From the moment your baby is born, they are already beginning to learn. They learn that when they cry, you will come and tend to their needs, just as they learn your facial cues. Of course, as your little one continues to grow, their learning needs change and so do their activities.
Suddenly you’ll notice that your growing baby isn’t content to just sit, but is moving everywhere and wants to touch everything. This isn’t because they are little troublemakers. Rather, they are following an innate instinct to learn.
Of course, you can find plenty of fancy toys on the market that promise to provide your child with fun and learning at the same time. Most parents don’t know that they might not need these toys to accomplish the same goals. In fact, you can use your everyday household items to provide your toddler with fun activities that also help them learn and develop.
Learning Through Discovery
Simply playing with your toddler is a great way to help them learn. In addition to knowing the essentials like shapes, sizes, colors, and how to sort, they will also practice their fine and gross motor skills.
For example, you might give them several different containers, and place different-colored pom poms in each. As they pick them up and move them with their fingers, they are practicing fine motor skills. As they move containers around or attempt to kick a ball, they are using their gross motor skills. Both fine and gross skills are crucial to your child’s development!
Place scraps of fabric in an old baby wipe container and then hand your child the container. They will have to figure out how to open it in order to find the special treasure. Once they have it figured out, kids love opening and closing things. It can be a fun repetition game of putting all the fabric in the box, and taking them out. This is a great practice of fine motor skills!
Another activity to try with your 18-month-old is to give your child a few pots turned upside-down along with a wooden spoon. Your little one will find a great deal of entertainment as they pound and make noise. At the same time, they will hear different sounds as different-sized pots each make their own unique sound. He may not make the connection right away but it will be fun making a variety of noises.
Make a race track by placing lines of masking tape on the carpet. You can create a variety of tracks for your toddler. They can be creative and have as much fun as they want, and when they are done simply peel it off your floor. This minimalist type of play builds their imagination more than a perfectly created train or race track could.
Looking for more activities and distractions at this age? Another fun activity is with plastic cups. Even without any other item, they can work on stacking and building towers. Of course, don’t be surprised when they have the most fun knocking them down. This a-ha moment is actually a great way to teach them cause and effect.
Colorful Water Pouring (3-Year-Olds)
If you don’t mind a little water, consider doing this activity either in your bathroom or kitchen. Fill plastic cups 1/2 full and add food coloring to each cup. Now place an empty bowl nearby, and invite your toddler to pour two different colors into the bowl.
Toddlers naturally enjoy playing with water, but this activity adds a new component. It allows your little one to begin mixing colors and seeing what happens. Here are some color combinations you can make with the primary colors: red + green = orange. Yellow + blue = orange. Blue + red = violet.
A great oral motor activity to try at home is to make bubble paint hydrangeas. To make these pretty little things, mix 1 part nontoxic paint, 1 part dish soap and 2 parts water in a shallow dish. Hold a straw in the dish and blow bubbles. If you’re worried your toddler won’t be able to blow (without sucking up some of the paint water), you can blow the bubbles!
Once a big clump of bubbles forms, place a piece of cardstock or thick paper over the bubbles. Let dry and paint on leaves and stems if you’d like!
These are only a few examples of the many activities your toddlers can do at home without major effort. They contribute to your child’s development and learning without the cost of buying something at the toy store.
Most parents have experienced that moment when a child opens a box with a really nice toy, and then prefers to play with the box instead of the toy. That alone should give your confidence that everyday household items can be just as beneficial as expensive gadgets. Playing and pretending with your child is a great way to help them learn and grow. And hopefully, your little ones will have a great time playing at home and enjoying time with you.
Feature image: IG @manymessblessings