Summer provides a wonderful time for exploring with your children. Below are some ideas for activities to try with your children aimed at encouraging learning, sensory exploration, communication, and fun! Ideas have been adapted from the book, “More Things to Do with Toddlers and Twos,” by Karen Miller. While the ideas were designed for very young children, most of these activities may be adapted to children up to a 5-year-old level by using language and asking questions to match their level.
Photographic Sequencing Game: You’ll need a camera and film, as well as clear self-adhesive plastic (such as contact paper). Take pictures of your child(ren) doing their daily activities. Once the pictures are developed, encase them in the plastic to increase durability. Younger children will simply enjoy identifying and labeling people, objects, and activities that they know. Older children might enjoy sequencing the activities, remembering what happened first, next, etc.
Silly Questions: Use an old sock and markers to create a puppet. Use the puppet to ask your child(ren) “silly” questions (e.g., Do cars swim?) or to describe things incorrectly (e.g., I like your pretty purple hair!). Young children will be amused and be able to display their vocabulary and knowledge by “correcting” the puppet.
Cornstarch goop: You’ll need 1 box of cornstarch, water, a mixing bowl, and food coloring (optional). Include your child(ren) in the preparation of the “goop” to practice sequencing, if appropriate (e.g., First, we need a bowl and the cornstarch, next we open the cornstarch and pour it into the bowl, etc.). Mix the cornstarch and water in a bowl, creating a gravy-like consistency. The substance turns hard and warm when you squeeze it, but liquefies and runs through your fingers when you loosen your squeeze. Add food coloring, if desired.
Nature sticky picture: You’ll need clear contact paper, a piece of construction paper, and small paper bags. Take your child(ren) on a short walk to explore in the park or on a nature trail. Let them gather small pieces of grass, leaves, flowers, etc. and collect them in their paper bags. Back at home, let your child(ren) show what they found and talk about it. Then, peel off the back of a paper-sized sheet of contact paper and have the children place the objects onto the sticky contact paper. When they have finished placing their findings, stick the contact paper to a piece of colorful construction paper.
Sticky feet. You’ll need a large piece of self-adhesive plastic (such a contact paper) and masking tape. Tape a large piece of self-adhesive plastic to the floor, sticky side up. Be sure to tape all around the edges so it won’t buckle. Then have your child(ren) walk on the sticky floor with barefeet.
Sticky pictures in a theme shape: You’ll need self-adhesive plastic (such a contact paper) and light-weight paper and materials in appropriate colors. Cut the self-adhesive paper into shapes (e.g., teddy bear, sun, heart, etc.), then provide the child(ren) with plenty of things in the right color to stick to it. Then stick the sticky shape to a piece of light-weight paper.