well as a space to allow conversations to occur through trust and safety. This need not be the heavy and uncomfortable conversations you think about when remembering “birds and bees” talks you may have had with a parent or in sex. ed. class – you know the one paired with red cheeks and emotionally pitched voices. My daughter is two years old so I keep this conversation light and easy. It’s my belief and hope that laying the ground work for this communication will make the discussion familiar and less intimidating (for both of us) as she gets older.

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

The importance of this became clear to me yesterday, during a trip to the grocery store – a regular and favourite activity for my daughter. She engaged in her typical friendly behaviour of saying hello to everyone who caught her eye. I do really enjoy watching the joy she gets out of making people smile as well as the lasting effect of the smile upon the fellow shopper as we continue to see them throughout the store. Having such an outgoing child has been a blessing in so many ways and is so fun to watch, but comes with the worry of how this may change when she isn’t so little and has less concern about holding my hand – how could it not, when I grew up with the “stranger danger” mentality.

So, I started the lessons early

I started talking about bodies, teaching her the names for body parts and letting her speak with comfort about them as well as empowering her with the knowledge that her body is her own. It is one that holds her heart which beams with love, her stomach that feels full or empty around mealtimes, her brain which stores memories, ideas, thoughts and all the funny stories she loves to share. We talk about arms for hugging, legs for dancing and walking, male and female genital areas and their jobs, about people who have different shapes and sizes and how all bodies are good bodies. Through all of this we also talk about how it is her choice if she wants to be hugged or kissed, even by those people she knows well, such as her father and I. Although I will admit it is heartbreaking when she isn’t interested in a hug from her Momma.

She will easily use consent phrases in moments where she decides she doesn’t want to be hugged or kissed by extended family, during physical play with a friend that she has not invited, or in the tub when she practices this language the most. All of this has been wonderful practice for the moment she had to use it and didn’t question her ability to do so.

“No thank you! My body!”

While we were at this grocery store, I was paying for my purchase with her sitting in the cart at the end of the aisle within reach. As a woman approached, F said hello as she often does which I suppose allowed this person to feel welcomed to first comment on my daughter’s appearance and then proceed to tickle her. We did not know this woman and although I would have been taught to be polite and laugh this off, my stomach flipped with discomfort and before time allowed response, my daughter spoke for herself with ease. “No thank you! My body!” The woman quickly shot me a glance, perhaps shocked and surely embarrassed and maybe looking for me to make an apology on my young daughter’s behalf as kid’s do indeed say the darndest things. I smiled at her (proud of myself for not feeling the need to apologize, and more proud of my daughter for using her own language to share her thoughts on the matter) and said nothing. Upon reflection, I could have expressed that my child had been taught to speak up about her own consent, and I have gone back and forth on this. My little lady wasn’t rude. She was direct, yes. But she certainly wasn’t rude about it. Her words were clear and easily understood (as I was able to see by the facial response of this stranger) but I sit here now, happy that my daughter spoke up for herself and that I reiterated the message to her by telling her I was proud. I didn’t want her to feel that I had any other feelings about it, because I didn’t. I’m glad I didn’t feel obligated to have the woman understand what happened from my perspective, because the goal was to have my daughter know she spoke clearly enough for herself.

Teaching her consent and ownership of her own body is of course my first priority. Her body is her own and her choice. My daughter is incredibly loving and although it’s so cute to see her want to hug new friends she meets, I have also begun to teach her about other people’s consent.

Where we have started:

  1. With a two year old I hear “NO” a lot in the run of a day. It can be incredibly frustrating, especially when I know it’s more of a test of her freedom rather than how she really feels. But I have come to see this as an expression rather than a behaviour and have encouraged my daughter to hear NO from others as well. This means that whatever is going on should STOP; to understand and respect the power of NO and how to use and hear it.
  2. I really believe strongly that children should not be forced to accept a hug from someone if they don’t feel comfortable to do so. In the age of “NO” I hear this about most things but I’m not going to question it when it comes to contact with another body. That being said, I am also encouraging my daughter to ask permission before rushing to share a hug or kiss with someone else as they may feel the same way and would rather not. Within this, we have experienced moments where a friend may want a hug (“yes”) and then change their mind (“no!”) and that is their choice and their right, as it is for her too.
  3. Lady F is incredibly empathic and shows concern for someone crying, coughing, sneezing, or anything she deems out of the ordinary for the situation. She will ask if they are okay or what is happening. This has been helpful in having her understand when she has done something that may have hurt someone else, either physically, “this is MY toy” (paired with a shove) or emotionally,“you not play this right now with me”. Always done in language she can understand, we have talked about how it feels to be hurt and that we don’t want to hurt others if we can help it. This easily moves to how we could help someone that is feeling sad, scared or hurt.
  4. Although my daughter tends to be outgoing, she also has moments of shying away. Forcing her to come out from behind my leg has never been something I’ve been comfortable doing. Rather, we are learning to name our feelings: frustrated, angry, nervous, afraid, shy and when to use them. Recently, while shopping for a couch, we encountered a friendly salesman who knelt down to F and said hello. She responded with, “I feel shy from you. We all have those moments where something feels out of sorts and I want her to feel welcome to voice that. In this instance I talked to her about who the gentleman was and why we were there but she preferred to stay close and not talk to the man. And that’s okay. We also use the knowledge of these words to help identify when someone else may feel this way. Characters in stories or through dramatic play has been a great way to reinforce this and feel safe expressing these feelings.
  5. As I noted above, we have taught Lady F the names of body parts and generally what they do. She is free to express this anytime, anywhere. She recently told my Grandfather, Grandmother and Uncle what parts they had which I’m certain embarrassed them, but they are just body parts and she shouldn’t be intimidated by the language. Bath time is always a great opportunity for learning words when her whole body is in sight to her. Asking her permission to wash these parts of the body teaches her that I value her body being her own and sets the stage that everyone should be asking first before touching her and that she can indeed say NO. In the moments when she doesn’t want to have a part washed, like when yogurt is caked on her face but she’s not interested in my wiping it off, I will invite her to do it herself and luckily for me she is at an age when independence and responsibly is desirable and seems to be working to get the yogurt off.

These conversations will change and my approach will differ as my daughter grows but for now I feel like we are off to a great start. I would love to hear how you talk to and model consent with your young children or if you have more to add to the list or resources above!

Resources

As you’ve probably come to know, I use books to encourage conversation, take quiet time to talk, connect with my daughter and work our way through whatever topic is on the table. This comes naturally to us as books are such a large part of our home culture. Throughout this post you will see two images of books I’ve come to find helpful to start these conversations, which when clicked will lead you to more information on the book and the affiliate link. There are so many books out there that talk about these issues, some heavier than others. Some set for older ages, while others are perfect for the very young. No matter the books you use, I would encourage you to get comfortable with it first so you can be open to whatever questions may (or may not) come from it. Leave it around to be chosen as frequently as any other book. Make it a part of your library.

 

learning through play every day books bees and abcs toddler preschooler learning activities

Join the Community

Sign up here for access to resources, freebies and support right in your inbox. I reach out weekly to share recent posts, and the newly created printables for the week and you're welcome to reply with your questions and comments that I will happily support you with as best as I can!

I know the feeling of an already overwhelmed inbox so I won't be sending unnecessary content to you and you're welcome to unsubscribe at any time. 

Learn more about my privacy policy here.

You have successfully signed up for free educational content to your inbox! So happy to have you!