Guide for Starting a Toddler Group
1. Talk to mothers at the masjid and get a group of at least 5 - 8 moms to commit or at least say they are very interested. The family has to have a child between the ages of 0 - 5 years and the mom has to be available to stay with the child in the toddler group.
2. Let the parents know that there would be a small charge of $30 per family per semester to cover the cost of materials.
3. Set a time to meet. (We meet from 10:30 am to 12:00 am every Thursday, but I have seen other groups meet 2 or 3 times a week for 2 or 3 hours.)
4. Decide where you want to meet. Libraries and neighborhood associations often have rooms to reserve for little or no cost. You could also meet at the masjid, or at a member’s home. Just remember, you will have a lot of materials to lug around if you do not have a place that you can use every week where you can lock up the materials.
5. Make a calendar. Set a start date for each semester - it's best to start either at the end of August/ beginning of September when school starts. You should meet at least once a week as a group in your regular meeting place, but other community events can be added to the calendar as they come up. Check the internet or the paper for events like festivals, parades, and library story times. Send the calendars to each of the participants.
6. Next, use the money collected to buy some educational toys and some
plastic boxes with lids. Label each box with the skill that the toys in the box teach. The names of each of the boxes and some ideas for materials to put in the boxes are listed below. Each box should contain something for every age group.
7. Collect some songs that are either Islamic or educational. Noor Arts makes a CD called “We are Muslims.” There are also some songs available on this website.
10:30 - 11:00 Songs
11:00 - 11:25 Play with toys - I let the kids choose what they want to play with.
11:25 -12:00 Ballon play - the reward for kids to clean up the toys is that they get to hit some balloons around the room for a few minutes - I encourage the kids to name the colors of the balloons as they hit them.
12:00 - 12:30 - Outside play and lunch.
A craft time can also be added.
I always start off with fatiha and the Salam alaykum song and then have the kids sing the Shukran Allah for.. ( the child's name) so the kids can get to know each other's names. Then we just randomly sing other songs for the rest of the 30 minutes.
Ideas for Learning Boxes:
Biology/ Science: plastic animals - kids learn to name the animals and sort them by where they live, what they eat, the sounds they say, or by the type of features they have (fur,feathers, long necks, etc.) The youngest children (9+ mo.) start off with farm animals. You can also teach prepositions and the names of baby, male, and female animals.
Health: plastic foods - kids learn the names of foods and sort them by their food group and whether they are healthy or not healthy, or what foods are usually eaten forbreakfast, lunch, or dinner (ie,, most people don't eat chicken for breakfast). You can also get plastic cups and plates and blenders and toasters so kids can learn how to set a table, the names of the utensils, the functions of the utensils (ie, a spatula is for flipping pancakes).
Writing: 1. Sewing cards (Imaginarium sold at Toys R Us makes some really nice ones) - to teach dot to dot tracing in from left to right.
2. Stringed beads - (I also found these at Toys R Us) - The mom makes a string of beads and the child has to copy her string of beads. This teaches pre-spelling skills, left to right direction, and copying/matching skills.
3. Shaving cream - spray a little shaving cream on a board or table and let kids write shapes or letters in it.
4. Sand paper letters - kids trace the letters, numbers, and shapes properly (each letter should be traced only one proper way). You can just make these by cutting the letters out of sand paper.
5. Letter puzzles - I just cut pieces of letters out of construction paper. Most letters are made up of various sized lines and circles or curves. Put the lines and
circles together in different ways to make different letters.
6. Dry erase boards and markers.
7. Small chalk boards and chalk.
Letters & sounds: 1. ABC puzzle
2. Any thing you can find with the ABC's on it (I found some plastic magnets that hook together for example and I've seen those foam puzzle letters too).
3. Magnet letters - be sure to buy the lower case ones too - I got some really big ones at the teacher supply store.
4. Initial sound puzzle pieces - Imaginarium sells some really nice wooden ones where each letter and a picture of something that starts with that letter makes a
5. Sorting - you can also get little buckets and label each with a different letter and have kids sort little items into the buckets by the letter the items start with.
Numbers: 1. Number puzzles.
2. Imaginarium 2 - piece puzzles, kids count the items and match it with the number to make 2 - piece puzzles.
Shapes: 1. Shape puzzles.
2. Pattern blocks. - kids make designs with the blocks (sometimes you can get the pictures of the designs for the kids to replicate).
3. Different size cups that fit into each other, or the different size rings that stack on a little pole.
4. Magnets in a tin - The teacher's supply store sells these little metal tins that have different shaped and colored magnets that you can stick to the tin to make pictures of things. They come with the pictures on cards for the children to replicate.)
5. The Shape cubes - the plastic cube where the child has to insert the right three-dimentional shape into the right hole - great for all ages.
Social Studies: Trucks, cars, construction vehicles, emergency vehicles, trains, wooden streets that you can hook together/train tracks - any toys that you can find that would help students to make a small town. Children should learn the names of the vehicles (ie, cement mixer, mail truck, ambulance), the functions of each vehicle (an ambulance is for taking people to the hospital when they are sick), and the functions and names of different places (hospital, library, post office, police station, etc.)
Language: 1. Opposite puzzles, cards or games (I found two piece puzzles at the Teacher supply store.)
2. What Goes Together? 2-piece puzzles - (I found this at the teacher supply store too.) - the kids have to make sentences to tell why the items go together (ie a
rabbit and a carrot go together because a rabbit eats a carrot, but a chicken and an egg go together because a chicken lays eggs.)
3. Picture vocabulary cards.
Sorting & Patterns: 1. I got some a set of plastic farm animals - there are 6 different colors of each animal (you can also get bears that come in three different sizes as well, or there are vehicles and dinosaurs too. ) And there are pattern cards that go with them and the kids have to find what comes next on the pattern cards.
2. I got some small colored cups for kids to sort the animals into (around 20 months, kids can start to sort by color; put the yellow animals in the yellow cup and the blue animals in the blue cup). You can buy the foldable rings for the older kids to make Ven Diagrams and they can sort them that way too.
Measuring & Est. 1. I filled the whole bin with beans and the kids just scoop with a cup into different size containers. They try to guess how many scoops it will take to fill each container.
Blocks/ Duplos Mostly for the babies- 6 mo. olds should learn to stack and bang blocks together. By 12 mo. they should also line them up - (I think, you may want to check on the internet for all the developmental stages for stuff).
Body Parts: Potato heads are great for this.
Tools: It's good for the kids to learn the names and functions of all the tools (ie, a hammer is for banging nails, a saw is for cutting wood, etc.)
Music: I put in musical instruments. I couldn't afford all the expensive stuff, so I just got some plastic tambourines and morraccas from the party store. We use them when we sing some of our songs in the circle time.
Puzzles: Just put whatever kinds of puzzles you can find. It's best if you can find different types of puzzles like the ones with the individual pieces for the young kids (18 mo. - 2 yrs) and the ones that have to fit together to make one whole picture for the older ones.