The holidays are just around the corner! That means it’s the season of mechanical toys with on/off switches, containers filled with magic surprises, and the possibility of snow. "Toddlers enjoy dumping and filling, opening and closing containers, as well as crawling and walking through obstacle courses," shares Donna Wittmer, PhD, editor of The Encyclopedia of Infant and Toddler Activities for Children Birth to Three. "Children from twelve to twenty-four months of age are developing both their large muscles in their arms and legs and their small muscles in their hands. Activities that engage toddlers' eyes and hands together build perceptual and eye-hand coordination skills. Activities that support emotional, social, language and literacy development are very important during these years."
Psychologist Jean Piaget developed the concept of cognitive disequilibrium, which occurs when a person is confronted with information that does not fit with what he already knows. When the children realize that some toys have switches and others do not, they are motivated to create a new idea of schema of what a toy is and what if can do. They will experiment to see which toys become active when a switch is flipped.
Mechanical toys with on/off switches
What to Do
Let the children explore the mechanical toys and flashlights. Encourage them to experiment with the on/off switches.
As the children explore, they will seek information and demonstrate persistence in their actions and behaviors. This occurs when children are offered new toys and allowed to explore them.
Empty tissue box or wipes container
Several colorful handkerchiefs, silk scarves, or soft pieces of cloth
What to Do
Ahead of Time:
- If you are using a wipes container, slightly enlarge the hole in the top with the scissors.
- Carefully tie the scarves together at one corner with small knots that will go through the hole or slit at the top of the container used, creating a long length of scarves. Make sure the knots are very tight.
- Make a large knot at the end of the chain to prevent it from coming out of the container.
- Stuff the scarf chain into the container. Leave a bit of the end piece sticking out of the opening.
- Put the box on the floor for the children to discover. Be sure to supervise carefully.
With the Children:
- When a child discovers the box, she will begin to pull the scarf chain out. She may experiment with how hard to pull the scarf chain.
- Comment on what the child is doing, "Oh, look! You found a surprise. Wow! Here comes another one. Oh, it's purple. I wonder how many there are. Keep pulling!"
- Talk with the children about the colors of the scarves, the patterns or designs on the scarves, and the number of scarves in the box.
- Be prepared to stuff the scarves back into the container many times. As the children explore the scarves, they will show interest and curiosity about objects and materials.
What to Do
Recite the following two rhymes, making the necessary gestures when indicated. If appropriate, encourage the children to say the rhymes with you and/or move their hands to the words of the rhyme.
Snowflakes falling on the ground, (wiggle fingers from high to low)
Snowflakes falling all around, (wiggle fingers around body)
Snowflakes falling, one, two, three, (count with fingers)
Snowflakes fall on you and me! (point to a child, then point to yourself )
One little snowflake fell on my hat. (show one finger and point to head)
Two little snowflakes fell on my cat. (show two fingers)
Three little snowflakes fell on a tree. (show three fingers)
Four little snowflakes fell on me! (show four fingers, then point to self )
Suggested Book: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats