Engage your child in learning activities even while he is a toddler. It will aid his cognitive development. And, if you can bring in some fun to the learning, your child will certainly enjoy it.
By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj
As parents of toddlers, you would know how difficult it is to keep those tiny bundles of energy engaged and focussed. Therefore, learning activities for the little ones may feature last on your mind. However, here are some super fun learning activities that will surely excite your precious little one. As you help her learn some important concepts through these fun tasks, you can also bond with her.
1. The ‘pull out’ game: Fill a transparent jar with small attractive objects of any one type such as candies, animal-shaped biscuits, colourful moulded erasers or tiny balls. Pull out one piece, let’s say one candy, and call out, ‘One’. Encourage your child to say after you. Keep increasing the number of candies you pull out and call out that number. Do this exercise several times. Then, follow it up with calling out the number alone and asking your tiny tot to pull out that many candies from the jar.
2. ‘Colour, colour, what colour?’: Fill a basket with handkerchiefs or shawls of different colours. Play a game of peek-a-boo with your child. Choose a handkerchief of a particular colour, say red, and close your face with it. Say aloud, “Colour, colour, what colour? Where’s mama/papa?” Then say, “Behind Red” and pull away the handkerchief from your face. Wave it to your child and ask her to say, ‘Red’ several times. Do this with handkerchiefs of different colours. Then, swap roles and let your child pick the handkerchief and do the peek-a-book act with you as you say aloud the colour, and she repeats it. Finally, mention the colour and ask your child to fetch the handkerchief of that colour from the basket.
3. ‘Let’s go to A’: Using a piece of chalk, draw two rows of 13 squares each on the floor. Write one letter of the alphabet in each square beginning from A - Z. Get your spouse or an older child to play some music. Keep walking around the squares with your little one. Once the music stops, hold your little one’s hand and run to the square which has the letter A saying aloud, ‘Let’s go to A’. When the music plays again, resume walking with your child. Continue this by going to each letter when the music stops, calling out that letter. Begin by doing it in the alphabetical order. Then mix up the order. For example, you can run to D first, then to J, and so on. This way, your child will get familiar with the letters. Finally, step away from the squares and encourage your little one to run to each letter by himself as you call out the letters.
4. Noah’s Ark: Place toy animals and birds inside an empty carton on the floor. Set up a rectangular plastic container as the Ark on the table. Pick up one animal at a time, call out its name and tell your little one, “Come, let’s take the …….. (name of animal/bird) to Noah’s Ark.” Then, together with your child, take that toy animal from the carton and place it inside the plastic container. As you place it, say, “There goes ……. (name of animal/bird) into Noah’s Ark. Do this until all the toy animals are safe in the Ark. Each time, encourage your child to say aloud the name of the animal. You can begin again by calling out the name of the animal to your child and asking her to take it to the Ark.
5. ‘Teddy wants a balloon’: Blow some balloons tying up the ends with long strings and place them on the floor. Make sure that half the balloons are big and half of them are small. Take two Teddy bears, one big and one small. Place the big Teddy on a big chair and the small Teddy on a small chair. Then, call out, “Big Teddy wants a big balloon. Shall we give him one?” Along with your child, pick up a big balloon saying, ‘big’ and tie the string to the big Teddy’s chair. Then, call out, “Small Teddy wants a small balloon. Shall we give him one?” This time, pick up a small balloon saying, ‘small’ and tie its string to the small Teddy’s chair. Do this a few times. Then, ask your child to pick up the balloons as you say, “Big/small Teddy wants a big/small balloon. Can you give him one?” Repeat this exercise until you have tied all the balloons to the chairs.
6. Treasure hunt: A simple game of treasure hunt can help in learning the names of objects around the house. Hide slips of paper with simple clues in various places around the house. Let the clues lead to your child’s favourite toy, book, etc. Together with your child, begin with the first clue and keep moving on till the end until you find your tiny tot’s treasure. The key learning in this game will be calling out the names of objects where each clue is hidden. For example, “Oh, here’s the second clue… inside the jar. Come on, say ‘jar’. See, this is the jar.” Do this as you proceed from one clue to the next. In no time, your child will have many words in his vocabulary kit.
7. Family tree: Draw a flow-chart like a family tree on chart paper and hang it on the wall, as close to the floor as possible so that your little one can reach it. On a box next to it place the photographs of all family members – you, your spouse, your children, both your and your spouse’s parents, and both your and your spouse’s siblings. Stick the rough parts of the Velcro on the chart paper in relevant places on the family tree. Stick the smooth parts behind each photograph. As you stick each photo on the family tree, explain to your child the relationship – ‘Mama’s Mama’, ‘Papa’s Papa’, ‘Mama’s sister’, etc. Once the tree is complete reinforce the relationships to the child by mentioning each person’s name and pointing to the picture. After several reinforcements, remove all the photographs and place them in the box. Then, ask your child to pick the photograph of each person as you mention the name. Stick it on the family tree. Don’t worry if there are some goof-ups at first. With time and practice, your child will learn the concept of relationships.
Happy learning for your toddler!
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Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj