Tuesday, 24 March 2015

17-Month Toddler Learning

We try to foster a great learning environment at home. 

This involves all different types of learning: creativity, organization, gross and fine motor skills, language development, music, and educational (letters, numbers).  We spend time each day doing activities in almost all of those categories.  Now I'm not a crazy home-school, stay-at-home-mom kind of person (though sometimes I wish I were!).  I find that these activities unfold organically as a part of our daily lives.

From the time the boys were born, I found that I just spoke out loud to them ALL the time!  I didn't even realize it until my brother-in-law pointed out that I was always talking to the kids.  I have also sung and we have played music and instruments for them since a young age.  We read books every day.  We have lots of educational toys where they are seeing and hearing the alphabet and numbers.  We spend time on puzzles, activity boards, cup stacking and blocks.  We do sensory play and art a few times a week.

I just love watching the boys learn and grow.  I think the developing mind is such a fascinating thing!  As a counsellor, I have seen the effects when stages of development are missed at an early age.  A teenage boy I saw actually stopped talking for months at the age of 18 months due to fighting and abuse at home.  Needless to say, it has affected his social interaction and language development to this day!  Apart from that being terribly sad, I find that story highlights how crucial a time this is for teaching and giving the kids positive learning experiences. 

As Easter is approaching, I am using the opportunity to draw the boys attention to colors and shapes.  We haven't done too many activities yet, but here are a few I have tried.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I think my boys are just slightly too young (17 months, and premature) to be getting a lot from these activities, but I find that if I put it away and take it out a few weeks later, they often have caught up and really enjoy it.

One of the first activities we tried was matching pom-poms to coloured toilet paper rolls.  A while back the boys loved dropping pom-poms through a paper towel roll that was taped to the wall.  I hoped they would catch on to the colour matching, but they did not.  They liked putting the pom-poms in the rolls, but eventually just began stuffing them in their mouths instead.  Game over.

The next one I tried was a matching game involving construction paper shapes.  I spent an evening cutting out shapes, tracing them onto butcher paper, and taping the paper onto the window for the boys to "pin" up the shapes.  Unfortunately, before I made it to showing them the activity, RJ found the paper and just ripped it off the wall while I was busy changing MJ's diaper.  Fail.  I still think it will be a fun game, so today I re-did the butcher paper and taped it to the floor in the kitchen.  We'll see how it goes.

There are hundreds of activities online involving Easter eggs, and this one has been a hit so far.  Again, I am working on colour matching and have bowls to match the coloured eggs.  I have tried getting the boys to match the eggs to the bowl, but they can't quite do it yet.  However, these bowls and eggs did occupy them for a good 30 minutes (hours in toddler years!) as they filled up the bowls and carried the eggs all around the house.  They continue to be a popular toy as the days go on!

Finally, another sensory bin I made with "cloud dough" and Easter eggs.  The dough was just made with oil (I used olive, but I think vegetable would work better), food coloring, and flour.  MJ didn't spend long on it, but RJ had a good 20 minutes playing with the dough.  First we stirred it.  Then we transferred it from one bowl to the other with the spoon, then with our hands.  Finally we scooped it up with the eggs.  It ended up being quite messy (I should have taped the cloth down) but it was fun.  Next time, I'll take it outdoors too. 

What mess mom???


  1. I too talked and talked to my son as soon as he was born. Telling him what we were doing, what I saw as we went for a walk, etc. I have since then read that doing that can actually help with language development. I think it did work for us, as we are doing two languages and our boy is quite verbally advanced for his age. (I was and am surprised still!)

    I've not tried a sensory box yet, but we have done tons and tons of activities with our son. He loves it! A huge hit in our house, around the age of your boys and even now, was putting some contact paper on the floor/table/wall and giving him pompom balls, bits of yarn and paper pieces to put on it. We also have butcher/shelf paper taped to a door/wall where he can put stickers. I believe that giving him this specific place to put stickers has prevented our house from having them all over. (Plus, we watch him when he does have stickers...) But he knows that anytime he gets a sticker, it can go on that paper. We've replaced the paper wall many times over.

    Oh, and if your boys don't get an activity now, try again later, like you've done. Sometimes it takes a while for their brain to (unconsciously) process it. And even if the activity doesn't go as you planned, if the kids spend any time at all doing something with it, it is a success in my book! Occupied kid? Success!!
    Here from ICLW.

  2. Your boys are so cute! I don't have kids but I have spoken to my nephews since they were born out loud. I've also started doing sensory play with them when I have them because it's just so cool to see them light up. I can't wait to see how your boys grow up - you seem to be nurturing the best parts! Those are important for me to and as a violinist I plan to have any child we have familiar with an instrument as early as possible - music and reading are so important! Here via ICLW!