1. Learning words with flashcards.
This activity is based on Glenn Doman technique of teaching your baby to read. His technique involves showing 5 flash cards at a time to your baby 3 times a day. It’s better if cards have images of an object, not illustrations, so it’s easier for your child to identify them. Each card should have a text with a name of the object. You can start this activity as early as possible, Doman recommends flash cards from as early as 10 weeks old.
I try to find the pictured object at home, if we have it, and place it next to the card. We read them, play with objects and then I ask Scarlett if she can find the object I’m asking.
We used these flash cards: My First Touch & Feel Picture Cards. I love all the flashcards of My First Touch & Feel series, because each card has a sensory element.
2. Opening foil wrapped toys.
This is one of our toddler’s most favorite activities. She comes back to it a few times a day, and spends at least 20 minutes at a time. Setting up is easy: you just wrap some toys in aluminum foil and let your child unwrap them. It’s great for developing fine motor skills, learning animal names or names of objects you are wrapping and it’s just fun! We also wrap some wind-up toys in foil, and once each one is discovered we say the name of the animal and wind it up. If you are using small toys, make sure to watch your child during this activity.
3. Magnetic theater
Toddlers like to play with magnets, the most important thing at this age is to give them large enough magnets not to fit in their mouth. I had an idea to make a magnetic theater for a while since we had magnetic sheets left from another activity. I couldn’t pick the right story though because some stories had too many characters while others had too few. So making nursery rhyme magnetic theater turned out to be perfect. We made it for the “5 little ducks” nursery rhyme, so we got to sing it and do the actions. Scarlett loved to hold ducks, stick them on a baking tray and take them to a fridge after. You can download a free printable for this project here, place it on magnetic sheets and cut the ducks out.
4. An animal of the day.
It’s easier for a child to understand information one concept at a time. You can use this principle with animals, or any other theme. Pick one animal a day, and try to find references to that animal in your house. Look through your toddler’s books together and point to each occurrence of that animal, show stuffed animal or animal figurine of that animal, if you have it, watch a short video about it. Learn animal sounds, and perhaps some actions that animal does.
5. Adding props to your reading time
Whenever you read a book to your child, support images with toys you have around. You can set this up in advance: collect toys appearing in the book and reveal them as the story goes. You can make toys jump around, talk, tickle your baby or do actions described in the book. We use this and this animal sets a lot for props and other activities, the quality of the toys and the size are great for the price.
6. The cups game
Cups game is a great way to entertain your child. And it’s easy to set up. All you need is 3 or 4 cups and a small toy. You know the game, you hide a toy underneath one of the cups and shuffle them. And then encourage your child to look for the toy. The game teaches object permanence (the toy doesn’t disappear when it’s hidden) and it’s just fun to play! We always clap when Scarlett finds a toy and she gets really excited. We use these cups: The First Years Stacking Up Cups
7. Pretend play
Pretend play is a great activity for toddlers to learn social skills and compassion. Provide your toddler with a tea set and show how to feed animals. Scarlett loves running around with a cup and a spoon, trying to feed everything and everyone around. Pretend play can also include putting an animal to sleep, singing to it, rocking, taking it for a walk, ride in a car, etc.
8. Sitting inside a box and drawing
Kids are a bit like cats. They like boxes. A great way to entertain your child is to let them get inside a box with pencils, markers or finger paint and create art right on the box. This activity develops creativity, imagination and motor skills.
9. Matching lids to jars.
I inserted puree jars into a box and gave lids to the baby to put on the jars. The game can be used for late toddlers as well, if you paint the lids with colors to match the drawing. This activity develops motor skills, sensory processing and color recognition. The free printable is available here: Printable for lids and jars project
10. Matching toys to pictures of toys
This activity requires some prep time. You need to take pictures of some toys and have them printed in advance. There are a few games you can play with these pictures later. The simplest one is to ask the toddler to match the picture to a toy. You can learn the names of the animals like that. You can show the picture of the toy and ask your toddler to bring it to you. Another option, for older toddlers, is to put the toys in a bag, show the picture to your child and ask him to find this toy without looking in a bag. Developing sensory processing and exploration skills, language and communication.
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