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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Turn Anything into an Activity

Since my Sunday Surf post about online toddler games, Baby T has really mastered using the mouse. I had a comment that was a good resource for online toddler games, and it's amazing how perfect it is. It's engaging and just challenging enough to keep Baby T's attention and make him feel like he can do it by himself without getting frustrated.

We've been working on the alphabet, and last week we focused on the letter A. It's important to provide toddlers with different ways of learning: tactile, auditory, visual, etc.

We were playing a game on Starfall where you had to match the capital and lower case letters. The A's were apples on a tree, and you were required to put them into their corresponding baskets.

Baby T was really into it, so I decided to make it a real game. Now, in the olden days, I wouldn't have done this--it wasn't going to be all cute and crafty; it was going to be quick and, uh, rustic. I threw all perfection to the wind and made our own apple basket game.

Baby T played with it.
Little M played with it.
Then, Baby T adapted it to his free play and turned the paper into garbage for his trash truck. Go figure. My kid's obsessed with trash.
Do you often scour Pinterest for the latest adorable toddler activities or marvel at your favorite blogger's ability to turn a few found objects into a shiny homemade educational toy, only to find yourself without the time to truly make anything all that remarkable? You don't have to. Toddlers don't care how fancy their DIY toys are. In fact, the more time you spent on it, the more likely they are to destroy it.

Next time your child is showing interest in learning a certain idea or playing with a particular item, think about how you can turn it into a quick activity. Here are some ideas:
  • Does your child chase squirrels at the park? Make a squirrel craft: Paint grey blobs on paper. This is a great time to experiment with finger painting or even using a balloon as a paintbrush. Then, have your child pull apart some cotton balls until they are feathery. Glue them to the paper as a tail. When the paint is dry, have your child paint the tail. You can use this craft to talk about textures and colors.
  • Does your child pick up leaves when you're outside? Make a "Change of Seasons" stained "glass" piece: Cut out leaf shapes from tissue paper in green, red, and yellow, and cut out a tree trunk from brown construction paper. Cut out two identically-sized squares of contact paper and peel the backing off of one of them. Stick the tree trunk to it, then have your child place all of the green leaves on the branches. After that, have your child stick all the red and yellow leaves on after that. Cover the artwork with another piece of contact paper, and you'll have a beautiful tree to hang in a window. The sun will catch all the colors, and you can use this to discuss how the leaves change color in the fall.
  • Is your child interested in recycling? Make quick things to recycle: Take paper and crumple it into balls, cut out bottle shapes, and mold aluminum foil into small cylindrical shapes. Grab some boxes from your recycling bin and label them "Paper, glass, aluminum." Have your child sort your "recycling" into the correct container.
These are just a few ways to come up with a quick activity. You can turn anything into a toddler activity if you just use what you have on hand and think outside the box.


MarfMom said... Best Blogger Tips

These are great ideas! I'm going to try some of them with my toddler. And you're the second person to mention the Starfall website to me in the past couple of weeks. Guess we'd better check that one out, too! :-)

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