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Infant - Month #31

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Sorting it all Out!

By Mary Perrin, edHelperBaby

  Developmental Milestones
           At this stage of development, your child might be able to sort items by shape, color, size, and maybe even by texture.  Due largely to prior experiences, she probably understands that dishes belong with her play kitchen and that her tools belong with the workbench.  Most likely you did not need to verbally teach her the relationships between these objects, but rather she has been able to learn how toys are organized by your example and her brain's natural ability to form the necessary connections.  In addition to classifying objects together, she will begin to establish a set way of organizing her personal belongings.

       Your child's ability to become self-sufficient with "I'll do it myself" statements is largely connected to her need for self control and her perception of how things should be classified, ordered, and/or placed in a particular manner.  Most likely, your child is not intentionally trying to defy your wishes but rather trying to define her personality.  If you have a strong-minded child who thrives on autonomy, some items on the following list might sound all too familiar.  Remember to pick your battles wisely.  She is simply learning how to become organized and take responsibility for herself.  Create a healthy balance between getting the results you desire and allowing her to express her spirited character.
  • Your child likes things to be a certain way, and she does not respond well to an object being moved or rearranged without her input.
  • She will take pride in how she has gotten herself dressed even though her clothes might not match and her shoes may be on the wrong feet.
  • She insists on brushing her own teeth, combing her own hair, and performing other hygienic tasks independently.
  • She becomes more persistent and begins to tell you how and when she'd like things done.
  • Her ability to play imaginatively begins to increase.


  How Your Life is Changing
           Provide your child with mental exercises to help foster the concept of classification without sending yourself into an emotional tailspin.  Set the foundation by creating a plan of action for the things that seem to cause the biggest power struggles between you and your toddler.  For example, if the way your child dresses herself drives you crazy, then a plan that incorporates one or all of these might be beneficial:
  • Gracefully and patiently teach her how to match colors, style, etc.  Use a baby doll or stuffed animal as her subject.  She is in charge of defining and creating a matching outfit, selecting outdoor play clothes, etc.
  • Hang her clothes out of reach if she tends to change her clothes too many times in one day.
  • You might attempt to lay out her clothes the night before so she wears what you intend but feels in control of dressing herself.  For an element of choice, place two small baskets within your child's reach with an outfit in each one and allow her to choose.
  • On days when you will be at home, let her experience the freedom of wearing a fancy dress or clothes from another season.  Call these days your "silly clothes day" so she understands that these clothes wouldn't be appropriate on a normal day.
  • Stand your child in front of the mirror or take a digital picture to allow her to see whether or not her clothes match.
  • Help her see reason by communicating openly about how to dress appropriately.  For example, how might she feel if she goes outside into eighty-five degree weather with long pants and her winter coat?


  Something Different Activity
           Picking up the entire house as it relates to cleaning and organizing the home might be an overwhelming task for an adult, let alone a toddler.  The following activity will assist in helping your child understand how and why things belong in a certain place around the home but on a much smaller scale.  Together you will be outlining the rooms of your home, cutting out pictures of common household objects from magazines, and categorizing them into the rooms where they belong.  Remember to discuss with your child the importance of handling scissors safely.

       Communication is an important element in this activity.  Thinking out loud will be the best support you can give your child during this lesson!  Explain to your child how you are organizing your ideas and why you are making the choices you are making.  Encourage your child to explain to you her thinking process.  If your child places an object in a room that does not seem appropriate to you, ask her to explain her logic and reasoning.  The placement of an object might be justified by her answer.

