Thursday, July 14, 2011

Free Fun at One!

Your little one is growing into a toddler and the days of saying "my baby" are turning into "my toddler". Now that your baby...I mean TODDLER is a little more grown up there are lots of things that you can do as a family or as a Mommy-toddler date! So what types of activities are good for your little one to keep his/her interest plus help them grow creatively, intellectually or physically? I  have created a list of activities perfect for you and your little one.

Create Art
This is not only fun for both of you guys, but also helps them learn colors, shapes, and hand-eye coordination.
Coloring With Shapes-I like taking a black marker and drawing three big shapes in the middle of a piece of computer paper. I explain to my son what each of the shapes are and then let him color them. I got him the fat Crayola crayons for him to color with and he loves them! It is good to limit the choice of colors to three or four. I have found that if he is offered too many colors its a little overwhelming and there is more time spent looking at all the different choices than actually coloring.
Fingerpainting-Take a deep breath, grab a table cloth, a paint smock (and maybe a few hundred wipes) and remember that children are washable! Crayola and other brands make wonderful non-toxic finger paints for your toddler to have fun with. You can trace their hands with a black marker and them let them paint. Fingerpainting is lots of fun for the little ones, and it is easy because they do not have to hold anything in their hands like they do when they color with crayons. This piece of artwork will make a wonderful gift for Daddy or Grandma!

Building Together
Whether your little one is Ms. Organized or Mr. Destructo your little one will enjoy building with you! Get some Mega Block (they are like really big Legos) or some wooden blocks and sit on the floor with your little one and have fun! Some toddlers like to help build/stack the blocks, others love to knock the blocks down while others like to put them away and take them back out. Any way your little one likes to play is great! It is helping him/her learn hand eye coordination and cause and effect. Let your little one lead the play time, and make sure when it is time to stop building, you make sure your little one helps you clean the blocks up.

Homemade Obstacle Course 
fill the room with pillows, rolled up blankets, stuffed animals, hula hoops and anything else you can think of that your little one can step over, climb over, crawl through etc. My son loves climbing over and through stuff and this is a great way to do it in a safe, controlled environment (instead of climbing up the TV stand) This is also a great way for your little toddler to build up muscles that he/she may not use very often, and (of course) helps with hand-eye coordination (actually all types of coordination!)

The Floating Game
Get a kiddie pool and fill it with water in your back yard. Grab some random household items (some that will float and some that will sink) Let your little one drop each item into the pool and watch what happens together. Tell him/her what happened to each item. Did it float or sink? Do each item again. Did it float or sink this time? This is so much fun because it involves water, but also helps your little one learn about water (and the concepts of sinking and floating of course!) Great items to use are: a cup, a plastic toy, clothespin, a rock, a ball, a big coin, or a diving stick.

ABC Magnets
My son is fascinated with magnets and how they work. So I went to the dollar store and bought a set of magnet letters and we play with them together on the fridge or the side of the bathtub. Grab some ABC magnets and have some fun learning letters and how they sound, and maybe even some words. Make sure and tell your little one what each of the letters are and what sound it makes. When my son has a letter in his hand I say something like, "What letter do you have? Is that a D? A D makes a DUH-DUH sound, can you make the DUH sound?" He almost never does make the sound, but I know he is listening. Playing with ABC magnets not only makes for fun mommy-toddler time, but it also helps with learning their ABC's and learning about magnets! 

House Tent
Who did not build a fort or a tent out of the couch cushions and blankets when they were little? Just because your little one cannot build an inside fort by himself/herself does not mean your little one will not enjoy it! Grab some cushions, blankets, pillows and think back to your childhood tents and have fun! Have your little one help (as much as they can) in building your tent/fort. When it is all completed grab a flashlight and maybe a snack. Have your afternoon snack inside the tent, or play your favorite game together. When you get done playing in your tent/fort make sure and have your little one help you put things away. This helps your little one learn that things must be put back where they go when we are finished using them and that Mommy or Daddy are not going to do it for them all the time. 

Toddle Size Walk
Whether your little one is taking off on his/her own, or still holds on to your finger to walk, go outside and take a walk. No, actually take a walk where you BOTH walk. Grab your little one's hand and walk to the corner, or just past the next house and back. This encourages your almost walker to take the next step on her own. It is also a great way to break up a boring afternoon (especially with a cranky little one) It is quick and easy, and your toddler will enjoy the difference in scenery.

Library Story Time
Call or get online to check out the calendar of your favorite public library for events for your little one. Most have story times and other fun educational activities (puppets, skits, etc.) around once a week for you and your little one to participate in. This great for your toddler to be around other kids for social interaction and just to get out of the house (for the both of you!) and it is normally free. And even though we read to our little ones, it is always great for them to hear stories from other grown ups too! This really reinforces to our toddlers how important reading is!

Pet Store Fun
My son and I were out running errands one day and we had some time to kill before heading home. He was getting a little fussy and bored (and so was I) There was a pet store nearby and I decided to kill some time in there. Best decision of the day! Toddlers love pet stores. My son and I walked around and looked at all the reptiles first. I told him about the snakes, frogs and turtles. We looked at the birds next. He loved the birds because of their bright colors and they moved a lot. He kept pointing at different ones. I would tell him what each kind of bird was called as he pointed to them. We then moved to the fish section which was probably our favorite. He was fascinated by the little creatures that lived under the water. Again, as he pointed to each fish I would tell him what it was called. Pet stores are great for learning about animals, where they live and what noises they make. When looking at the animals, make sure and tell your toddler what they are called and what noise they make. Then try and see if your toddler can imitate the noise! Fun Fun! 

Go People Watching
Grab the stroller and maybe a snack for the both of you and head out to a mall or somewhere you two can watch people. My son loves to just watch people and things, and loves to point out things he finds interesting. Tell your little one about the people passing by and the stores near where you are sitting, stuff like, "That man is taller than Daddy!" "Did you see that baby?" "Look! That boy has a cookie! Do you like cookies?" My husband and I used to go get pretzels at the mall (there are always interesting characters at the mall) and just sit and watch people. So I guess I should not be surprised that our son loves to also. 

I hope you have found these activities fun and helpful! I love doing activities with my son that are not only fun, but educational. These activities are mainly things that my son and I love to do together. My mother gave me a great book that is full of age appropriate activities for any age group. It breaks it up by age and has literally thousands of things to do with your little one no matter their age! I do not think very many, if any of my activities are in this book (I tried to include ones that are not in the book) It is called Gymboree Play and Learn and I have attached a link to more information about the book (just click on the title!) Happy playing and as always, God bless you and your family!

Until the Whole World Hears,
Katie website

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