Touch for Texture
Gather objects with different textures, such as a furry stuffed animal, a satin pillowcase, corduroy pants, a burlap bag, and a velvet pillow. As the baby looks at and feels the objects, describe the texture using words like smooth, soft, and bumpy.
What's in the Box?
Put three or four items in a shoebox Make sure that the items are safe for the baby to explore and to mouth (rubber duck, soft face cloth, large rattle). Give the box to the baby and show her how to take the lid off the box. As she takes each item out of the box, name the item and describe what it looks like and what it does.
Hide and find
The mobile infant who is practicing crawling skills will enjoy playing hide and find with you. Show the baby a teddy bear and then hide it behind you. Encourage the baby to find the bear. Give hints if needed by leaving a part of the bear peeking out where the baby can see it. Repeat with other toys or objects as long as the baby is interested. As the baby's skills grow, make the activity more challenging by hiding the objects further away so the baby will need to pull himself up to grasp them.
Bye, Bye Puppet
Older infants are very interested in who is coming and going and enjoy waving. Reinforce the words "hi" and "bye" with a puppet. Have the puppet wave and say "hi." Wave back and encourage the infant to wave to the puppet. Say "bye" and wave to the puppet as you put it behind your back.
Big and Little
Work with one or two toddlers at a flannel board using felt pieces that are pairs of the same object, one big and one little. Place the pieces on the flannel board and use the words "big" and "little" to describe the objects. Create short, simple stories about the felt pieces. Leave the felt pieces out for toddlers to use to create their own stories.
Gather several props, such as cars, animals, dolls, and toy furniture, that are central to the plot of a story. Read the story to a small group and use the props at the appropriate times to help tell the story. Put the storybook and the props in a box and leave them in the story corner so that children can use the props and retell the story on their own.
What's for Snack?
Find pictures in magazines or draw pictures of foods that will be served for snack. At snack time, ask the toddlers to "read" the picture and tell you what they are having for snack that day. Reinforce the picture symbol with the real food. Identify the food by name as it is served and talk about what it looks and tastes like.
Take Me Along
Toddlers love to gather and clay things. Tell toddlers that you want to fill a basket with special things. Look around the room and describe something that you see. Give hints and encouragement to help them locate what you described. When your basket is full, take the items out one at a time and ask toddlers to name each item. Help expand their language by responding in full sentences. ("I found a teddy bear in the basket.") End the game by asking toddlers, "Where does this go?"