  • 3' x 5' sheet of butcher paper, backside of wrapping paper, or an unfolded brown grocery bag
  • Magazines
  • Child safe scissors
  • Dark colored crayon or marker
  • Clear tape

       Learning Process:
  1. Draw a cross section or blue print of your home on a sheet of butcher paper.  You may choose to draw a person or mark where you both are doing the activity with an X to help her better grasp the concept of scale and placement.  Tape the paper onto a wall where she can reach each corner of the diagram with ease.
  2. Together with your child, label each room of your house with crayon or marker.  Involving your child in this process will allow her to better understand visual models and concepts of scale and give her exposure to written language.
  3. Model the process by looking through a magazine to find a picture of a common household item.  For example, you might come across a picture of a couch.  Cut the picture out and place it in the family room section of your diagram.
  4. Switch roles.  You can allow her to flip through magazines as a free-for-all picture hunt, or you can ask her to find pictures for one room at a time; for example, you might ask her to find a picture of something you can find in a bathroom. Help her cut out the pictures she chooses.  Then ask her to tape the pictures up onto her house.  Remember to ask her to explain her thinking as she proceeds with each picture and its placement.

       Tips and Tricks
  • Tearing the pictures might be easier than cutting.
  • Use painters' tape to hold paper on wall to prevent paint from peeling off when removed.
  • Allow your child to place items in the wrong room.  Then when finished, go back with a crayon and ask her to look carefully at the items in each room and circle the ones that do not belong.
  • After she finds a picture she wants to include, tear the entire page out.  Use the dark colored crayon to draw a box around the object.  Hold both sides of the paper tightly while she cuts on the lines.
  • Double-sided tape would work great for this activity.
  • Leave it up on the wall for a week or so after you are finished.  She may want to come back to add more items or to rearrange the items she previously placed on her diagram.
  • Take a field trip of your house prior to and after the activity so she can better understand what she's done.  After the activity, she will be able to compare the pictures she found with the actual household items.


From a Parent's Perspective
           I introduced the activity to my daughter, and while I created the outline of our house and got it taped to the wall, she "played" with the scissors and tape.  I have found that if I want her to focus on a specific learning concept with novel materials that I must first allow her time to investigate them.  She knew the purpose for the tape and she knew what it was supposed to look like once it was used, but she was not sure how to actually use the tape to get it from point A to point B.  She knew that one side was sticky and the other was smooth, and after a few minutes of playing with the tape, she was able to get it figured out.  She was very quiet, but in those quiet moments I knew she is thinking very loudly.

       Once she was able to understand how all the materials would work together and the process for which she would "organize" her house, she became very independent.  Most of the pictures she found were related to things she had in her own room.  Her room became so full of pictures that she began to rearrange them and even moved some of them out and into the playroom because she felt it was too cluttered.  This activity definitely provided her with a real life analogy of what we do when things begin to hinder our ability to move and function freely.  Since she is still beginning to develop the fine motor skills to use scissors effectively, it helped to mark her lines around the pictures with the crayon.  Instead of marking all lines of the rectangle, I only marked one line at a time, held the sides of the picture, and prompted her to start and stop.  She began to manage the scissors on her own after ten minutes.  Then she began to mark the lines and cut the pictures herself.  She began to tear the paper with her fingers when her little hands got tired of cutting.  I listened to her carefully as she decided which pictures to cut.  "Mommy, I found coffee for the kitchen.  You and daddy like coffee.  It is yummy to you."  Then she began to think outside the box, or shall I say house.  "Mommy, where is the garden on the wall?  I found tomatoes." At that point we began adding on to our diagram to include the garden and other places.

       Also, this activity was diverse enough to entertain my toddler and my school-aged child.  They performed the task at different levels but were still able to provide one another with encouragement and support when necessary.  My kindergartner not only found pictures, but he found and constructed words for household items.  He cut out the letters for the word "jeans" and taped the word onto the closet.  He was also very helpful in defining vocabulary for my toddler.  When she pondered a picture of a rug in a magazine, he grabbed her by the hand and led her into her bedroom to show her what one actually was.  Then he proceeded to walk her to the bathroom, foyer, and kitchen explaining each one's purpose.  But, of course, in the end, she placed the rug in her bedroom with the other fifteen items she'd already found.


