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Toddler - Week #61

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Week 61: Manipulating Objects

By Meg Leonard, edHelperBaby

           As your 61-week-old's dexterity improves, you may find him manipulating objects to find out just exactly how they work. He may study a wide variety of objects and try to figure out how they fit together. He will turn an object over and over in an attempt to figure out how it works or carefully climb onto furniture to get a closer look at something interesting. As he gets stronger, he will spend time testing out his physical abilities. Make sure to monitor his activities closely. He will still readily put everything in his mouth. From a week old dried pea to a cracked robin's egg shell to a new vegetable, your 61-week-old still uses all of his senses when confronted with a new thing.


Manipulating Objects
           Your 61-week-old baby has learned the adage "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!" If he can't open a door the first time he tries, you are likely to see him returning to the same door at a different time to see if he can master it this time. He is learning about trying different methods to solve a problem. If he can't get his toy frog into a cup, he may try to squish a ball into the same cup to see if it fits. Not long ago, he would have moved on to another activity if he was unsuccessful with the first one. Now, he knows that he can try another way and see if it works. This is a great time for your baby to experiment.


           Take some similar household objects, such as plastic containers, that are different sizes and see if your baby can match them. You can have her match the lid to the container or see if she can stack one container inside the other. Show her what you want her to do and then stand back. Let her manipulate the items on her own. Step in only if she becomes extremely frustrated. Allow her the time to figure out how these items work.


A Uniquely Shaped Book
    Book: Things That Grow by A Snapshot Book
       In keeping with the theme of manipulating objects, this book's unique shape will be perfect for little fingers. Things That Grow has notches cut along the right side of the book so that you can easily turn to a specific section. On the notched part of the page, a picture is shown that corresponds to the topics of that page. For example, the "fruit" section has a picture of a strawberry on the notch. The "tree" section has a picture of a tree.

       This is a vocabulary book rather than a story book. Your 61-week-old can choose which section she would like to hear by selecting the notch. You can show her how the notch helps to find the page she is looking for. The brightly colored photos would be fun to look at during any season of the year - as a reminder of warmer weather in winter or as preparation for spring and early summer.


Real Life with Baby
           I thought this seemed like an interesting activity to try with Mary. In the past week, she has become much more adventurous. She is climbing almost everything! She is also becoming much more adept at figuring out how things work. She will sit and work with something, concentrating deeply, until she figures it out.

       I brought out three sets of plastic containers with their lids. Each container was a different size. I started with the 1/2 cup size and showed Mary how to put the lid on. She was able to get the lid on, and then she indicated that she wanted me to take it off. I showed her how to take the lid off, and then put it back on before giving it back to her. I wanted to see if she could take it off on her own. After less than a minute, she had the lid off. I could tell she was pleased with herself. She busied herself with putting the lid on and taking it off for a few minutes.

       Mary later dropped both the container and the lid and moved onto something else. A few minutes later, she came back to the lid and container. She attempted to put the lid back on the container, but the lid was now upside down and wasn't fitting. Mary tried to cram the lid on the container several times while it was upside down. Eventually, I showed her how to flip the lid over and then she easily put it on.

       As the week progressed, Mary continued to show an interest and have success with the 1/2 cup container. She did not show any interest in any of the other containers. Maybe it is too soon to expect the newly acquired skill of lid-matching to transfer to other containers. However, I did watch her carefully as she explored some new toys at Grandma's house. Mary was enthralled with a little teapot with a removable lid. She carried it around for about an hour, taking the lid off and putting it back on. At times, she would try to put it on sideways. When it didn't fit, she would ask for help or try to get it on again. In this case, she used her problem solving skills to get what she wanted.

       Mary really liked Things That Grow. She really enjoys being outdoors, so that may be why she liked this book so much. Mary liked the notched sides as well. We read the entire book through once during our first reading, and then she pointed to different things on the notches. I would then reread the section she pointed to and she watched carefully as I named each thing that grew. This book passed the Mary-test. It didn't end up on the floor at all!


Enhancing Your Own Spatial Skills

       As your 61-week-old enhances his spatial skills, take the opportunity to sharpen your own. You can use the above link to download some logic puzzles that involve using your spatial skills. Have fun with these while your baby sleeps or while he works on a puzzle of his own.

       If logic puzzles aren't your thing, you may want to practice your spatial skills in a different way. If you are tired of the arrangement of the furniture in one of your rooms, find the time to do something about it this week. You may want to use graph paper and chart out your move before you attempt it. You may also want to dig right in and start moving the furniture without pre-planning. If you are looking for a smaller task, you could rearrange a closet or drawer so that it is more user-friendly. Take advantage of this week's spatial focus to make an improvement to some facet of your life.


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