Sunday, August 23, 2009
From the time they open their eyes in the morning until that last yawn of the day, toddlers are on a mission to explore. This leads to their reputation for “getting into things”.
Four ideas to keep them busy:
1. Twist On, Twist Off
Build a collection of different types of containers with screw-on tops like the ones below:
Not pictured, but perfect for little hands are empty plastic spice containers.
With lids secured loosely, let your child explore it a bit and then show her how to use her hand to twist it off. Start with two different types and gradually add more over time. Then add toys or balls to the closed containers to add interest (ping pong balls pictured work well in spice jars, but are still considered a choking hazard for young children. Please do not leave child unattended or only use balls at least 2” in diameter).
Keep your bottle collection in a small zippered duffle-type bag or men’s toiletry bag, and you’ve given your child another fine motor task to master.
2. Hinged Containers
Toddlers love to open and close hinged containers and fill and dump with small toys.
Check Grandma’s house for older tin versions of Bandaid containers (last year Walmart had special anniversary versions for sale,) or maybe you have some novelty types like those below. Bandaid brand also has a new plastic tough-type container.
Baby wipe containers that open and shut in a hinged fashion are also fun. For fine motor finger skills, try adding wash cloths for your child to pull out and stuff back in.
Note: Look for signs that your child is ready for these types of activities. If he is engaged and excited, it's the right level. If he finds any of it frustrating or loses interest, try again in another week. As you know, week to week children grow and develop by leaps and bounds.
3. Indoor “Sand” Box
-Plastic Measuring Cups and Spoons
-Plastic Funnel (optional)
-Large plastic storage container (at least 18”L x 12”W x 5”H)
-Your choice of filler (this will depend on your child’s age and whether he/she still puts things in his mouth):
(safe if ingested but do not use outdoors as rice is not safe when eaten by birds)
(best for older toddlers/preschoolers as creative little ones might try to stuff one where it doesn’t belong – nose or ears)
---Dried Pasta (small shapes)
(this is a terrific green option as once it has outlived it’s play life, it can be used to feed the birds. If used outside, bird seed will not harm any wildlife if it falls to the ground – just remember that you might get a few plant sprouts wherever it drops on the soil).
4. Traditional Toys
If you haven’t introduced these yet, it’s a perfect time for:
-Wooden Puzzles with Pegged Handles
-Simple Shape Sorters (start with only circles and squares to lessen frustration)
-Blocks of Any Type
(create your own stackables using empty cereal/formula canisters or boxes)
Easy Homemade Blocks
Photo Credit: Adrian Lee, Canada