Whether your toddler is in a school setting or at home, a curriculum is best built from his interests. Ask your little one what his favorite things are or what he wants to be when he grows up. Don’t be surprised if he says a “sanitation engineer” or a “fish.” While resource books and curriculum guides can be helpful, learning from interests and lifestyles is best for the toddler age. Make use of pretend play, songs, crafts and books.
Dinosaurs fascinate children and spark imagination and excitement when learning about these huge beasts. Let your toddler become a paleontologist for the day and do activities that promote dinosaur awareness. Hide plastic dinosaur toys in a bin of sand and invite your little ones to dig for fossils. Show them how to create fossil imprints by pressing these toy dinosaurs into modeling dough. Together, make a huge stuffed dinosaur by cutting two identical shapes taller than your toddler from butcher paper. Have fun painting the outside surfaces of the two pieces and then glue the edges together, leaving a pocket for the filling. When the glue is dry, stuff the creature with crumpled newspaper or fabric batting. Glue it shut and your youngster now has a gigantic dinosaur replica to pretend with.
Living on a Farm
Plan a field trip to a real farm if possible. If not, design a farm setting with a cardboard box barn, animal toys, toy trucks and tractors, and wooden blocks to make animal pens. Together, play farm and tend to the animals. Sing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” introducing the farm animals and making all the animal sounds. Don’t forget that farmers grow food as well. As you serve your kiddo a snack or lunch, cut up fruit and veggies and discuss how the farmer grew them on his land.
Who wants to become an astronaut and float around, moving weightless in space? Toddlers love pretend play and even dress the part. Why not take a T-shirt and adorn it with adhesive star stickers? An aluminum colander can be her space helmet. Use your imagination and set up a rocket ship or space station by gluing empty boxes and cartons together, wrapping them in aluminum foil. Sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or make up a simple rhyme about becoming an astronaut and blast off into the world of outer space.
Under the Sea
Whether your tyke wants to become an oceanographer or a fish, he will have fun studying the ocean. Transform your room into an underwater playground where you both learn about life under the sea. Make an aquarium mural from a long sheet of paper. Draw fish and sea life with crayons, cut sponges into fish and stamp these with paint onto the paper, and add ocean life stickers randomly on the mural. Tint cream cheese blue with food coloring and spread this onto a large cracker or slice of bread to make a fishy snack. Add fish-shaped crackers on top for your edible ocean.