I brought Jake's barn, animals and tractor into our Structured Play area. I know that he loves these toys and they directly connect to our monthly theme. As stated in my last post he goes and picks an animal out of the barn and brings it over to the book we are reading or the activity we are doing. Which shows the connections he is making.
He is already doing great with the vocabulary! He is saying many more animal names and says them without prompting. I like to have this option in our Structured Play area so Jacob can solo play in addition to completing planned activities. This is something he needs but I also feel strongly that it is an important option for him.
I love to see him play, make animal sounds and look over to me and say the animal names. This 'solo play' is just as valuable as the planned activities. Facilitating an environment where learning and playing go hand-in-hand is what makes learning fun. As a teacher, I HATE to see drill and kill activities, especially with toddlers. While playing we can still integrate vocabulary, the jobs of farmers and what animals eat.