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What to Do When It’s Too Hot to Play Outside

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Too hot to play outside? There are still ways you can entertain and enrich infants, toddlers, and two-year-olds indoors—without putting on a movie or TV show. At these ages, more intellectual growth occurs than at any other point in life, and the structures that support learning now and in the future are created. To aid in this growth, children’s brains need as much challenging stimulation as possible. Fortunately, indoor activities can help children grow intellectually just as much as outdoor activities can.

These ideas from The Encyclopedia of Infant and Toddler Activities for Children Birth to 3 by Donna Wittmer provide indoor activities that help children with their emotional, cognitive, fine- and gross-motor, language, and social development. Try them during the next summer scorcher!

Bumpy Lumpy Locomotion (Infants and Toddlers)

Materials

  • Soft items, such as small pillows, rolled towels, or sponges
  • Flat washable sheet
  • Toy (optional)

What to Do

  1. Put a few soft items on the floor.
  2. Cover the items with a flat sheet.
  3. Put one or more infants or toddlers down on one side of the sheet.
  4. Stand or sit at the opposite side of the sheet and call the children. You can also use a toy to attract the children’s attention. Encourage the children to move across the bumpy lumpy surface to you.
  5. Observe when infants and toddlers seem surprised by a bump or lump. They may try crawling back and forth over the bumps to explore what they are. As the children try new and challenging experiences, they will use a variety of strategies to solve problems.
  6. The infants and toddlers will move across the sheet any way they can, either by rolling, crawling, or walking. Use parallel talk as the infants move across the sheet: “Tione is crawling. Marcus is rolling. Madu is looking at me.”

More to Do: Extensions and Adaptations

  • Use textured materials, such as rugs, blankets, or towels, on top of the sheet for the infants and crawling toddlers to crawl on and over.
  • To encourage curiosity and object permanence, place soft toys under the corners of towels for the children to discover.

 

Color Shopping (Toddlers and Two-Year-Olds)

Materials

What to Do

Ahead of Time:

  1. Paint each piece of card stock using a different color. Choose colors that are present in items in your classroom or home. Let dry.
  2. Write the name of the color on each card.

With the Children:

  1. Read one or two books about colors.
  2. Give each child or pair of children a card and a basket, and suggest that each child or pair look for an item of that color to put into the basket.
  3. When each child or pair has found one or two items, help them talk about what they collected. Hold up the card matching the items and read the name of the color. Say, for example, “Red. This word is red. R-E-D,” as you point to the letters.
  4. Ask the children to return the items to the areas where they belong.

More to Do: Extensions and Adaptations

For Older Toddlers:

  • An adult will need to go with the toddler to find objects of different colors. Talk about the color of items as you shop for, say, something blue.

For Toddlers and Two-Year-Olds:

  • Extend the activity into other learning areas by commenting on colors in each area and outdoors.
  • Place books about colors in many areas of the room or home.

For Two-Year-Olds:

  • If possible, encourage pairs of children to work together. They will enjoy being together to find the objects.

 

Animal Adventure

Materials

What to Do

Ahead of Time:

  1. Set up a play tunnel near the door for arrival times. If you don’t have a tunnel, use chairs with a sheet over them. Do not block the doorway. Provide room for children to enter the room who do not want to go through the tunnel.
  2. Put a few stuffed bears and other animals in the tunnel and a few at the end for the children to find.

With the Children:

  1. When each child arrives (or comes out of or into rooms), ask whether he wants to go through the tunnel on an adventure and look for stuffed bears and other animals.
  2. Give each child a flashlight as he enters the tunnel.
  3. After the child has gone through the tunnel, ask him what he saw. Encourage the children to tell you the names of the animals they find. The children may want to do this activity repeatedly.
  4. Some children may want to hold a stuffed animal rather than leave it in the tunnel. Provide enough animals so that each child (if there are multiple children) can hold one.
  5. As the children investigate the tunnel, they will show curiosity, which is supported by novel experiences. Some children will be fearful of entering the tunnel. They will be taking a risk as they enter it.

More to Do: Extensions and Adaptations

For Toddlers and Two-Year-Olds:

  • If a child is fearful of entering the tunnel, look in from the other end so the child can see you.
  • Make the tunnel shorter for children who may be fearful.

For Two-Year-Olds:

  • Make the tunnel longer with some curves so children can’t see the end.
  • Count the number of animals that they saw.


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