The AAP states that children 1-3 years old are all toddlers. Many others (including the National Association for the Education of Young Children) define toddlers as 18-36 months. Confusing huh? I follow the NAEYC definition when discussing toddlers. The reason for this is because developmentally a one year old is so very different than a 3 year old and therefore should not be categorized together when discussing their abilities.
Here’s a small break-down of toddlers:
- Toddlers love sorting objects by shape or color, and lining up objects in rows from smallest to largest. These are the precursors to learning mathematics.
- They begin to understand the purpose of numbers in counting objects.
- They are learning new words every day and become active participants in storytelling and reading books.
- They are becoming more socially aware and will start playing with other children, but not cooperatively yet.
- Because they are more socially aware, there is more conflict about what is mine and yours.
- They are more physically capable and better at balancing, throwing, catching, jumping, and kicking
- They start using more pretend play like using a block as a telephone, or pretending to be asleep, etc.
- They can begin drawing shapes in their artwork instead of random scribbling
- Toddlers begin to value their artwork
An example of a toddler’s drawing
Now is the time to start bringing in more of your ABCs and 123s into a child’s world. I know others who introduce them much earlier, but developmentally, this is the the age where they start really grasping those ideas.
Some fun activities for toddlers:
Stringing sponges from Children’s Learning Activities
Color Coded Parking lot from A Happy Wonderer
Homemade Highway from Children’s Learning Activities
Alphabet Fishing from No Time for Flashcards
These are just a few activities that I like. There are a TON more out there. Check out my Pinterest page for more or do a quick Google search.
Activity #5: Going on a Treasure Hunt
I LOVE doing treasure hunts with little ones!
Here’s what to do:
- Hide objects around the room for your child to find.
- Objects can be Easter eggs, snacks like cheerios, toy cars, pom pom balls, whatever you have around your house.
- Let the child go around and find and collect all the objects.
- Count out the objects with the child
- Discuss their features and how they are similar or different (colors, shapes, size)
For pre-toddlers and young toddlers: lay out objects in full view for the kiddo to pick up. They will probably need your direction and help along the way.
For older children: have them go find as many red things or blue things that they can. Or, find all the things that go (like cars), all the dolls, etc. You can even make a list of things that you hid and have them mark off the objects on the list as they find them.
This is a great outdoor activity, so take it outside too!
Tomorrow: Preschool Play (3-5 years)
I love doing treasure hunts. I can’t wait till spring when I can make treasure rocks and hide them for my kids outside.