Engaging Your Infant or Toddler in Learning Activities at Home
Friday, April 10, 2020
You’ll be spending more time at home! To ward off boredom, use a strategy teachers use: rotate your toys. Rather than having available every toy your child owns, store some away for a week or two, then switch them out. Especially for infants and young toddlers, you will be providing a new toy to them in two weeks. Another variation on this: introduce one “new” material each day or two.
Sensory experiences are infant and toddler math and science! Together with you, your child will explore the properties of materials, learn about “more” and “less,” “heavy” and “light,” “full” and “empty.” He or she, with your modeling, with learn to make observations and possibly predictions (“What do you think will happen if ___.”) Your child can learn about “making a plan.” (“I wonder what you could do with these.”) Sensory experiences are soothing and relaxing, as well!
WATER: Provide a dishpan (or a cake pan, or a pie plate) of water on a table top (large towel underneath!) Add dish soap or food color, for a variation. Provide small scoops and cups (Clean-up is easier with smaller amounts of water and smaller containers, and smaller does not minimize the fun or the learning potential!); whisks; small washcloths or sponges with items to wash. (Vary the tools each day, only a few at a time.)
BUBBLES: Mix bubble solution together. Make bubbles with slotted spoons or whisks.
Homemade Bubble Solution
Dawn Dishwashing and water – about a 1:1 ratio. Experiment to achieve the strength ideal for you. (More soap makes stronger bubbles but more mess and more soap, potentially, in child’s mouth!) You can add food color, as well!
(If you have it, a tablespoon of glycerin – or some recipes recommend light karo syrup or table sugar – can strengthen the bubbles, making larger bubbles possible.)
PLAY DOUGH: Toddlers will enjoy exploring the play dough when it is still warm! Provide objects to stick into the play dough (straws; utensils; cookie cutters, if you have them). Provide small cups or other containers to put dough into. Provide objects for flattening or printing (saucer, small cutting board, fork). Vary the tools each day!
•1 cup water
•1 cup flour
•½ cup salt
•1 Tbsp. cream of tartar
•2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
•Food color (optional)
1.Combine all ingredients in a large pot and stir until mixed.
2. Cook the dough over low heat, stirring continuously.
3. Keep cooking until the edges of the dough appear dry. Test by pinching a piece of dough; if it’s not gooey, the dough is ready.
4. Remove dough from pot, and let it cool for a minute. Then knead it until it’s smooth.
5. Store in airtight container or zippered bag when not in use.
Mix cornstarch with enough water to make a pliable wet substance. The mixture hold its shape when with hands, but “melts” when hands are still.
Engage your toddler in sorting
Toddlers can be encouraged to sort their stuffed animals by species, by color, by size. They can sort/match socks in the laundry. They can sort lids; canned goods; kitchen utensils; spools of thread or skeins of yarn, if you have those in the home. Sorting and classifying are math concepts!
Drop a bead; a few tablespoons of rice; a few tablespoons of dry pasta; or a few coins into a sealed container (Because of choking hazard, seal in a fool-proof way, or provide only when the child is supervised.) Top on plastic food containers or metal pans with wooden spoons. Dance to the rhythms you create! You and your child together will explore rhythm and sound and connect through imitating each other and moving together.
Activity Baskets or Bags
Provide baskets (or for a little bit of mystery, a drawstring bag or pillowcase) of related household items that your infant or toddler may not ordinarily have the opportunity to explore.
Kitchen items: variety of utensils and tools
Office items: large paperclips, hole punch, junk mail, post it notes, etc.
Bathroom items: small travel containers, sponges, loofahs, etc.
Shiny items: what in your house is shiny (and safe)?
Brushes: toothbrush, variety sizes hair brushes, vegetable brush, scrub brush
Textures: yarn, felt, varieties of fabric, wicker, etc.