Identifying Objects Belonging to a Specific Group 1 to 2 years old Print pictures of different kinds or breeds of dogs, cut and glue them on cardstock, to make cards. You may use cards already made if you have them. Look at these pictures with your toddler and talk about the way a dog looks like, what sound they make, and so on, no matter what they look like. As an extension, you may add more language to it, by naming each breed.
2 to 3 years old Print pictures of different kinds or breeds of dogs and cats, cut and glue them on cardstock, to make cards. You may use cards already made if you have them. Look at these pictures with your toddler and talk about the way a dog looks like, what sound they make, and so on, no matter what they look like. Do the same with cats. Mix the cards and ask you toddler to sort them in the two categories. As an extension, you may add more language to it, by naming each breed. Feel free to use any other categories, such as insects, body parts, instruments, tools, shapes, etc.
1 to 2 years old: Assembling a Simple Puzzle Make your own puzzle by cutting a large picture in two pieces, making one jagged diagonal or horizontal cut so that the puzzle can be put together only one way. Ideas of pictures: house, car, fruit, vegetables, farm animals, pets, trees, buildings, people, coins, simple scene. Show the puzzle to your toddler and explain what a puzzle is, take the pieces apart and put them together several times. Invite your toddler to do it. Let them explore, help if needed, make it available whole week. You may extend the activity by using a bought puzzle of 3 to 5 pieces.
2 to 3 years old: Assembling a Shape/Letter/Number Puzzle Use any bought shape/letter/number puzzle. Your toddler should be able to assemble a simple puzzle; you can do this one together to make sure they stay interested, considering that an alphabet puzzle, for example, has a considerable number of pieces. You may add language to it if they show interest or can talk well. Rotate the puzzles every one to two weeks.
1 to 2 years old: Distinguish Same from Different You need a basket containing three, identical, real-looking objects familiar to the child, such as three tooth brushes/hair brushes/hair clips/sponges/fruit/vegetables/socks/forks/spoons, etc. In a different basket place an object that is different from the ones in the first brushes. Example: if you use tooth brushes, this objects can be a hair brush, or if you use apples, this one can be a pear, etc.
Show your child the objects in the first basket, name them, describe them, and use the word “the same”. Introduce the other object, name it, and describe it, making sure you use the word “different”. Ask you toddler to explore on her own, make the activity available for as long as you think it necessary, then replace the objects with different ones from the list.
2 to 3 years old: Distinguish Same from Different Use the activity presented above. As an extension, instead of presenting actual objects, present cards showing pictures of real or real-looking objects. Make the different object markedly different from the others. Ideas: insects (three butterflies, and one ant), flowers (five daisies and one daffodil), clothing (two t-shirts and one skirt), etc.
1 to 2 years old: Tracing and Matching Shapes You need several large pieces of sturdy paper, a basket containing a metal cookie cutter in a basic geometrical shape, such as a circle, and a crayon, marker or pencil with thick head. You can also use a jar lid. Begin by sitting at the table with your child beside you. Place the material on the table in front of you, take the cookie cutter out of the basket and examine it. Slowly trace its shape with your fingers and give your toddler the chance to do the same.
Pick up the crayon. Holding the cookie cutter firmly on the paper with one hand, slowly and deliberately use the crayon to trace the shape. Trace the outline on the paper with your fingers, then invite the child to trace it too. Slide the cookie cutter toward the outline on the paper and move it this way and that until it fits exactly over the outline.
Invite the child to do the activity. Make sure there is enough room on the paper for another outline, if not, get a fresh one. If the child begins the activity, get up and let her work undisturbed. Do not correct the child, and do not intervene or interrupt. If the child does not start, offer your help. Guide the child’s hand to pick up the crayon and trace the cookie cutter, and so on. When finished, involve the child in cleaning up.
Extension: Provide other metal cookie cutters in a variety of simple shapes familiar to the child. Examples: animals, plants and flowers, trucks, houses, buildings. Instead of tracing and matching cookie cutters, you may use jar lids, blocks of wood, or other sturdy objects in simple shapes.
2 to 3 years old: Matching Shapes to Outlines Cut nine shapes – three each of three different shapes. Make them out of black card stock, quilted fabric or cardboard, and place them in a tray. Example: star, oval and elephant. Make a poster showing three horizontal rows of the three shapes. Make sure that each shape appears in the middle of a row, once on the right of a row and once on the left. Present each shape in three ways: first as a silhouette, then as a complete line drawing, and finally as a partial line drawing.
Each shape should be illustrated three times, this way you will have nine shapes on the poster. Start by tracing each of the outlines in the top row of the poster with your finger, and then choose a shape from the tray and trace around the edge of the shape with your finger. Hold the shape over each outline in the top row, turn the shape this way and that before placing it on its matching outline. Continue until you finish all shapes in the tray. Invite your child to do the activity on her own. Make sure the materials stay available for the child to work on again when she wishes. Introduce other shapes.
Carrying Out a Two-day Project This activity’s primary goal is to develop an understanding of the concept of time, especially the terms “yesterday” and “today”. Other goals are developing logic, thinking and language skills, developing creativity. You will need chalk, paint brushes and a child-size pail to hold water.
On day 1, you invite your child to be creative with chalk outside, either on a smooth sidewalk, a wall, a fence, some rocks or a log. Use words involved with time: “This basket has three pieces of chalk. Today, we are making lovely colors on some outside things with chalk. Tomorrow, we will wash the chalk off.”
On day 2, remind your child about the previous day’s activity outside. Emphasize words involved with time: “Yesterday we colored the wall outside with chalk. Today we are washing the chalk off.” Get the pail with water, brushes, and go outside. Once outside, invite the child to go to what she colored the previous day. Say, for example: “Let’s find the wall we colored yesterday. We are washing the chalk off today.” Show your child how to wash off the chalk with the brush and invite her to continue the activity.
Make this a group activity by inviting the whole family to participate.