1 to 2 years old: Putting Lids On and Taking Them Off You need a small, thick, clear glass jar with a lid. Make sure that the lid fits tightly enough so that it stays on when the jar is shaken upside down, but not so tightly that the child will not be able to remove it. You also need an object small enough to fit in the jar. To attract the child to taking the lid off the jar, choose an interesting or unusual object, or one that makes a rattling sound when the jar is shaken. Examples: length of metal chain, necklace of large wooden beads, set of keys, small toy, etc.
Lift up the jar and examine it, shake it gently, turn it upside down and peer at the object inside; exaggerating your turning movement, unscrew the lid and remove it; gently poor the object out of the jar, pick it up and examine it. Assemble and ask the child to start over, offering your help if necessary. As the child acquires experience and skill, place two or more small objects in the jar. These require more manual dexterity to remove than just one.
2 to 3 years old: Cutting with Scissors You need a pair of round-end, child-size scissors with blunt blades, a ball of play dough, a small bowl, all placed on a small work tray. Show your toddler how to roll a handful of play dough into a thin short rope about 3 inches long. Pick up the scissors and slowly and deliberately open and close them a few times, to show the child how they can be manipulated. Slowly open the blades and insert one end of the play dough rope, and close the blades. Place the pieces you make in the bowl.
Repeat until you use all play dough. Invite the child to do the activity, offering your help. When the child has finished, encourage the child to form the play dough pieces into one ball again, put the materials on the tray and return them to their proper place. The cleaning up process might also involve wiping the table and scissors. This completes the activity.
Extension 1: As the child acquires experience and skill, vary the kind and thickness of material you present so that the child can practice adjusting strength to material. Examples: short lengths of wool, ribbon, strips of paper, small squares of newspaper, recycled greeting cards, straw, grass, flower stems. You may keep the materials in a collage tray and use them later to make art, by gluing them on a sheet of construction paper
1 to 2 years old: Picking up Objects with a Magnet What you need: a magnet big enough to be held easily by the child, and a basket containing three different small metal objects that can be lifted by magnet. Examples: key, napkin ring, bell, length of chain, jar lid, tea strainer. Teach your toddler to pick up the objects with the magnet. You may make it available all week, or may change the objects. As an extension, add objects that are not magnetic and explain the difference between magnetic and non-magnetic, by simply showing how the magnet picks up certain objects and does not others.
2 to 3 years old: Transferring Tiny Objects Using Grasping Implements What you need: two small plates/ramekins, tweezers/tongs, small noodles/dried corn/dried beans/nuts/beads/buttons. As much as possible choose tiny objects that are identical or very similar in size, shape, and color. This activity should be done at the table, while sitting down. Show your toddler how to manipulate the tweezers first, and then how to transfer the small objects from one plate to the other. Always work from left to right. Show your toddler how to clean up when the tiny objects end up on the table. Try the activity using various materials from the list above
Throwing from A Distance The primary goal of this activity is to develop gross motor skills. Other goals are developing eye-hand coordination, developing visual acuity, practicing order. You will need a wicker laundry basket or other low container, a pail or waste basket containing 15 to 20 small, lightweight objects that can be thrown, such as balls made out of rolled-up socks, ping-pong balls, small bean bags, foam hair curlers.
Place the laundry basket on the floor, then move to a place about 2 feet away, and put the pail of socks there. Make a line with tape on the floor where your pail of socks is, and position your toes just behind it. Start throwing your socks one by one, making a few practice throwing motions at first. Make sure to miss once or twice. Put everything back in the pail and start over, inviting your child to do the activity this time. As the child acquires experience and skill, gradually increase the distance between the child and the basket. After the child has had the opportunity to work with a wide range of objects, present an assortment of throwing objects. This will allow your toddler to experience differences in weight, shape and feel, and learn to adjust her throw accordingly
Heavy Movement Move furniture away from the walls to clean, sweep, dust, wipe, or maybe even rearrange. Invite your child to help with the pushing, lifting, and cleaning.
Work of the Hands Practice inhibitory control and lightness of touch by carefully and quietly pushing drawers in, closing doors, placing plates on the table, and turning the pages of a book.“Watch and listen while I close the drawer. (You model closing the drawer slowly and quietly.) Did you hear any sound?
Obstacle Course Use what you have at home to create “obstacle courses.” Map out a space in your home (it does not need to be big). Create a starting line. Use a pose (like a yoga animal)to start. End with some dance moves. Here are some examples: a.Balance: walk over couch cushions on the floor. b.Crawling: put sheets over chairs to create tunnels. c.Walking: place paper circles on the floor to follow. d.Jumping: lay a broom handle on the floor to jump over. e.Coordination: place stuffed animals on the floor to zig zag through. Work of the Hands Tighten all the screws & bolts & knobs on furniture, cabinets, etc., discovering the best tool for each job.