In our signature class for toddlers aged 12-24m, we recognize that a one-year-old is not likely to sit through an entire class! Facilitated by our Early Childhood Developmental Specialist Elizabeth McKenzie, our Social Climbers class will get your toddler moving and socializing with peers.
Here, we’ve asked Elizabeth to share some of the tools and toys she loves for this class and how she employs them in the curriculum.
Toddlers are so fun and so BUSY! They are like little sponges- absorbing as much as they can from the world around them. For children ages 12-24 months, I always select toys that keep little hands well-occupied.
Wiwiurka's line of climbing equipment is fantastic for toddlers to practice pulling up, crawling, standing and climbing. Each piece can be used in more than one way so it can be adapted as your child grows. Learning to climb and navigate a structure is so important for developing gross motor skills, body awareness and problem solving. Most importantly, it builds your child's self-confidence and independence. It's fun to watch kids beam with pride after figuring out something new!
Wooden Bee Hive
A charming toy that allows practice with fine motor and visual-spatial skills. Kids can use their fingers to take the wooden bumblebees in and out of the compartments or practice using the tweezers.
Stacking Block Playset
Children at this age love to build. I love this sweet play set because it is simple and encourages symbolic play in addition to construction. This provides endless opportunities to foster language development, creativity and imagination.
Wooden Cutting Fruit
This is one of my go-to toys to grab when working with toddlers. It is also one of my favorite birthday presents to give! Toddlers are working on using both of their hands together, and cutting with a knife is a great way to practice that. In addition to the fine motor skills, this toy introduces matching and understanding "parts of a whole". I also find that kids just love this one. They can play with it forever!
Toddlers love to imitate routines from their day to day life. Functional play is an important precursor to pretend play, and this tea set is perfect for little ones to practice pouring, stirring and sharing with others. I love throwing a tea set in the bathtub. Sudsy bubbles make for a fun, sensory-rich tea party!
Toddlers are always on the move so it is no surprise that they love things that go! I use ball runs and car ramps frequently to allow children to work on hand-eye coordination, problem solving skills and turn taking. There are also many basic concepts to be learned while playing with toys like this one: STOP/GO, UP/DOWN, FAST/SLOW, etc.
There is something very enticing about opening doors to discover what is inside. A toy like this one allows children to learn to match colors, develop problem solving, and practice fine motor skills. I love the little set of keys used to open the doors. The fine motor skills required to insert and turn a key are the same skills that your child will use for handwriting and cutting with scissors later on. How cool is that?
I always tell parents to introduce simple wooden puzzles early on. You'd be surprised how quickly toddlers catch on with a little encouragement and a lot of practice. These puzzles have knobs which makes placing the pieces easier. Matching pictures and orienting the piece correctly encourage critical thinking and visual attention. Puzzles are also really great for working on receptive and expressive language skills!
Boys and girls alike love to play with baby dolls. It is important for children to learn empathy at an early age, and dolls/stuffed animals provide opportunity to nurture, show affection, use a gentle touch, and practice kind language. I love this particular set because the babies are culturally diverse and the soft dolls are the perfect size for toddler-sized hands to care for.
Books are by far my favorite teaching tool. They are portable, versatile and packed with endless possibilities! For 12-24 month olds, I look for books that are repetitive and predictable. Toddlers love to practice and master saying the same word or phrase over and over again, and they get a kick out of filling in the blanks. Got a toddler who seems to busy for books? Don't stress about the words on the page. Comment on pictures, ask questions, or let your child point out what he wants to talk about on each page. Oh, and don't be discouraged if your child takes a few laps around the room and comes back. That is what reading with this age group is all about!