As my son Jasper grows (21 months! What!?), we’re constantly challenging ourselves to come up with inventive ways to facilitate awesome super-human brain growth. My partner Sean was cruising the Internet for ideas and stumbled upon a link to a local teacher-supply store. While we were wary (and I was sure we were going to run into those inspiration posters), we figured it was worth a shot.
After arriving at the store and walking our initial lap or two, we stumbled into the poster section. Lo and behold, these were not the cheesy posters
we I was scared of, but were actually informative and capable of grabbing a toddler’s interest and holding on to it.
Sean had the idea to get a few posters (we have eight now, they were around $2 each) and hang them in our living room so Jasper could see and slowly grow interested in them. I suggested we hang them at his eye level, so he can interact with the information, we left with:
- two body posters (one showing the muscles, one showing the bones)
- two food-related posters (vegetables and fruits)
- a shapes poster
- two about the sky (one showing the phases of the Moon, the other describing and naming types of clouds)
- an animal-themed alphabet poster.
This idea isn’t for the design-heavy — we’re living in a somewhat cramped apartment that we view as pretty temporary (lack of ownership = we’re not tied to a city we hope to eventually move from), and there’s not a real design scheme here. We have a blue wall, a yellow wall, and three poster-and-art bedecked white walls in our living room — plenty of space for a few posters that might teach our kid something.
In case you’re thinking the posters are too advanced a toddler, I’d suggest you think again! Jasper can now identify a square, rectangle, rhombus, circle, and oval. (The “gons” like penta-, hexa-, and octa- still give him trouble.) He can identify various fruits and vegetables, some of which we eat frequently, and others (like starfish fruit) we rarely see. He also knows the difference between inside and the peels on the outside (some fruits are cut in half so you see both parts). When it comes to letters, he can correctly identify (and sometimes even say) E, S, H, A, and O — both on the poster and outside our house.
No need to ooh! and ahh! over Jasper’s brains — I’m pretty sure most kids would pick up on the info if it was in front of him or her all day. Jasper’s very into his posters, and spends time throughout the day checking them out, pointing and indicating he wants to know more. He’s started pointing at his body parts when he looks at the muscles and bones posters, and tonight went so far as to point as his elbow and then the elbow of the skeleton. Does he understand that he has bones in his body? Probably not, but he’s getting there.
My point: this was super-crazy-insanely easy. It took about 30 minutes to pick out the posters, two minutes to hang them up, and it’s something that’s actually teaching Jasper a thing or two. The posters are a lifesaver during the day, now that it’s really cold outside and our activities are more limited. Most importantly, the posters are a small part of a larger goal that is slowly being realized — Jasper being increasingly interested in attaining knowledge.
We’re both aware that we’re only at the beginning stages of this whole teach-the-kid-everything part of life, and I’d love to hear from you — what unique and fun methods are you employing to help your kid(s) learn (without spending oodles of money)? How do you make learning fun?
If you don’t have a teacher supply store near you (or if you just like shopping online), I find a whole slew of options online: Our Solar System (Planetary Information) Art Poster, Flags of the World Placemat, Periodic Table of the Elements Poster Print, Multiplication-Times Tables, Educational Poster Print, and my personal (and somewhat pricey, when compared to the others) favorite, Commonly Misused Words Laminated Educational Poster. Don’t like these? Run a search for “educational posters” on Amazon and see what you come up with!