Saturday, August 7, 2010

Activities to do with your Toddler: the Wee Ones

I remember when my oldest daughter was just barely a year old and I was at a loss when it came to activities appropriate for her age. You're dealing with short attention spans, limited motor skills, and a tendency to put EVERYTHING in their mouth. Here's some ideas for these tiny ones that I gleaned from Jackie Silberg's Games to Play with Toddlers. Just remember to keep it simple.

Toddler 12-15 months

Color Games
"The first step in learning to identify colors is matching them." Choose two familiar toys of two different colors. Next, find two sheets of paper that match the colors of the toys. Place the toys on the matching paper, and then take one toy off, asking your child to place it back on the matching paper. Always name the color to which you are referring.


Cha, Cha, Cha
Place marbles or other objects that make fun sounds into a tin or small container. Tape the lid securely. Give it to your toddler and encourage her to shake it while you sing with her. (Old Macdonald had a Farm is a good one). Then in a sing-song voice, sing "One, Two, Cha, Cha, Cha." Show her how to shake the tin on "Cha, Cha, Cha."

"Your toddler had a fully developed sense of smell at birth. You may have memories associated with smells." Find several objects with easily identifiable smells, such as flowers, grass, or spices from the kitchen. Tell your toddler, "Let's smell the flowers" and follow with "Oh, that smells wonderful." After you have smelled two things, place both on the table and ask her to point to the one you name, then smell it again together.

Where's the Bear?

Tie one end of a long string around your child's favorite teddy bear and hide the bear somewhere in the house (like a closet). Trail the string around the room, over and under furniture and other objects. Say to your toddler "Let's find teddy." Help her hold the string and follow it to the bear. Play it again and as you follow the string, describe where you are going, "The string is behind the chair, under the rug, etc."
My three year old loved helping me set up this game, figuring out where to hide the string. She was happy to help her sister find the bear (I had to remind her not to help too much) and wanted to hide her own toy next.
You can also teach them the signs for "Where's the bear?"
"Where"=cross your pointer and middle finger and move them back and forth.
"Bear"= cross your arms over your chest and scratch your fingers, like bear claws.

Teddy Bear Train

Find several boxes big enough to hold a teddy bear or other stuffed animal. Hook the boxes together with strong tape or rope and take Teddy on a train ride. Have her pull the train around the house.

Where's the Chick?

Hide behind a door and say, "Cheep, cheep, cheep." Ask your toddler to find the baby chick. If she has trouble, stick out your head or foot so that she can see you. Hide somewhere different and play the game again. Change the animal to a baby cow, duck or other animal familiar to your toddler. Then allow your child to hide and do the same.

Peekaboo Box
You will need a box large enough for your toddler to crawl inside. Cut a hole large enough for your child to put her head through. Encourage her to crawl into the box and play peekaboo with your through the hole. Build anticipation by saying "One, two, three...peekaboo!" When you put your head in the hole each time, change the way you look with a funny face, a scarf or glasses.

The Tearing Game
Collect old magazines, tissue paper, wrapping paper, and foil. "Each provides a different tearing experience because the textures and sounds differ." Show your toddler how to tear the paper and drop it into a box (make sure they don't put it into their mouths). Show her how to wad it into a ball and throw it.
(Then dump the paper onto the cat).

Cereal fun
Seat toddler in her high chair and drop a small piece of dry cereal into a small-mouthed bottle. Your toddler has to figure out that she cannot reach inside to get the cereal and will have to tip the bottle. Once she figures this out, she can work on putting more cereal into the bottle and then remove it.

Puzzle fun
Select a few cookie cutters of varying shapes. Get a piece of styrofoam for each cookie cutter and outline the shape with a pen. Carefully cut around the outline and remove the cutout, keeping the styrofoam frame intact. Give the cutout to your toddler and show her how to fit it back into the styrofoam. Place pieces and cutouts on a table and let her try to match them. Once she can easily match all the cutouts, try making several cutouts in a larger piece of styrofoam.

Doll play
This is a good kitchen game to play while waiting for dinner. Give your toddler a doll or stuffed animal. Ask her about it: Is it hungry? Is she sleepy? Direct your child to: give the doll a kiss, hug the baby, rock it, give her some milk, give her a bath, change her diaper. "All these directions will elicit some response from your toddler. As she begins to enjoy the directions, her listening skills will become more acute."
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