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Toddler - Week #62

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Week 62: Developing Imagination

By Meg Leonard, edHelperBaby

           As your 62-week-old's understanding of the world around her increases, her imagination will begin to develop. Play is a critical role in your child's development. In addition to being fun, play provides your baby with the opportunity to explore new ideas and concepts in a safe way. She develops many different skills through play - from social and emotional skills to problem solving skills and cognitive growth.


Playing to Learn
           There may be a misconception by some that play is just a waste of time or a way to keep your child from getting into other mischief. These ideas are simply not true. Your baby is constantly learning through observation. When learning a new skill, how do you test to see if you have mastered it? You try it out! Your baby is doing the same thing when he imitates you while he plays. He sees Mommy stirring something in a pot on the stove. Soon, he is mimicking her and waving his arm in a circular motion at meal time. He may adjust the speed with which he twirls his arm to see how it feels. If you imitate him, it may cause him to shriek with laughter. He is thrilled to see you acknowledge his actions with imitation of your own.


           This week, encourage your baby to use his imagination. Help your baby learn to pretend. There are many different ways that you can do this. You can encourage the pretending this week. Use a toy phone or any suitable object and pretend to phone a family member or friend. Use a toy vacuum cleaner to vacuum the floor or a toy lawnmower to mow the lawn. Another option is to pay close attention to your baby when she plays. You may find that she is already pretending when she plays.


A Classic Vocabulary Building Book
    Book: Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever by Richard Scarry
       You might be thinking, "Didn't I have a Richard Scarry book as a kid?" It's possible! This book was originally published in 1963 with a revised edition coming out in 1980. In my opinion, it is just as good today as it was many years ago! Each of the large pages contains a drawing based on a central theme. Many of the objects are labeled with their name. There is a short paragraph also included on each page. This offers some explanation of the topic and also gives older children a particular object to look for on the page.

       The uses for this book are endless. Before a visit to the doctor's office, you could use the page entitled "Keeping Healthy" to go over some of the things that your baby might see. If you live in a city, you could use the page entitled "A Drive in the Country" to show your baby some items that aren't as familiar. You could pair it with "In the City" and see what your baby recognizes from his everyday life. There is even a section titled "The Baby" that could be used to introduce your little one to a younger baby. This inexpensive book would be a great addition to any child's library.


Real Life with Baby
           Mary loves anything with buttons. The phone is a constant source of interest for her. She loves all types: cell phones, cordless phones, and the traditional phone with a cord. Other people have picked up on her love of the phone. For her first birthday, she received three toy phones of her own! So, Mary also has a cell phone, cordless phone, and corded phone. She plays with all of them.

       Even though I have witnessed Mary playing with her phones, I wasn't sure if she was using them to "talk" to someone. Since both sets of Mary's grandparents live at least two hours away, she often is asked to talk on the phone. This usually just results in her pressing buttons or squirming off of our laps. She smiles at the voice on the other line, but I don't think she connects it to a particular person yet. I decided to see what would happen for this week's activity if we called Daddy at work using one of her toy phones.

       I got Mary's play cordless phone and told her that we were going to call Daddy. She immediately put the phone to her ear and smiled. Then she handed the phone to me. We both talked to Daddy before she set the phone down. I guess she does know how the phone is used! At different times during the week, she would pick up one of her phones and hold it to her ear. Mary has also discovered the corded phone that I keep by the side of my bed. After she knocked it off the hook several times, I finally unplugged it from the wall. Mary loves to sit with the real phone and push buttons. She always holds the receiver to her ear, too.

       Interestingly, there were several opportunities this week where I observed Mary demonstrating imitation at meal time. While these aren't play times, she showed me that she is watching and learning at all times and wants to practice what she observes others doing. After dinner one night, she indicated that she wanted the container with Cheerios that was sitting on the table. When I handed her the closed container, she turned it upside down and shook it, just as I do when I'm giving her some "o's." She smiled at me and didn't seem upset that nothing was coming out of the container. She seemed satisfied by making the motion of dumping out Cheerios.

       At a different meal, Mary became very agitated when she was eating. I offered her more food, milk, and Cheerios. None of these soothed her. I was also eating at the same time and noticed that she was looking at my fork. We haven't introduced her to the fork yet, but she did receive a toddler sized fork recently. On the day she received it, she carried it around for a little while. I asked her if she wanted a fork and she nodded. I got out her Big Bird fork and that satisfied her. She busied herself with trying to put baked beans on it. She tried laying them on the tines and also spearing them with the tines. Mary was playing with the fork in an effort to see how it could work to feed her. Evidently, she has watched others use forks often enough that she knows that it is a tool for eating. She didn't try to put any beans in her mouth using the fork, but she showed that she understands how and why it is used.

       Mary loves Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever. I thought she might sit still for one or two pages. Instead she requested at least four different pages and stared thoughtfully at each page as I named the objects. The book really held her attention. The front and back covers also include labeled pictures, so we read those together even after the book was closed. I would definitely put this book down as one of her favorites!


Get Out and Play!
           As grown-ups, we may have lost sight of the notion that it is important to play. There are bills to pay, children to raise, and countless other responsibilities. This week, take time to play. Define for yourself what it means to "play." Try to approach your playtime with the same enthusiasm that your 62-week-old does. What are the results? You may be surprised by how good it feels to play and even want to make it a part of your weekly routine.


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