Infants & Toddlers/Activities: Activities That Promote Curiosity & Choice Making
- Grades: Early Childhood, PreK–K
Since young babies cannot move toward an interesting toy, place infants on a soft , warm blanket and arrange interesting toys just far enough so that they can stretch their fingers and grasp the toys.
Create a soft yarn ball and use duct tape to hang it from the ceiling on a long piece of yarn. Position a young baby (who has learned to swipe at toys) just underneath the yarn ball where he can bat it and watch it swing in the air.
Provide rattles and other shake-shake toys for babies. They will be curious to hear the interesting sounds made as they shake the rattles. Babies older than 6 months, often love to tear and rip. Old newspapers are good for ripping. Some suppliers have newspaper without print so that babies' hands remain ink-free!
Provide squeezable play dough to arouse babies' pleasure in tactile discovery. Be sure to watch carefully. At this age, many items go into the mouth. You will need to re-focus baby on squeezing the play dough and pounding it, rather than tasting it.
Creeping babies love to pad after iridescent bubbles. Blow lots of bubbles for babies. You will help their stretching, reaching, eye-hand coordination attempts, as well as satisfy their curiosity about how to catch those slippery, floating bubbles that feel so wet on the hands.
Because toddlers can use their newfound skills to satisfy curiosity, you will need to make sure the environment is safe. Toddlers can quickly drag a chair over, climb onto the chair, and then climb onto a high table top. Provide lots of safe climbing experiences to satisfy their need to explore.
Offer toddlers "causality" toys. Show them how the Jack-in-the-box works by slowly turning the handle until Jack pops up. First, children may want to show you how dexterous and determined they are by trying to work the toy alone. Let them. But do not let toddlers get too frustrated. Notice how some little ones have patience when they try to make a toy work. Others get frustrated very easily when their curiosity is not satisfied. Individualize your tempo as you decide when and how to demonstrate the workings of a toy that has aroused a toddler's curiosity.
Toddlers are curious about bodies as well as toys. While taking the necessary safety precautions, provide mirrors at floor level. Have a toddler lie full length on the floor. Let him squirm and bend so that he gets a good idea of how his body looks as he twists and wiggles it.
Curious about a worm she has dug up in the dirt in the play yard, a toddler may want to play with it. Encourage curiosity as long as the child is safe. Because little children are so curious, you will want to have only non-poisonous plants in the classroom. Poinsettia leaves and beautiful, but dangerous if chewed. Choose plants that are safe for children.
Offer choice that are simple for toddlers but do not tax their ability to choose. You may ask whether a toddler wants juice or milk, whether she wants to sleep with her head at this end of the cot rather than the other end, whether she'd like to start drawing with a blue or a red crayon. There are so many times in school when the toddler must obey the rules of the classroom (such as "no hitting, no biting, no kicking"). It will make life easier if you think creatively and choose opportunities to offer little ones "choices" they can handle. These choices should be safe or nutritious for her and comfortable for you. When offered too many choices, some children grow bewildered, cranky, and even demanding. Offer choices in doses that will help toddlers grow in maturity rather than frustration.