We’ve gone from newborn, baby to full out toddler! And a growing, active toddler needs to be kept VERY busy otherwise there is way too much room for destruction (read: crayons on the wall, toilet paper rolls pulled, clean clothes put in the sink to “wash”, folded clothes unfolded). The last year has been full of so many changes for both Toddler S and our family. The first big milestone was when Toddler S went from being mobile to full out walking. And from the wobbly, new walker phase he went to running, climbing and jumping in the blink of an eye! Our activities changed so much as he become more and more mobile. And as he became more and more mobile, I was becoming more and more immobile with my twin pregnancy! When Toddler S turned the big T-W-O, I was in the 3rd trimester of my pregnancy and keeping up with his “montessori” activities was definitely challenging. We were on two different energy levels. He was ready to run the world, while all I wanted to do was sit on the couch since gravity (and two babies) were really weighing me down. Despite our extreme energy levels, we did try to keep him busy with activities that were age appropriate. The key to keeping up with a toddler while being pregnant (with twins) was to keep things simple, easy to clean up, and ideally we tried to do things that allowed me to be stationary since it helped save me some energy.
In his room – Normally, I would rotate a 2-4 toys for him every week or two but I was definitely slacking on this. To accommodate for the aging toy options in his room, we started a new routine. Before nap/bedtime we started having him pick out a toy/activity to take to his room. This way when he woke up, he had something new to play with and it gave him something to look forward to. He plays in his room mostly post-nap time and first thing in the morning after waking up for the day.
In our living room – Similar to his room, his living room toy collection has not been well rotated the last few months. In fact, the living room started looking more like a toy store with way too many options often resulting in a tornado of toys everywhere. This has not been inline with the montessori setup we were striving for. So before the babies were born, it was on my “to-do” list to clear away some of his old toys that he hasn’t really “played” with in awhile.
Despite the mess in our “montessori” type environment, we have been successful at encouraging Montessori type activities and philosophy in what we do with him. We still continue to focus on the following areas as we do things at home or when we go out: Sensory Play, Fine Motor Skills, Life Skills & Developmental activities.
Below are some of the things that have a part of our day from when he was about 18 months, others we started more recently. Whether you have an Here are some of the things we have begun doing with our energetic two year old. I’m looking forward to evolving this list especially since we will be integrating toddler and infant activities later this year!
Sensory & Fine Motor Skills:
Coloring/Painting – Using his imagination there has been a lot of drawings of alligators, cats, dogs (in the form of lines, circles)
Glueing – playing with icky sticky glue has been very exploratory, he wasn’t a fan of touching the glue until I put it all over his hands (by accident).
Zipping – zipping and unzipping bags
Transferring water/grains – Transferring things from spoons to bottles, from one glass to another glass requires a lot of concentration and is so much fun for him. Our favorite items are still beans, grains and water. Hoping as the weather warms up we can add some sand to his water/sand table.
Buckles – he loves fastening the buckles on his booster seat, I’m hoping he starts showing interest in buckling his carseat too, I could use a hand there!
Cooking – from rolling roti’s, to mixing dough, to pressing the buttons on the blender, he loves providing a helping hand in the kitchen
Laundry – he is a pro adding the detergent, throwing clothes into the washer, and pulling them out of the dryer. He tries to fold his cloth table mat in halves, but usually it ends up in a roll. Hoping to practice some of our folding skills in the coming weeks.
Sorting beans – he loves to play with beans and now he enjoys sorting them by size, color or type of beans
Putting laundry in the washer & transferring them into the dryer
Putting away dishes in the lower cabinets
pants – we’re still working on this but he is able to get the front part up, but not quite the back
socks – Putting socks on is still a big challenge, but a great exercise for his little fingers. However, taking them off is pure fun!
Shoes – Taking off various types of shoes has been successful but we’re still struggling to put them on our own
Spray bottle – This is a fun and productive activity. He likes spraying different spots on the floor and wiping it with a rag. Squeezing those spray bottles is no easy task for those tiny hands!
Picking the leafs off of Methi (Fenugreek) and Cilantro – this fine action is fun and also allows for sensory play as well (plus I get some work done!)
Time/Day – he tries to tell us what time it is by reading off the numbers on a digital clock of the oven. This has been a great way of telling him when the clock says 8:00 we will go up for bed. He also makes references to different times of the day and where we are on his schedule. For example he’ll say at 7PM it’s time for Toddler S to eat dinner and at 8PM it’s time for Toddler S to sleep. He also makes similar references for the days of the week. We started talking about the days of the week by telling him, on Mondays the gardner comes, on Thursdays we go to the libray, on Fridays we go to the museum, on Saturdays Daddy is home, on Sundays we go to Swadhyay. He now will recite the days in the correct order and say what outing is associated to it. It was a great gradual way of teaching him the concept of time.
