Learning Activities for Your Toddler

With so much to see, do and experience, there’s something to be learnt everywhere you go. Try these activities to get your toddler learning and more.

WORDS SUE-ANN BAUMGÄRTEL

The world around them – from a trip to the supermarket or the taste sensation of a new ice cream flavour – is like a giant classroom, filled with new experiences and skills to learn. But like any classroom, it can also be filled with frustration and uncertainty. Instinctively, toddlers will learn to adapt to their surroundings. They adapt through positive and negative experiences, through mimicry and observation, and through repetition. As parents, we can help them to focus this instinct while having fun at the same time. With some adult supervision, and a blind eye cast towards the inevitable mess that comes from having fun, here are some ideas to learn through the eyes of your toddler.

Two Left Feet?
It must be hard to coordinate all that energy when you are not even three feet tall.

  • Build an obstacle course. Make a trail around your living room or terrace with different objects. The more varied, the better. You could include cushions, stools, upturned pots, a broom balanced across two chairs – use your imagination! Even a ball of wool wound around furniture can turn the room into a Mission Impossible situation – your child has to avoid touching the string. Help your child navigate this course barefoot, with socks, in flip-flops, in rubber boots, or even in your oversized Crocs, and have a laugh with him.
  • Playing catch must be the simplest way to develop co-ordination. Think beyond the normal tennis ball, and play catch using different materials – a balloon, then a balloon filled with water or dried beans, a rolled-up pair of socks, a crumpled up ball of newspaper – anything that has a soft landing. Encourage your child to throw gently.
  • Balloon Badminton – your child will love playing badminton with these oversized “shuttlecocks”.
  • Even if you are not cooking spaghetti bolognese, a packet of spaghetti and a large colander will keep your child busy for a good while. Let her thread the dried spaghetti through the holes.

 

Let’s Sort it Out!

  • The cardboard box is your best friend. Depending on your child’s age, find a box that is suitable for his height and cut out several holes from the bottom of the box. Now you can design this game to suit what you are trying to teach your child. Colour each hole with a different colour and get your child to sort out different objects of the same colour. This idea can apply to sorting out numbers, letters, fruit or vegetables; the list is endless. Your child has to sort out the objects by dropping them in the right hole. Make sure the holes are clearly defined by a colour, or a picture so that your child can recognise it.
  • This idea of sorting can be developed with many other everyday items. Paint each row of an empty egg carton in different colours. Then paint small items – dried beans, pebbles – in the corresponding colours and let your child match them together. You can tailor this game to suit your child’s age and knowledge. Even a row of three paper bags with a picture of a cat, dog and horse stuck on the front, can be turned into a fun activity. Let your child put matching animal figures into each bag.

 

It’s Cold! And Wet!

  • Sensory play is so important for young children. Set up an area for these activities, such as a bathtub, shower area or the garden, where mess can be contained and cleared up easily. Let your child play with different foods – spaghetti cooked in coloured water, jelly, yoghurt, ice cubes – and enjoy their reactions.
  • Prepare a selection of foods with different tastes – a slice of lemon, a potato chip, jelly or a strawberry. Ask your child to close their eyes and taste it. They can then taste the food again, this time holding their noses at the same time. Definitely one for adventurous eaters!

 

Role-play
One of the most challenging aspects of parenting is teaching young children the importance of social behaviour. Even if your child is used to other children, the key to providing your child with social confidence is the constant repetition of what is expected. This is when role-play can make social situations more manageable for younger children.

  • Set up a table with a theme in mind. This could be Tea with the Queen or Lunch with Pirates. How would we behave in each setting? Exaggerate the importance of royal manners, or how pirates might enjoy friendly banter.     
  • Take an imaginary journey. Set two small chairs side by side, and let your toddler drive your somewhere. Make up exotic destinations together and encourage your child to describe their imaginary surroundings.  
  • Be a tourist in your own country. Spend an afternoon on the Hop on Hop Off tourist bus, and enjoy the sights of Singapore together.


 

Thanks for sharing!