PILLOW WALK

Do you need a great game that will improve your toddler’s gross motor development?

This is a great motor development game, which involves walking on pillows. At first, this can be very difficult for a toddler and they might even get frustrated. However, we suggest turning on some music, scatter soft toys. some animal toys and add a bit of scenery and turn it into a game of getting to the other side. This is sure to greatly improve their attitude and soon you will all be having fun. Even the bravest little toddler is bound to fall every once and a while – but they will do so with a smile on their face. Keep encouraging, affirming and ensuring it is seen as a creative game with characters and scenery.

Benefit

This activity will really get your toddler’s leg muscles working in new ways. Walking on any uneven surface is great to improve gross motor development, but pillows, which are usually a little bigger and fluffier than most uneven surfaces, provide more of a challenge to your toddler and help gross motor development even more than another uneven surface could.

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The awesome thing about this gross motor game is that it takes literally no time and no money to prepare. As long as you have pillows (whether throw pillows, bed pillows, bean bags, or even couch cushions) then you are all set to play.

Get Creative

Change things up by adding some music to walk to, suggesting animals to walk like, and even sometimes rolling on the pillows instead of walking on them.

MUSIC AND MOVEMENT

Do you need a great game that will stimulate your toddler’s brain cells and bring joy and confidence?

Music provides a diverse, enjoyable, stimulating and sensory environment for children – fostering joy and confidence. Exposing our kids to a wide variety of sounds, textures, colours and musical experiences stimulates their brain cells and fosters joy and confidence – the same way it does for us.

Introduce Music and Movement to your toddler this holiday whether it be through dancing to music or turning an everyday household object into a music instrument. Toddler making a noise with any homemade instrument also teaches them cause and effect.

Benefit

More and more studies show a correlation between higher academic achievement with children who are exposed to music. Music simply stimulates parts of the brain that are related to reading, math, and emotional development. Music improves memory, builds confidence and teaches patience.

Whether banging, shaking or even throwing a home-made instrument or whether dancing to a song being played – movement is a key element in growth and development and music evokes movement.

Making DIY instruments from everyday items carries the additional benefit of activities like ‘treasure hunt’ and ‘arts and crafts’, so ensure you have more music integrated into their every-day exploring, discovery, learning and play this holiday.

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Whether it is a drum kit consisting of pots, pans, tins and hubcaps, a bottle cap tambourine or Bongo Tin Race Shakers. Whatever you and your little one use to make noise, music or rhythm – you are guaranteed to find 95% of the materials at home. If not – why not put together a shopping list and have a fun outing to find or buy any missing materials.

Get Creative

Anything can be turned into an instrument, here are a few other inspirational ideas for home-made instruments.

ACTIVE READING

Does your little-one not usually sit through a book…here are some ideas to make reading more interactive and fun?

Reading is a vital and valuable skill and it is not just learnt at school but requires vital building blocks from a young age. Toddlers learn about reading through everyday experiences with books. Simply through reading with adults, your toddler learns that books contain lots of interesting pictures and words and that stories show them worlds to explore.

When you stop and talk about the pictures, label objects on the page, and describe what they see, you are also promoting the child’s language development. As their language develops, your toddler will do these same things when they look at books. Getting them to sit and listen to a story is another thing entirely and so below we share a few tips on making reading time more active, involved and immersive.

Benefit

Toddlers who hear lots of lively, interesting talk are more likely to develop a rich vocabulary. They learn language best when adults make eye contact with them and talk about topics of interest to them. Your toddler’s language development is also supported when he hears his own words repeated back to him and when adults expand on what he says. Reading teaches toddlers that books are special, that they have a front and back and how to hold a book, this in turn builds confidence. Reading provides toddlers with ‘language’ such as storybook language, which they may use in everyday conversations e.g. This porridge is hot “I’m going to huff and i’m going to puff...” and as they grow reading will get incorporated into their fantasy play e.g. reading to their soft toys. A very important benefit of reading is that toddlers learn about the structure of stories from books. By reading your toddler a variety of books they learn that most stories contain the same components: a setting, the characters, a series of events that often lead to a problem and a character finds a solution to the problem. This both helps them understand new stories they hear but also later on helps them create their own stories.

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Books, books, books. The recipe for immersive reading time is simply a book, a large serving of imagination and a dash of acting skills such as pulling faces, strange accents and new voices. If you do not have enough kiddies books at home then join the local library and gain access to all the books you and your little one can dream of.

Get Creative

The easiest way to bring activity to reading is to select a book that includes some exercise. Example – Eric Carle’s “From Head to Toe“. It goes through the motions that different animals make, and encourages you to try it too. If your little one is too little to understand, then show them and have them copy you. Your toddler will have lots of fun and you might even get some exercise too. But any book can become an activity if you bring the story to life -by having you and your munchkin dress like the characters or simply by adding some creativity to the story and the portraying thereof.

