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How to Set Up Your Own Structured Toddler Playgroup

Hookster's Ideas outlines a step-by-step guide to setting up your own structured playgroup for toddlers.

I know it is easy to fall into the same routine every week and thus feeling less than adequate as your toddler's only teacher.  I was feeling this way from time to time and wanted to create some kind of structured playgroup that would help keep me accountable for doing all the great activities I had in my mind that I knew my toddler would benefit from doing AND help stay-at-home parents who aren't teachers find their inner teacher and build that confidence that they can and are a great teacher to their child.  Thus Tinkering Toddlers came about.  If you are the Long Beach, CA area, I would love for you to join us (email me!), but if you aren't, which most aren't, here is how you can do this with your group of friends too.



Logistics

It is as easy as 1-2-3 to start your own structured toddler playgroup!
  1. The first thing to think about is where do you want this playgroup to meet, for how long, and how often?  We meet in our small condo once a week for an hour for four weeks. 
  2. Do you want to charge for the materials?  For your time and preparation? Do you want to rotate between houses with different members hosting? I charged $10 for materials per class and each session is four weeks long.  This barely covered the cost of the materials plus a few toys that all could use during the social play time.  Currently, I am the only one hosting/leading, but that may change as time goes on!
  3. How may people do you want to limit it to?  What ages?  Is it parent-participation required? I limited it to 10 kids per class plus their parent/guardian.  I knew that there would likely be someone out sick or unable to make it at least once a week. I ended up with about 7 per class with about 5 showing up each class. I limited the age to 1-2ish year olds and required that they have a parent with them at all times!
  4. What if I just moved to the area or would like to make some new-parent friends? I had a few friends who wanted to do this with me, but I also wanted to get some new people to join too.  I advertised the class in a couple local Facebook moms' groups and got a lot of interest through that.  

Planning

Make a calendar of activities you want to do with your kiddos.  I broke it down by themed class and then each station.
Are you looking for some engaging activities for your toddler?  Check out my spring curriculum!

This, I found to be more time-consuming than I thought because I decided to make a resource that others could use to duplicate if they wanted to do so in their neighborhood.  If you use what I created, that will save you oodles of time.  It will just be about printing and gathering materials.  I set it up to be loosely stations-based, meaning that I have one science-like activity, one art activity, one movement activity per class.  I start with some kind of literature/language building activity that we all do together like an interactive read aloud with felt board activity or a song/change/finger play type thing.  Then we finish with social play to encourage all of those social behaviors necessary for success as an adult (sharing, problem solving, etc.).  

During Class

I had in my mind that I would set a timer and have groups move from one station to the next, but that is definitely NOT what happened.  What transpired was something much more fluid and I loved it!   Kids chose what looked interesting first, parents helped them with that activity and then once done, they moved on to the next thing.  It was as if the kids had an internal clock and it all worked out fine! Social play morphed into snack time since they had worked up a fierce appetite when it was all said and done!

If you have ever wanted to start your own structured playgroup for toddlers, you must read this post about how to do it as easy as 1-2-3!



Want to get these ready to go activities to do with your toddler or better yet to help you get started on forming your own playgroup?  You can snag them here.

Check out my GROWING BUNDLE that will include 12 months when it is complete. 


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