toddler

Oobleck...a solid and a liquid!

I have been making this with children of all ages for over 6 years and I have yet to meet a child (or adult) who doesn't react to Oobleck by saying "coooooollll". 

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Age recommendation: Toddler, Preschool or early elementary.

Materials: Corn starch, water and a bowl. 

How to play:

Full details and instructions can be found on the Scientific American website. Oobleck is an interesting substance to play with because it can be both a hard substance and a liquid substance at the same time. Use a small deep bowl for this activity. This way you can "punch" the substance and also place your entire hand in the bowl as well. This activity gets messy. Make sure you have your floors covered or do this outside. It is well worth the mess though!

Learning and Development: You can use this to develop scientific inquiry and also build on pincer grip. You can place one marble in a deeper bowl and make your Oobleck in this bowl. Ask your child to try to get the marble and take it out using only their thumb and index finger.  You can also challenge them to make a ball with Oobleck. The faster you move the substance around in your palms, you will see a ball form. The moment you stop rolling your palms around it will liquify and drip back into the bowl. Ask questions about observation such as "how does it feel?" "what happens when you hit it quickly?" "how can you get your hand to sink to the bottom?". 

Colourful rice activity

Which child doesn't enjoy the colors of the rainbow! This activity was lots of fun! It was mess free since the rice gets "painting" in a Ziplock so my baby was able to join us in the fun.

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Age recommendation: Any age as long as your baby does not put this in their mouths. You need to monitor them as they play.

Materials: Rice (we used Basmati), Ziplocks, Tempera Paint, large tray and container.

How to play: Full instructions along with a video can be found on The Imagination Tree website. 

Learning and Development: This is mostly a discover and play activity. It is a great sensory activity for young children. I added some small animals along with fine motor tools from Learning Resources and trucks (not seen in picture). These types of activities are wonderful to help build concentration skills in children. They are calming and allow parents to "take a breathe" (as long as you get used to the mess some create!). If you want to work on executive function skills, you can ask your child to guide you into some imaginary play with the animal figurines. Is the rice their food? Is it their home? Allow your child to decide what role you play. If they create a scenario (i.e. the giraffe ate the lion's food), you can even ask them how your "animal" should react. This will help them build emotional awareness and self-regulation skills as well. 

 

Asking your child to read to you

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I have realized that there are a few books that are simple enough for my toddler to read to me. There is such a joy and pleasure of sitting back and having your child read to you. 

I love the book, Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton. The words are simple (colours, clothing and the word OOPS!) and the book always makes my children laugh. 

Doing this with my daughter has helped her build confidence and excitement to read. I have also begin to give her more complicated books and give her the green light to tell me the story. She expresses such a joy in doing this and it warms my heart. I love hsaring these moments with her. If only they could stay this young forever! :) 

DIY Colour within the lines

We started practicing colouring within the lines, but I felt that pictures in colouring books were too small. I took out some large drawing paper and drew a big design with a black marker. This helped my toddler begin to understand the concept of colouring between the lines. 

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Age suggestion: Toddler, Preschool

Materials: Large drawing paper and markers. 

How to play:

  • You can either prepare the activity or ask your child to do it. Scribble some circular shapes on a large piece of white paper. Make sure the shapes you are drawing are closed up (see picture). 
  • Give your child the goal of drawing/colouring inside each little shape and not passing the lines. 

Learning and Development: You can learn colours with this activity and learn how to draw within the lines. If you have a 3 year old, you can try to get them to copy the circle shapes with you since the CDC states that around the age of 3, a child should copy circles with a crayon. 

Paint plastic wrap

I found this activity on Facebook, but I can't find the person who posted! I want to make sure that I don't take credit for this awesome activity! All I know is that we had a blast doing this.

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Age recommendation: Toddler, Preschool

Materials: Tempera paint, clear plastic wrap, paintbrushes 

How to play:

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  • We first flipped the kid's table in our playroom.
  • We then took our plastic wrap and wrapped it around the tables legs.
  • We added some of our paint onto a plate and started painting the plastic wrap. My toddler LOVED it. We have an easel which she uses, but for some reason, painting on this plastic wrap added a fun factor to it. 

Learning and Development: You can use this activity to learn colours, draw shapes, build on language by having great conversations with your child as you have fun painting! If you can get the table to be high enough, you can even have your child paint while being on their tiptoe's, which is a motor milestones for 2 year olds according to the CDC

Playing pretend grocery store

I love pretend play! I get to be a child again and get a glimpse of my daughters incredible imagination. I didn't have any pretend money so I made some on my own. 

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Age recommendation: Toddler, preschool. 

Materials: We used our Learning Resources fruits and vegetables, Little Tikes Cash Register, white paper, star stickers from the dollar store, and other play food items (tea set). 

