Today I’m doing something I’ve never done before… a product review. And the reason is because I believe you’ll find these activity plans from Jamie at Hands On: As We Grow hugely helpful and useful.
I was not given the product for review, and there are no affiliate links here. I bought the weekly activity plans to check them out for myself first because despite the descriptions I wasn’t sure whether these plans would be value for money.
The good news is, they certainly are! And whether you’re a teacher, parent or carer here’s why I like them…
What’s the Purpose of these e-books?
To encourage us to do a hands-on activity every day with our kids… or they do the activity and we take the time for a sit down! Please note: 1 year-olds and 2 year-olds also have an activity e-book available.
What’s in the Books?
There are 4 e-books: 1 each for 1 year-olds, 2 year-olds, preschool activities and preschool learning activities
Each e-book contains:
- tips for being successful
- 5 weeks of daily activity plans (with links to more detailed descriptions if needed)
- complete supply lists
- blank weekly activity planners
- Go-To Lists with another 100 ideas
- A resource page with links to many, many more activities including holiday-themed crafts
The Activities are Realistic
How often do we decide to do activities with our kids but get halfway through and realize that we must have had a brain blip to take it on? Jamie’s activities won’t leave you feeling like that. At first I thought some of the activities were too simple, but when I clicked through to the fuller descriptions complete with photos of her kids working on each task I realized how clever and open-ended they are.
For the most part the activities make use of everyday items we already have in the house (or classroom). For example, when I looked through the full supply list for the 35 preschool learning activities the only thing I didn’t already have was a fly swatter. Fortunately items you don’t have can often be substituted with something else, for example instead of the fly swatter I can use a flat kitchen spatula (since it’s not actually being used to swat flies).
Do I want to spend 20 mins preparing for an activity? As a teacher, I often spend a lot more time than that, but I’d rather not!! And as a mum, I’d rather not, too! The goal is to engage in an activity every day. If there’s prep time involved we might manage for a week but then we’ll give up which defeats the purpose. For eg, one activity is to practice pouring a pitcher of water into cups. So all you have to do is grab those plastic cups (different sizes would be good), grab a pitcher of water and pop outside to play. We often do this kind of activity in preschools because it’s great for developing fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, independence, concentration and perseverance. Besides, it’s great fun and they’re learning all about volume! All this with 30 seconds of prep. Teachers… are you listening???
One of the best features is the variety of activities offered. Often as teachers and parents we tend to prefer certain types of activities over others which can mean an imbalance for the child. For eg, if I’m the crafty-type we’ll be making little treasures everyday at the expense of outdoor experiences or science experiments. Jamie has 7 types of activities in each e-book and makes sure they’re all covered each week. Of course, if your children prefer sensory activities for example, there are plenty of additional ideas in the Go-To Lists.
ENGAGE Preschool Activity categories: gross motor, fine motor, craft, art, experiments, outdoors and family.
LEARN Preschool Activity categories: Literacy, math, names, colours, shapes, nature and family.
While the e-books are age-focused it doesn’t mean the activities can’t be adapted for older or younger siblings. In fact Jamie encourages this, particularly when you are dealing with multiple ages at the same time. Even better, Jamie has 2 e-books to cover 1 year-olds and 2 year-olds as well so if you’ve got even younger ones I recommend you look at all 4 e-books since it’s cheaper to buy them together.
While the set plans cover 5 weeks Jamie’s intention is that by that stage we will feel confident enough to develop our own using her blank template and the Go-To Lists. If we did every activity on those lists once it would take another 14 weeks… and since kids love to repeat popular activities you could, technically speaking, stretch those 5 weeks into 6 months without breaking a sweat. And this doesn’t count the resource page. That makes these e-books great value.
The weekly plans are simply described on one page ready to be attached to the fridge with a check box to tick when you’ve completed each activity. The purpose is to encourage daily use. It’s really easy to let a day or two slip by and then all of a sudden we realise it’s been a week… or two… If you’re keen to be consistent this is a good tool to make use of.
Getting Ready for School
Engaging in a creative, fun activity each day helps little ones prepare for starting school. It doesn’t have to be academically focused because so many of the skills kids require to be competent readers and writers start with basic things. For eg, the hands working together to open a jar or pull up a zip, or 3 fingers working carefully to pick up a marble. An activity a day can really help here. Have a read of this research-based post that talks about the importance of pre-writing skills for long-term academic success, how they can be developed, and how this starts way before Kindergarten.
These books are great value so if you’d like to take a closer look you can find them HERE on Jamie’s website.
Let me know how you go with these activities!
I wish you happy teaching and learning.