Exploring the world through a toddler’s eyes opens us up to experiences that may as well be brand new…it’s a shame most adults can’t remember their own toddler years! How much fun it is to enjoy things for the first time. This section focuses on the toddler years, covering ages 1 and 2 years.
Gross Motor Skills
Continuing skills learned during the first twelve months of life, toddlers spend much of their play time focusing on gross motor skills. If they are already walking, they continue to develop this skill, and grow from walking to running and possibly rolling or jumping. Their coordination becomes better, and they can handle additional play tasks with balls and other active play toys.
Look for toys that continue to encourage this development. Water play and other outdoor toys are great for encouraging active play. Ride-on toys help toddlers develop whole-body coordination; many can be converted based on the child’s age and developmental stage. Toddlers cannot typically manage pedals, so a ride-on toy that the child can push with her feet is essential.
Soft mats and foam wedges are great for beginning tumbling and climbing activities. It helps to provide the child with a safe area and set of toys for this kind of play.
Puzzles and Construction
In addition to the gross motor development, toddlers begin to focus on fine motor skills. These skills, such as grasping, turning, and positioning items, allows them to interact with puzzles and construction toys. Puzzles also encourage problem-solving skills, and construction toys help build the imagination and can cross the line into pretend play as well.
Shape sorters are popular toys for toddlers, and they come in all shapes and materials. Like puzzles, shape sorters help children develop problem-solving skills. They can also be used to help children learn to recognize and name different shapes and colors.
The toddler years are the perfect time to be exposed to the wide variety of shapes in the world. Multi-shaped blocks can show toddlers the difference between shapes, and what shape of blocks fit into the corresponding holes.
Unique puzzles offer simply shaped puzzle pieces, so young children can see how these pieces fit together. The large pieces and bright colors ensure that little hands can have large amounts of fun while learning what different shapes look like.
A toddler’s world is a myriad sea of colors, as their eyes have adjusted since birth to take in everything around them. Choose brightly colored toys, such as stacking blocks and puzzles that give children the opportunity to sort and categorize the different colors of the rainbow.
When you are playing with these colorful toys with your toddlers, say the names of the colors one by one as you point them out. Even before your toddler can speak, they can learn that there is a difference between the colors, and can understand you when you ask them to choose a certain colored block.
It is never too early to expose your children to the world of reading. Telling your toddlers bedtime stories is a soothing evening routine to bring fanciful dreams of long ago and far away in their heads. Yet you can also allow your toddlers to learn about reading on their own, with fun and colorful books that are designed to inspire young minds.
Choose interactive books, with music and activities so your children will learn that reading is a fun activity. Even though many toddlers are not yet at the independent reading stage, they will benefit greatly from seeing the shapes of letters and words. Prepare them for reading early with books and interactive games that teach sounds and letters.