Typical materials: rattles, large plastic lids, squeeze toys, wooden spoons, butter tubs, nesting and stacking toys.
Comments: Wash and disinfect daily. Vary textures for sensory stimulation.
Caution: No beads or small items that can cause choking.
Toddlers: 1-2 Years
Typical materials: nesting and stacking toys, puzzles of 2 to 5 pieces with knobs, pegboards with few large pegs, lightweight blocks 2 to 4 inches on a side, plastic containers with screw-on lids, baskets and other containers with handles to carry around, little trucks and other small toys to fill and dump from containers, simple matching and sorting materials, play dough.
Comments: Wash and disinfect daily if toys are explored by mouth. Provide manipulatives because children cannot share.
Caution: No beads or small items that can cause choking.
Fine Motor Manipulatives Ideas
Pin Drop – wide mouth bottle (Gatorade, peanut butter jar), clothespins. Let child drop pins in jar and dump them out again.
Ring the tube – Canning jar rings, paper towel tube. Adult holds child and paper towel tube, child put rings on tube and off again
Nesting – Collect large laundry detergent lids and let child dump and fill a butter tub or try nesting them
Bean Bag – roll a pair of socks and put inside a third sock. Tie or stitch the top closed. Show the child how to drop or toss the bean bag into an open shoe box, butter tub or small container.
Puzzles – large knob puzzles are great for infants and toddlers
Surprise boxes or jack in the boxes are fun and good for fine motor
Hide a toy under a shoe box or towel for child to retrieve
Clank , Clank– empty Pringle can with slit cut in plastic lid. Child can put poker chips or other flat pieces (frozen juice lids or baby food lids) through the slot. Makes great noise also. Baby wipes box can substitute for Pringle can.
Stacking – collect small boxes, tape lid on with wide packing tape, sit with child and model stacking boxes
Ribbon pull – cut round hole in small butter tub lid, put lid on tub and poke a 2 foot long ribbon or scarf into the tub. Sit with the child as ribbon is pulled from container.
Scarf pull – put scarf through a paper towel tube and tie ends together. Child will have fun pulling the scarf.
Alphabet blocks – cut several square holes into a shoe box lid. Put lid on box and let child drop blocks through the holes into the box
Pour, pour, pour – corn meal or rice in a plastic dishpan or large food storage container. Let children scoop with a spoon into detergent lids, or play dishes.
Scrunchie Stringing – Older toddlers – provide a length of small gage tubing and hair scrunchies for stringing on to the tubing. Large gage yarn or shoe string can be used after child understands how to string!
Infant and Toddler Activities
Cups and Spoons
Social Awareness: Individual, 8 to 18 months
Goals: To increase social awareness; to increase sensory motor skills
Materials: A variety of plastic cups with handles, plastic spoons
Procedure: Place the infant in a highchair and place a cup and spoon on the tray. Encourage the infant to explore each item. Demonstrate how you can use the spoon to hit the cup or to stir, and then give the item back to the infant. Encourage her to pick up the cup with the handle and pretend to drink from it or eat with the spoon. Repeat this using a slightly different cup. For younger infants introduce the cup and spoon separately before pairing them. As infants gain experience, give them several different cups and spoons to play with at the same time.
Assessment: The infant will explore the materials and occasionally use the cups and spoons appropriately.
Integration: It is useful for infants to have experience playing with and exploring the properties of cups and spoons before they use them to eat and drink
Sensory Motor Development: Individual, birth to 9 months
Goals: To increase sensory motor skills; to increase cognitive development
Procedure:Call the infant’s name and shake keys. Gently place the keys in her hand. Help her mouth, look at, or shake the keys, if necessary. Keep the keys close to the midline. Then offer keys for her to reach and grasp from different angles (up, down, right, left). Have her reach across her midline to get the keys. (This can be encouraged by having the child hold a toy in one hand while you offer the keys.) Increase the distance the keys are from the infant so that it is a long reach. Put the keys out of the infant’s field of vision and call, “Get the keys,” so she has to turn and reach.
Assessment: The infant will reach for and grasp the keys, crossing her midline.
Integration: Any small toy that intrigues the infant can be used. Reaching across her midline helps the sides of an infant’s brain communicate with each other.
Cognitive Development: Individual, 16 to 36 months
Goals: To increase cognitive development; to increase language and communication skills; to increase sensory motor skills
Materials: Toys (animals) that come apart
Procedure: Present the toy to the toddler to explore. If she doesn’t take it apart on her own, show her how. Talk about the toy’s body parts. Ask, “Where’s his head?” and so on. Use the toy to stimulate language development while you do the more difficult taking apart and putting together. Ask, “Is this where the head goes?” Or ask the child to show you where the head goes and then you put it on. Take off one part at a time, such as the head or tail. Encourage the toddler to replace that piece. Gradually remove more and more pieces for the toddler to replace or encourage the toddler to pull the toy apart. Help put the toy back together as needed.
Assessment:The toddler will take the toy apart, identify the body parts, and put it back together.
Integration:This activity helps toddlers think about body parts as well as part-whole relationships.
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