Toddlers, like children and adults, learn in a variety of different ways. There are several different recognised styles of learning and these styles are used to inform teaching methods from very early childhood, right through to high school. The three most common are known as kinaesthetic (movement), auditory (listening) and visual (watching). For kinaesthetic learners, they often feel the need to tap a foot, fidget or play with something while absorbing information.
As children grow these learning styles become more apparent, but during the toddler years it is not yet clear what type of learner your child might be. In fact, as your child grows, they are likely to be a combination of all of them, with one possibly being more dominant than the others. Their ‘type’ will become more apparent the more they explore and discover the world around them. With this in mind, doing activities that appeal to all styles of learning is a great way to interact with your toddler while they develop.
Here are ten fun activities that you can do with your toddler, that appeal to these different learning styles. Each activity will help with cognitive and language development, and uses at least one or all of the different ways of learning.
1. Crafting letters
With a dark marker, in large print, write out letters of the alphabet. Provide textured items such as pasta, sea shells, pipe cleaners, cotton balls, glitter and help them decorate each letter. As they are working on each letter, say the letter out loud, talk about things that start with the letter, allow them to trace around the letter with their finger to get a feel for how the letter is formed. This is a fun activity which will help your child become familiar with the alphabet in a creative way.
2. Labelling household items
Choose a theme or zone for a month and make up fun colourful labels together, then stick them on the items. For example, using a kitchen theme, label cupboards, pantry, drawer, dishwasher, sink etc. Each day talk about kitchen items and where they belong, then ask your child to put the item in the right spot. While you are tidying up, cooking or putting away the dishes give your child one item at a time and play ‘find its home’. The next month you can move to the toy room, or bedroom. This activity helps your child understand the logic behind the ordering process and, if they are old enough, it will help them start to recognise letters (on the labels).
3. Map your town
Go for a walk with your toddler. Draw their attention to any buildings of note, such as the post office, supermarket or the library. Talk about them together and what happens at each place. When you get home, draw up a simple map detailing where you have been, get them to colour in the building, or draw a picture of Postman Pat in the right place on the map.
4. Different ways of measuring
Toddler years are a great time to have some fun with the concept of space and distance, without worrying about rulers and accuracy. Using everyday items as a way to measure is a fun way to introduce spacial awareness to your child. Measure their doll or teddy in lego pieces or building blocks – so their doll is five blocks tall. Collect some sticks in the park and lie down in the grass and get them to measure you in sticks: mummy/daddy is five sticks long.
You can use any items you like – toy cars, children books, saucepans or cutlery. Always count the items as you go.
5. Sing with your toddler
Identify songs for particular activities so you create an association. For example in the bath sing ‘Five Little Ducks’ – it incorporates counting, singing and bath time. Play a ‘Pack Up/Tidy Up’ song when it’s time to pack the toys away. Incorporating some dance movement into putting things away, turns it into a game. You can also incorporate traditional learning such as singing the ABC, or other counting songs, or days of the week songs in to your daily activities.
AptaNutrition Advisory team midwife
What Lexi says...
Toddler development is as much about getting out and exploring as it is about bonding and relationships. This article beautifully highlights the importance of getting out and experiencing it all – in person, not through a device. Providing a variety of options helps toddlers to decide who they want to become.
Devices have become increasingly popular and now, more than ever, it is important to step away from the screen. Toddlers want what you have purely because it is something new. Focusing on quality time talking, singing, and engaging will have a lifelong positive effect on their development.
It is important to recognise when your toddler needs more. Often parents can mistake tantrums as bad behavior. Commonly it is a cry for more stimulation, usually in the form of activities beyond their age. Don’t be afraid to let your toddlers help or join in on “adult” activities – just be sure to keep them safe.
Our littlest people learn so much by mimicking what they see their parents, siblings or friends doing. Being a good role model provides a strong foundation and exploration helps them to become individuals.Find out more
6. Treasure hunt
This fun game can be done anywhere; at home, at the supermarket or in the car. Choose a theme, a colour or a shape – a single letter is best for toddler-aged children. Ask them to look for anything that is of the theme. For example; look for food with red on the packaging, or green cars, or anything square shaped. Count the items as you go. This can link back to the label game at home, where you suggest they look for any items that belong in the pantry, or the pot drawer. It encourages looking for patterns and themes which will help develop numeracy skills.
7. Create a basic calendar
Draw up a basic grid that incorporates a column for each of the seven days of the week. Label each day together. Think about an activity that you do on each day and draw a picture of it. It might be that Tuesday you visit the supermarket, Wednesday playgroup or the park. Identify an object together that represents an activity for that day. Draw it into the grid, get your toddler to colour it in, or decorate it and then talk about each picture within the context of the day. Each morning refer to the calendar, based on the picture (or symbol) you’ve drawn for that day. This will help them understand the passing of time, and outlining the routine provides comfort and security.
8. Draw weather windows
Once made, these can be used as reference cards and changed daily, weekly or monthly. Talk about the different types of weather with your child. Look out the window and describe what you see. On firm cardboard, get them to draw different types of weather or use symbols to represent the seasons. Display the most relevant weather card on your notice board. When the weather or seasons change, get your child to choose the most relevant card for the weather outside. This will help identify changes in season and passing of time.
9. Cooking or baking
Introducing your child to cooking in the toddler years is an excellent way to introduce themes of healthy eating, as well as measures and weights. Allow your child to choose something to bake – mini muffins are a good choice – both sweet and savoury. Choose a simple recipe and let them participate in simple tasks like pouring in the cup of flour, or stirring the mixture. Add colour by adding in frozen blueberries or raspberries. When adding each ingredient talk about measurements, quantities and volume. When cleaning up, you can link back to your label game and ask them to guess where the utensils go.
10. Make a photo board
Using photos of family and friends who are familiar to your child, make a collage of photos. Using craft materials make labels for the photos – whether they are names of places, activities or names of the people in the photos. This will help them start to recognise letters or words for people and places in their world. Read books that relate to the photos also, then refer back to the photo board. This will give your child a sense of community and a sense of home.
There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your child branch out and achieve something new for the first time. You can support this progress, not only by extending your child through various activities, but also by ensuring he/she is receiving a nutritious, balanced diet to support this learning and development. Aptamil Toddler can help your child take on everything their future holds by helping lay the foundations so they can take one giant leap after another, when consumed as part of a healthy varied diet. Our AptaNutrition Advisory team is available to answer any questions you may have and can be contacted on 1800 438 500 or at http://www.aptanutrition.com.au/support-and-advice.