Parenting is full of learning curves, as we all know. In addition to transitioning from Texas to Colorado, we have also been transitioning from pre-toddler to toddler. Being in a new place, knowing no one, while entering toddlerhood has been quite an adventure. I have scoured the internet for fun things to do with young toddlers, but it has been hard finding activities that apply to toddlers under two-and-a-half.
So, here is a list of what we've tried and loved so far:
1. Mommy-and-Me classes. From music classes to toddler gym, these are super fun and inexpensive.
2. Library Storytimes. This is a free activity hosted weekly by most public libraries. We go and listen to stories, sing songs, watch puppet shows, and then play with toys. While you're there, you can check out books, music, and DVDs.
3. Coloring. My little one started coloring at around 17 months old, and she loves it more and more every day. We use the jumbo Crayola crayons, and I've also melted crayons into chunky crayons to spice things up a bit. She sits in her high chair next to me, and she tells me what she wants to draw and where on the paper. So, we draw trees, balls, balloons, butterflies, apples, umbrellas, flowers, circles, and letters. It is a great opportunity to practice colors and the alphabet, among other things.
4. Books and reading. Sit down and quietly read with your little one in your lap for at least 30 minutes each day. Check books out at the library. You can also get cheap board books from the dollar spot at Target.
5. Educational DVDs. First of all, it is imperative to limit TV and DVD watching. Up to thirty minutes per day, though, can provide a great opportunity for you and your little one. You can check out DVDs at the library as well. I have viewed lots of options from the local library, and for younger toddlers, I recommend Baby Einstein, Brainy Baby, Blue's Clues, and any Sesame Street singalongs. There are some real duds out there for toddlers which are a waste of time and money. My little one is not quite old enough for Veggie Tales, but I am looking forward to those days in the near future!
6. Going to the zoo or aquarium (or the pet store). Most toddlers love seeing and learning about animals. On a nice day, take a trip to the zoo. Or, if your city doesn't have a zoo or aquarium, take your little one to the pet store to see all of the fish swimming around the fish tanks. They'll love it!
7. Stickers. We just recently discovered how fabulous stickers can be! I looked around different places for some sticker books, but they were extremely expensive! When I went in to Joann's craft store the other day, they had tons of sticker books at the front of the store for only $1! Each book has over 600 stickers. You could also check Target's dollar spot as well.
8. Sign language. This is a fun way for your toddler (and you!) to improve communication skills and vocabulary. I would recommend starting with Baby Einstein's My First Signs and then following with Baby Wordsworth (both are taught by actress Marlee Matlin).
9. Toys. There are two toys that we absolutely can't live without! The Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Stack and Roll Cups provide entertainment and learning while enhancing your child's motor development, plus they're really inexpensive! Second is the Fisher-Price Little People Animal Sounds Farm. This toy is so wonderful. My little one carries the animals around with her and practices their sounds and then takes them in and out of the actual farmhouse. It is great for toddler development, and the little figures are just adorable! We also love any chunky wooden puzzles, like those made by Melissa and Doug.
10. Playgrounds. Local parks are free and so much fun! Swinging, sliding, running, climbing--your little one will have a blast and sleep well at night!
11. Pots and pans. If you have a lower cabinet or drawer that your little one can access, fill it with safe bowls, colanders, plastic or wooden spoons, cups, measuring cups, cloth napkins, plastic plates, etc. Switch them out every couple of days to keep it fresh!
12. Take a walk. Walking on a nice day, either in the park or at the mall, can be an easy way to get you out of the house for a while!
13. Rocks. Go outside and look for rocks. Or flowers. Or leaves. So simple, but toddlers are curious creatures! They will love exploring and discovering since everything is still new and exciting to them! Compare the different colors and sizes and textures of the rocks, and practice counting. Point out trees and flowers and falling leaves, and they will have the best time.
14. Sing songs. Crowd favorites include The itsy bitsy spider, If you're happy and you know it, Twinkle twinkle little star, and The wheels on the bus. Do hand motions and get ready to par-tay!
15. Help Mommy. I ask my little one to "help" me with laundry. So, I will hand her a clean sock from the washing machine and she'll put it in the dryer, then we'll repeat it a few times until she's bored, and then I'll finish loading the dryer. Or I'll say, "can you please take these shoes to your room?" And she will happily take her little pink shoes to the doorway of her room.
While we have tried coloring books and playdoh, we are just not quite ready for those things yet! You can see last week's toddler activities here!
Please feel free to leave any additional suggestions in the comments section below! Thanks!