18 - 24 Months
Infants and toddlers are holistic learners, which means that although one activity may primarily target one developmental area, all domains are “at play.” When you are targeting motor development, your presence and connection with your baby also inevitably target social/emotional development, your words develop your child’s communication, and the concepts you discuss and problem-solving your baby is doing develop cognition. The more you interact with your baby, the more your baby learns!
These activities are all meant to be interactive, and should be supervised by a fully present adult.
Music is a very natural opportunity to hear and engage in patterns. Nearly every piece of music is based on a sequence that often repeats (through melody and lyrics). When a child is able to anticipate a pattern and “sequence” a series of events, he is building math and early literacy skills.
Sing songs that are repetitive and that have rhyming lyrics to help your child learn to anticipate what comes next (Wheels on the Bus, Old MacDonald’s Farm, etc.)
Your child is likely starting to understand and use language more and more. Although there is so much focus on a child’s vocabulary at this age, the way your child uses language socially is also a large part of his ability to communicate.
Model how to start a conversation, take turns during an interaction, and ask & answer questions. Narrate what you’re doing or what your child is doing, telling a story about what’s happening in your lives.
+ Motor / Sensory
Your child is learning so much about what her body is capable of, and is fine-tuning many skills, especially those that include “fine motor” skills, or movements with small muscles that often involve more precision.
Offer activities that require use of your child’s fingers and hands, such as drawing, placing stickers on paper, painting (with fingers or using tools), cutting, clay and mud play, and building materials.
+ Social / Emotional
Your child is clearly communicating her mood, her feelings, and her desires - through verbal and non-verbal means. Your child independently chooses and explores materials, and may engage in pretend play.
Model ways to play with her desired materials, without expecting that she do the same. Follow her lead, and give words for the actions she performs and the way she plays. This encourages her sense of self and develops social relationships.
bring this information to life
+ Musical Experiences
- Use a paper roll as a microphone, or find a place where you can hear your voice reverberate. Call attention to this, and encourage your baby to listen to the way her own voice changes!
- Choose a melody and sing one word repeatedly, until you point to the next. Encourage your baby to point or verbalize the word she’d like you to sing.
- Add sound effects to something you see.
+ Literacy Experiences
- Create a cozy corner or pillow fort, and keep a rotating collection of 2-3 picture books there
- Collect a few items from a story, and refer to them when reading the book, linking the story to a real-life experience with an object. Re-enact a character’s experience!
- Use scrap paper or a notebook for play with stickers (address labels, tape) & drawing materials
+ Sensory Experiences
- Fill a bathtub, ice chest, or plastic bin full of water, grab an empty water bottle or a cup. Fill up and pour out, splash, transfer!
- Turn over a colander and stick spaghetti or other long pieces of pasta through the holes
- Use a straw to blow a tissue, leaf, or other lightweight object across the floor. Alternatively, alternate light and heavy objects, and experiment with what works.
+ Visual Supports
- Take turns hiding behind drapes, under a sheet, or peeking out from a wall to play “peek-a-boo”
- Cut a picture from a magazine or printed web image in half or in three parts, creating a puzzle
- Use a doll or stuffed animal to engage in pretend play with your child, acting out a caregiving routine (brush hair, offer a cup, give a bath, put to bed...)