ARTS AND CRAFTS

Even a busy toddler will always have time to make a mess. So why not turn ‘making a mess’ into an activity aka Arts & Crafts!

The trick with toddlers is to choose activities that focus on the process of creating the ‘art’ rather than the expectation of a set outcome. What works best with toddlers is making art bigger and it is important to try new materials and treat it as exploration or as a sensory activity. They are going to get messy either way so make it part of the journey and activity.

Young toddlers might not yet be able to wield a brush or crayon with precision but they always love making hand prints. Get creative and turn their hand prints into animals and objects. You can always pre-draw elements of the image and just have them place their foot or hand where required. They will feel part of the process, have loads of fun and you have a gorgeous image to display.

Benefit

Sensory play facilitates exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play, create, investigate and explore. Research shows that sensory play builds nerve connections in the brain’s pathways, which lead to the child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks. Sensory play supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills, and social interaction. This type of play aids in developing and enhancing memory. Sensory play is great for calming an anxious or frustrated child.

Resources

Depending on the art activities you and your little one prefer – the sky is the limit in terms of materials required. Some items however are always valuable – Magazines, Large Sheets/Rolls of Paper, Edible Paints, different textured materials, glue, toilet rolls, egg cartons etc.

Where possible try to engage as many senses as possible when doing arts and crafts with a toddler. So use various materials with different textures, use items that make a sound such as bubble wrap etc.

Get Creative

Here are some great ideas and instructions for art and craft activities for toddlers:

Make your own Birdfeeders – always a fun one as it links to the garden and comes with the added benefit of watching your creation in use by very excited birds.

Indoor Edible Sandbox – since taste is still one of a toddlers favourite senses why not make more art projects edible.

Painting with Nature – South African kids love the outdoors and all the interesting items they find there. So this winter why not bring some of the outdoors in and get creative. Collect pinecones, acorns etc. We suggest using edible paint however. CornFlour Edible Paint – Fun to make and even more fun to use. Fruit/Veggie Paints – less practical but 100% natural and edible. Or check out our Shaving Cream Bath Paint

ROCK ‘n ROLLING

Appreciate your child’s energy when they are  young, as I’m sure you wish you still had that much energy now when you’re older. As a mommy once told me “bees are busy but toddlers are even busier”. Busy is great as it is a necessary part of their learning journey. They need to discover, investigate, explore, ask, watch and ask why in order to learn. So if you have an active toddler then whenever you can just keep them moving. It is not only fun and healthy for you both but there are loads of gross and fine motor benefits as well as sensory benefits – to moving too.

Most of us do not need an excuse to Rock ‘n Roll but make it your goal to find every excuse possible to have your toddler Rocking ‘n Rolling. Get your toddler – hopping, skipping, rolling and jumping wherever it is safe and fun to do. Make going to bed or cleaning up a fun activity by having your toddler move like an animal to get there or get it done.

Benefit

Gross Motor Development is the movement of the body’s large muscles.  It acts as a foundation for fine motor development and is essential to all aspects of movement. Another benefit of rocking, rolling and moving in certain ways is that we all have 7 senses. Most  people know about the main 5  – taste, touch, smell, hear and see. But not many know about the other 2 – Vestibular (sense in inner-ear that helps with head position) and Proprioception (in joints which tells you where your body parts are in space). It is important to engage or activate each of the 7 sensory systems, so that they grow into one integrated sensory system.

Resources

This is the easiest, least resource heavy activity for anybody. It simply involves your ability to play like a child and think of every environment and obstacle through a child’s eyes. The amount of fun you can have just picking up your toddler and pretending they are a sack of potatoes or a scarf – is infinite – but do anything that engages their Vestibular and Proprioception senses.

Get Creative

The easiest way to keep your toddler moving in a variety of ways and manners (so as to activate new muscles and new senses) is to have them pretend to be different animals. This can be used when attempting to get them to go to bed, head to the bathroom for a bath or any everyday activity.

The Crab – Sideways on hands and feet, looking upward

Kangaroo – Jump on their legs, holding their hands in front of their chest

Rabbit – Jump on all four limbs, first hands then legs

Inch Worm – Stand with both hands and both feet on the floor and walk with the hands away from the feet and then bring feet closer to the hands

Donkey – Put hands on the floor and kick backwards with legs

Duck – Waddle in a squatting position with the hands clasped under the arms

Giraffe – With hands stretched high above the head

Elephant – Take big steps and pretend the arms are a trunk and a tail