From bedtime to playtime your child is always learning. Check out these family-time ideas for building their skills -- and your family connections. Want weekly ideas too? Sign up for Bloom Bright and have them sent right to your phone as texts!
It may seem like your child never stops. Two-year-olds love constant movement! Finding ways to keep them busy and keep you sane can be challenging. Take a look at your space, bedroom, playroom or outdoors. How can you change it up to encourage healthy movements (and maybe some solid napping)?
Move the toys to higher shelves so your child can still reach but has to stand while getting them out.
Move chairs away from your kitchen or dining table and drape a sheet over it. Abracadabra — you have a magical play world.
Explore new flavors by creating a family taste test at mealtime. Pick three food items that are the same color. Then, have the whole family use describing words to talk about them. Talk about how they are the same and different. One fun combination would be orange segments, baked sweet potato fries and cheese crackers!
Make It New Again!
Running out of space for toys or are stepping over them all the time? Gather up seldom-used toys in a box. Pop them in a closet for two weeks or a month. Then, bring them back out—Ta-da! It’s like having brand new toys. Your child will probably play with them in a new way, because guess what? They have grown and developed while those toys waited in the closet.
Pizza is not only a favorite food for many children, it’s also for cooking up fun pretend play. Open up an imaginary pizza parlor with kitchen supplies – rolling pin, measuring cups and spoons, and mixing tools. You and your child can use paper or felt to make creative flavor combinations. Red circles make great pepperoni, strips of colored paper can be peppers, and a shredded tissues makes delightful cheese! Have fun and create.
Music Is In The Air
Music sets the tone for a lot of activities. It can be soft and slow at bedtime. Or you can make it fast and energetic for a family dance party. Pick a song, move or dance together, and use basic music words to talk about it. Some ideas: fast and slow, loud and soft, happy and sad, or silly and serious.
Share & Care
At bedtime or at dinner, have everyone share about their day “What did you do when you went to the park?” Help your child to recall and describe recent events. It seems simple, but asking these questions will create links and connections for your child.
To help your little one understand how he belongs to many communities, talk about the different “groups” in your life. “We are going to grandma’s. The whole family will be there. Can you draw me a picture of everyone who will be there?” Other groups to discuss include school, neighborhood and friend groups.
WHAT? IT’S SNOWING!
Snow, wind, sun and rain get children excited. So, take advantage of this energy to think together about weather. Point out details of the weather. “It’s snowing! Look at the snowflakes fall through the air.” Talk about what direction snow and rain fall. Or discuss which way the wind is blowing. Observing nature is a great way to build science skills.
Did you know that toys and playtime build problem-solving skills? As your child solves problems with her toys, she builds engineering skills and explores cause and effect. When playing with blocks, tiles and pose-able figures, take time to chat about what she’s doing. Do the blocks tumble after the fifth one is added? Does the construction worker fall when you bend him at the waist?
Learning to Play Together
At two, toddlers begin to build the skills they need to play in small groups. Plan a play date with another child close to your child’s age and enjoy the company of adults too! But don’t get sad if they only play together a little—toddlers usually like group play for just short periods of time.
Boundless curiosity is a normal part of toddlerhood. And you can spark exploration with open-ended playtime. Set up some containers of toys. Then, talk through the cause and effect of dumping, stacking and all the other chaotic and fun toddler work.
Routines bring a comforting rhythm to your toddler’s life. They also help them make positive transitions. Work together to create daily routines like eating breakfast before dressing, adding a hug and a high-five at drop off, or reading two books at your set bedtime. Once you have some of your routines set, make a family chart of key daily moments. Use words and pictures so toddlers and grown-ups can both read your chart as you go through the day.
Turn “terrible” twos into a terrific time. Becoming more independent leads to more talking and more “do it myself” moments. And, more than anything, it leads to an expanded understanding of the world. Nurture that growth by pointing out the positives. That helps to balance the challenges that come with this age. Be sure to tell your child when they are succeeding. “I saw you say goodbye to you friend today. How sweet!”
More Or Less
Your child is beginning to understand and use early math concepts. During the day, add comparison words to family chatter. Some great ones to work in: more, less, some, none, many, big, small, tall, short… “Oh there are none left! We ate all the blueberries. Yum.”
NOW YOU SEE IT! NOW YOU DON’T!
Place a small number of toys out to count. “Look we have three stuffed animals here.” Ask your child to turn around. Then, remove or add an animal. Have him turn back around briefly. Then, when he turns back to the toys ask him what changed. This game builds an understanding of the ideas of more or less and adding and subtracting.
Fingers & Toes!
Counting toes and fingers is a natural way to reinforce counting skills — hands-on. Think about other items you can count during your daily routines. While you eat, count bites of food. When you travel, count cars that zoom by. When you read, add counting as you talk about pictures. “Let’s count the little puppies in your book. One, two, three!”
Easy Access Books
Make books available in all areas of your home! Help your little one get reading-ready by letting her lead the way. She can hold a book and turn pages all by herself. With books in her room, on a coffee table or in a low kitchen cupboard, she can also choose them on her own.
Are your child’s first words and sentences hard to understand? Ask your little one to help you understand. “Do you want more cereal or more blueberries?” Giving your toddler an extra second or two to respond helps them practice.