Toddler activities made simple
Why toddler activities?
As our babies turn into toddlers, we begin to feel the pressure to provide toddler activities for entertainment or educational experiences. As an Early Years teacher, I encounter many parents who have their child enrolled in a selection of extracurricular activities to enrich and extend their learning. The good news is that toddler activities don’t need to reflect a Pinterest board or cost the earth. They can be simple, messy, incidental and require limited resources. Simple play provides opportunities for oral language development and oral language is essential to Literacy development. Play is educational!
I ran a toddler activity morning for my mums group kids. I wanted to show my friends how setting up simple activities for learning can lead to hours of engagement. Let’s face it, a chance to watch the kids play independently while us mummies drink coffee and eat cake uninterrupted is appealing!
Giving choice of toddler activities….
Keeping in mind the interests of each of the children attending, I set up a range of toddler activities. To begin with , I focused on resources I already had and organised each activity on mats and in different areas in my yard. We gave the children the choice to move freely around the activities, which resulted in three hours of engagement (heaven for us!).
One of the simplest toddler activities from the day was a tub filled with sand, water and sea creatures. Getting wet and manoeuvring the creatures through the water was a highlight. This activity allowed incidental opportunities for discussion about the sea creatures, including their features and links to previous experiences i.e. “remember when we saw the crab at the beach?” Making connections between play and real-world experiences is valuable to learning.
The most popular toddler activity was the farm animal station. The children were encouraged to play in the dirt with farm animals. Sticks, rocks and boxes were also provided, with ‘bathing’ station for the animals set up. This activity really encouraged the children’s use of their imagination and ability to interact with each other.
Fine motor skills were developed at the play-dough station. Various items were provided to create a ‘creature’; hence, the children to added eyes, arms and hair. Imaginations ran wild and the children were deep in conversation. Other creations were also made, including birthday cakes which had the children joining in singing ‘Happy Birthday’ together.
A range of skills…
Gross motor development is also important; therefore, a variety of balls were provided. It was up to the children to initiate their own game. They passed balls back and forth between each other demonstrating the ability to use the social skills of turn taking and sharing.
The car mat and cars were a popular choice between the boys and girls. For instance, the children used boxes and tubes to create tunnels and buildings.
With a little planning and by making do with the resources you already have, it’s not difficult to set up activities that engage toddlers. Finally, they don’t always need YOU to entertain them. Toddlers can entertain themselves when given the chance!
By Emily -Mum & Early Childhood teacher