Train tracks – assembling a train track requires some creativity and strategy. Toddler S loves to build different types of paths with tunnels and slopes. It looks easier than it is. Watching a 2 year old figure out to hold up a bridge or connect the right pieces is amazing. This has been one of those activities where it’s easy to play for him but the real development is observing him and watching his creativity in using the various parts of the train tracks which would otherwise be outside of our imagination.
Books, books, books – He still LOVES reading and has memorized almost all of his favorite books. He also recognizes some of the key words in some books as well such as “Toot toot”, “ooo, eee, haaa, mmmm”, “zoom zoom”, “bus”, “oops”, “diaper”. He is also recognizing letters in his Gujarati books which has been really fun to watch. They learn so quickly at this age!
Colors – Since he knows all his colors in gujarati, we’ve moved on to learning some words in Spanish.
Alphabet – Before he turned 2 years old, he was familiar with the Gujarati alphabet. We continue to draw them, recite them, talk about them, and find them in his Gujarati books.
Numbers – By the time he turned 2 he was comfortably recognizing and saying his numbers in gujarati. 2.5 he is also able to recite his numbers 1 to 10 in Telegu and Spanish. We now use playing cards to make sequences and providing some visuals to numbers! He also has recently shown an interest in reading the time on the digital clock.
Puzzles – At 2.5 years we have mastered floor puzzles with up to 45 pieces. For about 2 months, all he wanted to do was puzzles.
Memory – We tried playing memory with some felt cards but he was not too interested in it. He preferred flipping open all of the cards and matching them. But it was a great way to teach him how to take turns.
Pretend Play – Even before we got his play kitchen, he was already interested in “cooking” me some of his favorite foods. He also liked laying out a bunch of bowls and cups and pretend to fill them for all of his friends. We got him his play kitchen, right after he turned 2, and initially he did not really know what to do with it but after a few months he started using it to prep his food, organize his kitchen items and do the dishes. It’s neat to see him mimic what he sees us do around the house whether it’s kitchen play, vacuuming or having a conversation into the remote control because he’s “talking” on the phone.
Park – He has definitely reached new heights in climbing, Running, Jumping, Balance. He will walk on lines, balance on beams and climb on the structures in the park so confidently. It was hard for me to see him do this so comfortably since I hadn’t spent much time with him at the park in the last few months of my pregnancy. I went from spotting him and following him on everything to him doing it all completely on his own with minimal spotting.
Backyard – he still enjoys collecting rocks and splashing water in his water table. Now he has enjoys kicking a ball around or finding new roads for his toy cars.
Shopping – Our other outdoor adventures were limited the last few months but he still is fun to go shopping with. Even though I carry my list with me, I tell him 2 to 3 items from my list to remember and we use this as our activity when I need his cooperation for a quick trip. It’s a good memory game!
Walks – most days we only have time for a quick walk around our neighborhood which is a great time for me to catch up with my little guy. We talk about the different cars (he recognizes many of the symbols or shapes of the cars like “hotan mama’s beemer, dukka masi’s prius and other van gaadis”), colors of the trees, listen to the sounds or look for bugs!
Museum – We got an annual pass to the Children’s Discovery museum and boy was it worth the money! We had a weekly trip to the museum with a few of Toddler S’s buddies. He looked forward to this every week and engaged in a variety of activities at the museum from arts & crafts, free play, sand table, water play, story time, outdoor play and so much more all in one place! We generally got there at 10 or 10:30AM, had our lunch there and came home in time for nap. It was a perfect routine and I miss that time with Toddler S, it’s been almost 6 months since we’ve made it back. The Montessori aspect to this was really just allowing him to explore and navigate not only the various things at the museum but also allowing him to interact with other children. This social setting required him to share space, take turns, and even learn how to resolve conflict with other children. It was very tempting for me to hover over him and be his personal shield from the big kids, but part of his developmental process was exposure to various age groups and being able to communicate and navigate through some of these challenges.
If you’ve got a 2 year old, I’m hoping you find something fun to do from all the various things we’ve been up to! What are some of your favorite things to do with your toddlers? We’re always looking for new things to do and would love to add to our list of fun and easy to clean up activities to do with Toddler S (and for the twins in a few more years!).