Thursday, December 24, 2015

11 fun way to teach your toddlers (and keep them busy) :

Once your tot is talking away, it's easier to figure out what they know and what they have learned in the year and a half or more that you have been having one sided conversations. This is also the time when they begin to imitate us and tuck away information to surprise us with later.

I've been having all sorts of fun, now that my son is (finally) jabbering away, and when I can understand him it always amazes me.

Since I know how hard it is to constantly come up with new ways to entertain, and to entertain educationally while resisting the urge to prop your baby in front of the iPad, here is a list of some of the different ways our kids can and do enjoying being taught. Hopefully this will be particularly useful during the holidays!

11 Fun ways to teach your tots: 

1. With stickers:
Stickers are a great way for them to learn body parts and even to see what they know by making them stick little things in different places around the room, on themselves or even on you! Buy inexpensive, and plain ones unless you are planning to use them to decorate something because your tot is going to want to go through the whole packet in seconds.
Learning body parts with stickers

2. With puzzles and blocks:
Puzzles are a great way to teach fine motor skills, they learn to turn move and maneuver objects which comes in handy when they want to open and close things and even feed themselves. This includes, blocks and shape sorters that can also help them learn about colors, and hone their gross motor skills.

3. With crayons:
My little one loves it when I draw objects for him and ask him to guess what they are, he also often demands that I draw things he likes - some like a car and mickey mouse are attainable, others like relatives and objects of his imagination... oh well, Do your best with this one!
Like puzzles, crayons are a great way to teach colors, concepts and shapes.

4. With songs:
We have a song for pretty much everything, and can also adapted songs to teach most things. Did you know that the wheels on the bus in my house has cars that go vroom, tigers that go roar, snakes that hiss, and aeroplanes that go zoooom, riding on it?

5. With magnets:
Magnets can teach them more than just how to join things together and about attraction and repulsion (for the older kids), cute animal magnets, or magnetic fishing boards (Melissa and Doug has some super ones), are great ways to keep them busy entertained and learning for longer than their usual 3 minute attention span can usually handle.

6. With textures:
Some kids (like mine), are really fussy when exposed to different textures but it opens them up to new experiences when they are able to accept different textures in food, on their feet and in their hands.
Textures to experiment with: jell-o, flour, playdoh, blubber, sticky foam, sand, water, slime, cotton, non-toxic glue, fingerpaints and silly putty.

7. Show and tell:
A trip to the grocery store can teach my son more than anything I show him on tv or blabber on about. It's great to take them out and have them identify things and even pick their own fruits and vegetables - it definitely helps if they are securely seated in the shopping cart. So don't shy away from strapping your baby on and taking them with you when you run errands - provided you can fit in the extra time it's going to take.

8. Age old: Books
Rhymes and books like "Baby Bear, baby bear what do you see?," or "Hungry Caterpillar" are great at holding your children's attention (as are all the Boynton books), but there are many where the pictures will grab their attention more than the story (anything with more than 10 words on a page will have you losing your already distracted toddler). That doesn't mean you need to stay away from it - just make the pictures fun, tell them what they are looking at, make noises and build your own little story around it that will stay with your child for a while and build their imagination ( as well as your own).

Barnes and Nobles recommendations for children aged 0-3
9. Photographs:
Not the digital kind which will make your child scream for your iphone and find his or her way onto youtube, but actual hard copy photographs and albums are great for teaching your children about all the people who are or should be important in their lives. Also, a great way to test and hone their memory.

10. By doing:
There's nothing your child enjoys more than.. YOU! And that means they are watching everything you say or do. Once they are talking and imitating you will realize just how much they have grasped. So let them watch you brush your teeth, make your hair, read the newspaper (and hardcopy books!), and do all the things you want them to learn to do.

11. Through experience!
There's no greater teacher than experience, this includes holidays, picnics, trips to the pool, the beach, the outdoors - basically, all the things that require a larger effort from us as parents, but are actually worth it because whether your child is too young to remember or old enough to build lasting memories, they are learning from everything they see, touch and are told stories about by their dedicated parents.

Learning about Bears at the Central Park Zoo, New York

Happy Holidays, readers - wherever you are, hope you have a great 2016. (From what I gather, it can't be much worse than 2015 for most).
I'll be back in the new year.
More to come!

P.S. For those who are not following along on instagram yet, please do @mommydiaries. 

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