Toddlers learn in more ways than we know. They gain knowledge about the world around them through everything they touch, move, break, or even put in their mouth. As parents, it’s essential that we allow them to explore and play since that’s how they learn best. So, if you’re in search of educational activities for toddlers that don’t require you to make any special preparations, other than giving your little ones enough time and space, you should probably rely on types of play that can develop their motor skills, creativity, and intelligence. Here are some ideas.
Playing in puddles
Many parents freak out when their toddler jumps into a puddle and their first instinct is to scream at the child and get them away from the wetness. But why do children love those puddles so much? Your previously clean child is experiencing something new and is getting the precious sensory input which teaches them that there are different textures of things they can step on or in, as well as how water behaves when you jump into it. Perhaps your child prefers putting things on top of the water in the puddle, and that allows them to learn which objects will float and which will sink. So, next time your toddler starts playing with the water from puddles, just let them. It’s how they learn.
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It’s obvious that toddlers utilize their imagination and creativity when pretend playing, but the benefits of it don’t stop there. As they pretend to be dinosaurs or are having tea with their dolls, teddy bears, and friends, they are actually learning how to cooperate with others and solve different kinds of problems. They also learn a lot about themselves and their own feelings and behaviours, while developing their intelligence, as well as verbal and social skills, such as taking turns, having conversations, and negotiating. If there are also some good toys for them to use, they’ll engage in some valuable early learning at home. This enables them to focus better and nurture their talents and creativity while preparing for any further educational steps.
Playing with mud
Children can’t really resist the urge to just dip their hands into that squishy mixture of water and dirt, and that’s perfectly fine. In fact, it’s more than fine. It’s advisable for them to play in the mud. Mud sculptures and pictures, but also cakes and anything else your toddlers can ‘cook up’ are a great way for them to express themselves while developing their fine and gross motor skills. There is a whole variety of benefits of mud play, from physical and emotional to social and cognitive. Just don’t forget that mud can be washed away, so just let them have fun it and engage all of their senses in creating whatever their imagination can come up with.
Rolling down hills
Now, you might ask what in the world your little ones can gain from rolling down hills, other than dirt and grass stains on their clothes. Again, you’d be making a huge mistake by preventing them from this insanely fun activity. It improves their sensory processing, allows them to connect with nature, and, above all, stimulates their ligaments and muscles, which means that it’s beneficial to their physical development. Plus, you can observe rolling down the hill as a way for your toddler to experiment with their body. Through this experiment, they’ll find out how to best position different parts of their body to roll down faster or slower, as well as which surface, grassy, sandy or earthy allows them to roll down smoother and quicker. It can enhance their balance, body awareness, and sense of space. So, instead of forbidding them to roll down hills, perhaps you can join the fun next time and let your inner child feel the thrill.
Children can play anywhere and with anything. Where you see a used plastic bottle, they may see a ship, a doll or a musical instrument in the making. Therefore, the best thing you can do is let them play and learn whatever they can from it.
Do you have any educational activities for toddlers that are simple and don’t require any prep work? Share in the comments below!
Isabel William is a consultant by day, a blogger by night and Mom to twins 24/7.
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