Friday, September 11, 2009

"Touchy" Toddler Activities

Toddlers are little investigators: they like to climb, touch things, make noises, & have fun (and tantrums)! They are learning through their senses. I am listing some fun activities for toddlers to do that help develop their sense of touch (AKA tactile sense):
  • Put small toys and trinkets within containers that have lids. I save the used wipee containers, then label it as toys. Next, I find "odds and ends" toys that are too large to be swallowed or choked on and stick them in the container. This is often where Happy Meal (R) toys end up! It is also where party favors from birthday parties end up! Specific toys that may end up in the container are: miniature plastic figurines such as army men or dinosaurs, mini maraccas, small balls, rattles, slinkies, fuzzy dice, small stuffed animals, and other random toys that no longer seem to have a home. My kids love to rummage through closed containers.
  • Home-made edible playdough. There are many good recipes out there on the Web. Common ingredients include: flour, peanut butter, koolaid (R) powder, and oatmeal
  • Helping to make cookies: use the rolling pin and cookie cutters. Kids love this. Someone bought me a box of over 200 cookie cutters which contains numbers, letters, shapes, and holiday characters and I use these for cookies as well as with playdough
  • Sandbox and water table outside. I didn't want a sandbox on the ground, so I bought two water tables and use one of them for sand. In the water, I put water toys such as fish that get squeezed or boats that float. In the sand, I leave a small shovel as well as plastic and rubber animals and fuzzy balls for my kids to search through
  • WikkiStix(R) or other candle-wick type sticks. These are fun to make things with, and aren't really for younger toddlers, but once a child is near 3 years or older, he should enjoy these. The best thing is that they can be used over and over again, because they are flexible and then can go back straight again
  • Finger painting. This is my all time favorite! Spread some newspaper outside on the sidewalk or inside on a table, and let the kids smear the paint around until they have beautiful artwork
  • Rice, macaroni, or bean containers with small items hidden within them. You can put large spoons or tongs in the container for the toddler to use as a search tool. Common items I hide in these mixtures are the same toys I would put out in a sandbox.
  • Spaghetti art: Cook spaghetti noodles and add a bit of oil, then a bit of food coloring. It sticks quite well to construction paper. The oil is necessary so that the noodles can be pulled apart. On the paper, noodles can become hair on a person's head or fur on an animal...what fun artwork!
  • Pudding or shaving cream art. Smear it on a cooking sheet and draw shapes and other things with a pointed index finger. Then rinse off, of course of using the pudding, you can also lick your fingers to help clean up!
  • Fidget toys: I keep small little toys for my kids to fiddle with during car rides, while waiting at a restaurant, or while sitting in a grocery cart. Party favors as well as stretchy rubber toys make good fidgets.

If you notice that a child is sensitive to touching things, then do not force him to participate. Think of a way to alter the activity to where he will think it is fun. For instance, if he dislikes digging through sand with his bare hands, then give him tongs. Or if he dislikes finger painting, give him a paint brush. Maybe with familiarity and repetition, the child may soon want to participate in the "feely" activity. If you feel that the child's disinterest in touching things is abnormal, then check out for "red flags" for sensory processing problems. If other symptoms are then noted after looking at this list, the child may benefit from an occupational therapy evaluation.

1 comment:

  1. The tactile sense plays a major role in the development of fine-motor skills and pre-handwriting abilities. For other sensory activities that contribute to a young kid's imagination visit this site