How to play

  • We cut out small pieces of paper (equal sizes) for our pretend money. 
  • I wrote numbers 1-5 and on each paper added some star stickers to match the numbers. I made them with my daughter and I had her add the stickers to the small papers.
  • I added a "price" to our play items with star stickers.  
  • We then placed random play food items and tea set items around the playroom. 
  • I first played the cashier and asked my daughter to go "grocery shopping". She had a small basket and filled it up with items. 
  • Since she basically collected everything we laid out, I divided the items into "small bills" since we were practicing counting between 5-10. For instance, I combined the small blue plate and the red tea cup so her bill added up to $6. I asked her for 6 dollars and together we figured out which one of her little paper money as equal to $6. Stick to what you are introducing to your child or what you would like to teach them. Do not overwhelming them. This is meant to be fun. If they are not getting them right it is ok. Keep playing the game with them regularly and it will come. You want to make sure that they enjoy themselves and stay motivated, strong and confident. 

Learning and Development: Around age 2, the CDC states that a child should play simple believe games. Pretend play allows for lots of learning such as:

  • Language development: You can remove the number aspect of this activity and simply play grocery shopping. Place a few items and first go around the room with your baby or toddler and name each object you see. Then you can walk around with them and ask them to find "the banana". 
  • Numbers: This is a fun way to introduce number recognition, counting and math. 
  • Memory: You can create a small game called "Grocery list". Tell your child they have to go "buy the food you need for dinner" and give them the list verbally. For instance, "chicken, plum, banana" (depends on which pretend food items you have!). Then have them go out to your pretend grocery store and see how many items they can remember. Start with 2-3 and make your way up! 

Curious Neuron Recommendation: Roll and Play by ThinkFun

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I played this many times with my daughter after she turned 1, and now at age 3 she still loves to play with her baby brother who is now 13 months. 

It is an easy game to play. Roll the big fluffy coloured die and select a card matching the colour you rolled. 

I love the cards they have. Some ask you to find an object with a specific colour, other cards ask you to perform an action (i.e. jump 3 times) or make animal sounds and some cards ask you to mimic an emotion. Brilliant! 

I absolutely love this game and the fact that you can introduce a game at such a young age (they recommend starting at 18 months). You learn to take turns and wait for your turn, you learn colours, animal sounds, emotions, counting and more! 

You can find this game on Amazon

Taping objects to a platter

This was an activity I was able to do with both my baby and toddler. I asked my toddler to tape various objects that I gave her and asked my baby to remove the tape to get the object back. 

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Age recommendation: Baby or toddler. Simply change the goal you set out depending on their age

Materials: Tape (I used electrical tape), small objects such as toy cars/trucks, popsicle sticks, crayons and objects from the kitchen. You don't want the objects to be too think or wide. 

How to play:

  • First you need to pre-cut your pieces of tape if your child is too young to do this.
  • Prepare small objects and let your child decide which they would like to tape to the tray.
  • Ask your child to tape the objects themselves, or again, if they are too young you can do this step as well. Always try it out with them first, see if you can teach them how to tape the objects as well if they never tried it before. 
  • If you have a small baby or young child that is learning how to speak, use action words such as "pull" and demonstrate how to pull the tape off. 

Learning and Development: The CDC 18 month milestones states that a child should point to something they want. This is why in this activity, we lay out all the objects and ask them which one they want to tape. Once they are all taped, you can continue building their language by asking them which one they will remove. Point to one and ask "Do you want this one?" then nod or shake you head while saying "yes" or "no". At around 18 months, a child should say and shake their head for "no". This activity also helps build their attention skills. Let them play with this activity to see how long they stay focused. Don't worry if it is only a few minutes, don't forget they are still young and building these skills! 

Mailbox number match game

Out for a walk? Bring along a marker and some Post-its to keep your child entertained! 

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Age Recommendation: Toddler and Preschool

Materials: Post-Its and Marker 

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How to play:

  • Prepare your Post-Its in advance by writing down one number on each Post-It.
  • Younger children: Stick to single digit numbers and ask them to match the number you wrote down with the number on the mailbox. If they get it wrong, don't say they are wrong right away. Question why they placed it there and work WITH them to find the matching one.
  • With older children: \the goal is either to help them learn to recognize the numbers if they don't know them yet or to help them practice recognizing them. Name the number, for instance, 9 or 11 and have them find it on the mailbox and place the Post-it on it. 

Learning and Development: The CDC milestones for age 4 states that a child should start naming some numbers. You can use this activity to teach them how to recognize them as well. Remember that every child is different. As long as this is a fun game for them continue playing. If their interest diminishes, move on and continue walking! You can even hand over the Post-Its and you become the person that has to match the numbers.