Ready for the challenge?
The following are examples of play way activities which you can offer your toddler at home. Each activity has values to promote your toddler’s cognitive skills. Do replenish them or keep changing them around to give your child a variety as well as advancing levels of activities. All the activities represent differential aspects of cognition and are hand -picked to give you a variety and choices. All are child friendly and easy to be given at home. Occasionally, you can also involve other toddlers for company, or older siblings for help and other inputs such as help in making more play activities.
Only major values of the said activities are covered to give you a select view. Remember we are not going to open a play school for your toddler!
Blocks come in various sizes, shapes and colours. Choose light weight blocks in 2 to 3 colours. Blocks should also be safe to handle, for your toddler. You can buy them in stores or make some blocks yourself, using boxes and cartons.
Utilities of block play for your toddler
@. Bigger blocks can be stacked easily.
@. Smaller, interlocking blocks provide minimum frustration of falling apart when assembling them.
@. Blocks made from cartons and boxes, can be painted in primary colours, or covered with attractive paper. They are a good substitute for the blocks bought from shops and very safe to maneuver.
Examples of cognitive skills promoted through block play :
@. builds, toddlers’ spatial awareness when building structures.
@. promotes the learning of cause and effect relationship e.g. a tall structure falls when you push it.
@ helps toddler learn to be intentional with actions of block placements.
@ promotes, concepts of size such as big and small.
@. Learns to match and verbalize few names of colours or one or two shapes of blocks.
@. Gets opportunities to solve problems and be creative when building structures.
@. Learns to organize/ assemble, when same coloured blocks, or patterns of blocks are placed in groups, lines or stacks.
Puzzles can be ready made and bought from stores. The puzzle as a whole, should have big uncluttered pictures, as too many details will confuse your toddler. The individual puzzle should have large and clean cut contours, to make it easier for your toddler to assemble the puzzle.
You can make puzzles from recycled calendars, books and magazines having large and simple pictures, which are pasted on cardboards .Each cardboard picture is then cut into 2 or 3 pieces, and put together as a puzzle.
In the beginning, give one puzzle at a time, as the attention span of your toddler is short. Once he masters the technique of putting together a puzzle, give him more puzzles at one time, to assemble.
Examples of cognitive skills promoted through puzzles are:
-puzzles encourage attending behaviours as toddlers look for details in a picture
– word association to picture is promoted when the toddler names the title or character/s/object/s in the picture.
– spatial skills are built in your toddler when matching puzzles depicting shapes, are matched with corresponding slots ,on the base of the puzzle board.
– Skills in matching, recognition and naming objects are promoted when you provide toddlers with simple puzzles.
Store individual puzzles in their individual bags/ covers. You will:
– promote self- help behaviours in your toddler when he carries or works with them, independently, but with your supervision.
– not hunt desperately for lost pieces, as they will all lay together in the bag itself.
– avoid a big mix up of all the puzzle pieces, from different puzzles. It is just a waste of time to unravel the mystery! Just store the individual puzzle board and pieces in their respective bag.
– and, save time if you don’t have to put all the pieces back in the respective slots of individual puzzles.
Toddlers love books because of the colourful pictures and absorbing stories .Adults need to select big sized books with large colourful pictures and simple stories of familial characters doing everyday things – be it humans or animals.
Let us find out how to use the books in the most fruitful manner for promoting cognitive skills of toddlers.
Examples of values of book reading:
@. picture reading stories promote attending and questioning skills.
@. listening to stories promotes the ability to anticipate the order and sequence in a story.
@. repeated listening to the same story, promotes memory and reproduction skills when your toddler remembers and, recalls the characters, significant objects and rhyme, from the story.
@. reading books to your toddler on a regular basis helps him to pick up early literacy and language skills.
@. other skills promoted in the cognitive area, are:
– eye recognition of picture details
– correct enunciation of vowels and consonants, and,
– word association with a picture – a precursor to naming objects.
Few hints to make home- made books
@ Home made books can be prepared out of recycled storybooks, magazines and other such materials, as additional resource for children. You can make your own reading material to be read out to your toddler, as follows:
– paste big, uncluttered pictures (with familiar objects) on single sheets and stick them together as a book. Each picture can be talked about/discussed , by leafing through the book.
– make theme based books by pasting pictures from recycled books.
– make viewing cards (big and small) on themes, classifications, stories or, routine home situations, from recycled pictures or by drawing the simple ones.
– or, put up a display board with large pictures to be looked at, in your toddler’s room at his eye level.
The pictures can be changed from time to time.
Open ended toys and activities
Parents can promote many cognitive skills of their toddlers by using recycled toys, books and play materials, with a little bit of imagination and creativity. Toys and activities can be constructed at home for multi- purpose use :
1) boxes can be converted from blocks into receptacles for classification of shapes or sizes by your toddler.
2).salty play dough (coloured with food colours ) can be made into symbolic figures and stringing beads. Making these constructions will promote a toddler’s creativity.
3) systematic classification of the beads by shape, size or colour will promote the organizational ability of your toddler.
4)guided play with water (coloured with food colours) and accessories such as small rubber and solid toys, paper, etc., will help your toddler learn concepts such as sinking, floating, dry, wet and so on, which in turn will promote a scientific temperament, based on your toddler’s questioning abilities and discovery, by interactive play with the parent.
These are examples of play with some of the materials available at home. Once you get the hang of using the materials meaningfully, try to supplement your toddler’s play materials with additional resources of home -made materials.
Remember to visit the neighbourhood daycare centre or preschool/local art centre/ Child development or Art teacher, for help in devising the play materials when you find it difficult to make progress or need any help.