Movies for You and Your Two Year Old Child
By Amber Kleefeld, edHelperBaby

           Sitting through a feature length movie can be quite difficult and unnecessary for a two year old child.  Conversely, shorter, child-centered movies can be tedious for adults.  Try the following scenes from these movies.  They will entertain your child, and you will enjoy them as well.
  1. "Mei's Discovery" (Scene 4) in My Neighbor Totoro.  Young Mei follows a tiny forest spirit through a secret wooden passage to meet Totoro.  Your toddler will identify with the character as she makes this awesome discovery and then shares it with her family.
  2. "The Lonely Goatherd" (Scene 27) and "Do-Re-Mi" (Scene 19) in The Sound of Music.  Puppets, bicycles and lots of singing make these scenes make your toddler want to get up and dance.
  3. "A Spoonful of Sugar" (Scene 7) in Mary Poppins. Just snap your fingers, and the toys put themselves away!  This might be a fun scene to listen to while you are cleaning up the living room.
  4. "First Day of School" (Scene 3) in Finding Nemo. Some parts of this movie can be scary for a two year old but watching the interaction among the young sea creatures will be something with which your toddler can identify.

So Far Away
By Amber Kleefeld, edHelperBaby

           It is quite common nowadays for young couples to start their families far from their hometowns because of job availability or just a desire for adventure.  This can give the new family a great deal of freedom to create their own traditions and carve their own niche in the world.  However, many young families still wish to have close ties to the grandparents and extended family of their children, and with hundreds or thousands of miles of separation, it can be a challenge to cultivate a meaningful relationship.  Try the following ideas to help your young child bridge the gap.
  • Guestbook:  When a relative comes to visit, have them write a letter to your child in a blank journal.  Get one without lines, so that family members can draw pictures the child can recognize.  Read the entries to your child every few weeks or even make the book available for your child to look through as they wish.
  • Mini Photo Albums:  If months pass by without seeing relatives, you may worry the child will forget their faces.  Many photo sites online have an affordable way to create brag books from downloaded pictures.  You can also buy a small album and print your own photos at home.  Let your child keep the albums with their books and do not fret when they become well worn from use.
  • Web Cams:  For about thirty dollars, you can purchase a web cam to use with your PC.  Some computers may also have built in cameras.  Use a program, such as Windows Messenger, with interactive and colorful applications to keep your child in front of the screen when your relatives call.  Finger puppet shows and story time are other activities that may entertain your child during a web cam conversation.
  • Calling:  Many phones have an application that allows you to match a picture with a phone number.  This makes it easy for your child to recognize a family member and dial them up!  Make sure, however, that you take part in this conversation as well.  You can prompt your child to tell about a new toy or an exciting trip and serve as translator when the conversation gets confusing.  Also, consider using speaker phone so everyone can talk together and your child can have maximum movement freedom.


Favorite Movie Edits
By Amber Kleefeld, About my child Aidan Casimir

           When Aidan sits for more than thirty minutes in front of the television, the rest of his day is shot.  He is less likely to want to go out for a ride or to engage in quiet play.  However, we do feel like he can enjoy and learn things from some programs in small doses.   When Aidan watches television, we like to sit with him.  We talk about the characters and the choices they make. So that he is not always watching the same certain talking train or furry red monster, we found clips of movies we enjoyed that Aidan would like too.  When we watch scenes from Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music, Aidan dances around with us and sings the words.  We can also throw in movies from when we were younger and just edit out the scary parts.  For example, Aidan knows The Little Mermaid without the Sea Witch and even though they are not so bad in the end, he does not watch the sharks in Finding Nemo.  We figure that Aidan is getting a balance of television and human interaction plus we are not tortured in the process!

Wanna Talk!
By Amber Kleefeld, About my child Aidan

           Each morning when our son comes into our room, the first words after "Good Morning!" are "Wanna Talk!"  Early in our son's life, we set in motion the habit of calling grandparents in the wee small hours of the morning.  We are lucky to have a three hour time difference that allows us to lie in bed, while our son chatters to the lucky relative.  During the day, our son also has the option of using a web cam to talk to his family.  We call each Wednesday night during family dinner, and Aidan can dance around and sing songs with his cousin or send animated pictures and laugh with his grandmother.  These links to our family help ease the ache of separation, and they build a strong bond that is reinforced when family members visit.


     Group Games Toddlers will Love - Part 1

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