Toddlers are so fun at this age! They really start to find their personalities and isms. It’s the age where dressing them up with boutique baby clothes, or create super fun hairstyles to match your favourite celebrities and stars. They are also at that age where learning becomes very rapid.
Toddlers’ minds are little sponges. They can literally be shown something once or twice (or even told something for that matter), and they can usually remember whatever it is. Sometimes, this can backfire (like the time you let loose a curse word when a car pulled out in front of you).
Regardless, if you have a toddler in your home, it’s important that you offer them plenty of brain-boosting challenges that keep them busy. Keep things simple and cheap, but taking on a DIY approach.
Here are 5 brain-boosting activities that your toddler one will love
Create Sensory Bins
Hit up your local dollar store and pick up some plastic bins with lids. Fill each bin with objects that are full of various textures. One bin can contain feathers or pom-poms. Another bin can contain beads of all shapes, sizes, and finishes. You can even fill it with items you have around your house, like uncooked pasta. Invite your toddler to go to town touching and manipulating these items. Consider placing spoons or measuring cups in each bin as well for added fun!
Chores, Chores, and More Chores
Your toddler is not too young to learn how to complete chores. The key is to make them feel like they’re helping, instead of working. Have your child help you unpack your groceries as you bring them in from the car. This is a great time to have a conversation about categorizing (dairy, meats, produce, etc.).
You can also make cleaning up toys more fun by playing a song that signals to do so, or you can time your child to see how fast they can clean up. They will love trying to beat their personal best record and in time, will not resist you when you ask them to pick up after themselves.
There are also a number of toys that are sold that revolve around cleaning-mini brooms, vacuums, dust pans, rakes-virtually anything. When you clean, ask your child to copy you! They will not only learn these important skills but will love spending time “helping” you get your work done.
Fill up a picnic basket with some of your child’s books. Find a nice, shady spot outdoors to roll out a blanket and enjoy reading the books together. Be sure to take the time out to pause, when appropriate, to have conversations about what is happening in the story. This will strengthen your child’s comprehension and vocabulary skills from a young age.
Construct a Fort
Great for a rainy day, grab every blanket and pillow you can find in your home. Choose a room, like your living room or dining room that allows you to drape sheets and form a huge fort. Once your fort is built, line the floor with comfortable blankets and encourage your child to “camp out.” They can nap in there, read, play, and even break out the flashlights at night time. Get ultra-fancy and place some flameless, battery-powered flickering candles inside for instant light!
In fact, gather the whole family up and enjoy some snuggles and laughs under the fort before bedtime. You’ll have a very difficult time getting your room back after it’s all said and done, and fort building will become a favourite activity of your child.
Many parents shy away from STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) challenges because they feel it’s geared more toward older children, and not necessarily toddlers. Quite the contrary! You can utilize your child’s building blocks and help them master the design process. Start small and teach them about building a base and why it’s important. You can then challenge them to build a house, a castle, an animal-there are unlimited options.
The blocks can also be used for the math component of STEM by teaching your child about patterns, shapes of blocks, and even counting (and adding, for children who are showing readiness).
Once their creations are constructed, allow them some time to use their imagination. Be sure to model creative thinking, by thinking out loud. Some children are natural, creative thinkers while others need to be guided in the right direction.
You do not need a lot of money to spend quality time with your child or create fun and engaging activities. With a little patience, energy, and some easy to access materials around your home, you can ensure that your little learner is kept busy and happy!