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Toddler - Week #94

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Your 22-month-old toddler (week 94)

By Shelley Feldman, edHelperBaby

Let's Play
           Playing remains one of the best ways for your 22-month-old toddler to learn about the world, and besides being a lot of fun, it is an essential part of growing up.  Play teaches your toddler cause-and-effect, while learning how to make their bodies cooperate with their minds.  It is also a great way to learn about socialization, sharing, and taking turns (although that may still take a little while).

       Around month 22, it's time to start trying out a few new toys like snap beads, Play-Doh, or clay, especially now that dexterity is improving every day.  Your toddler will still love to return back to his old favorites like blocks, ring toys, shape sorters though, so don't put them in the back of the closet just yet.

       Activities that encourage your toddler to use precise finger and wrist movements are perfect this month, as they not only encourage his fine motor development, but also aid in building "teamwork" between his mind and hands.

       Various art activities will also promote fine motor development, so now is also the time to make them a part of your toddler's every day routine.  Crayons, paper, coloring books, paints and stickers are not only simple activities, they are also guaranteed to hold your toddler's attention just long enough for you to cook dinner and possibly throw a load of laundry in as well.

       Despite the increasing mess that is created during play-time this month, the good news is that your toddler should now be able to help with the clean-up process after he has turned your house upside-down.  Things may not always end up where they belong, and you can expect to find toys in a few very interesting places...but it is a start.


All Those Toys!!
           Toddler's this age love order and predictability, so now is the perfect time to provide your toddler with an organized play area where toys have specific "homes" to return to at the end of the day.  Low shelves and small storage bins can encourage your toddler to put things back where they belong, and it also encourages your little one to take responsibility and care for his things...something that children are never too young to learn.

       Your little one cannot play well if toys are lost or incomplete, and finding a favorite in the bottom of a toy box can be a daunting task for old and young alike.  Small stackable bins can bring piece of mind to a chaotic playroom, and keeping small items sorted and stored out of harm's reach keeps you in control.

       Start out by keeping the "baby proof" toys either in your toddler's room or a specific "play room," and help her to keep them organized.  It makes clean-up so much easier when there is a bin for balls, a bin for trucks, a bin for instruments, and a bin for dolls, and when everyone knows where things belong there's no excuse for not putting them away.  You may even want to label the bins on the outside with a picture of what their contents are, because with this method even the most discombobulated family members can figure your system out.

       Some toys, like puzzles, Legos, and anything with millions of small parts, are definitely better kept out of your toddler's hands this month unless she is well supervised.  Keep those types of toys either in the living room closet or some place inaccessible to little wandering hands, and bring them out for special occasions when you and she need a change of pace.

       Toddler's love new things and they will often hold your toddler's attention better than things she sees every day.  If you feel that your toddler has hundreds of toys that she has never played with, she may simply be overwhelmed and sticking with the ones that she knows and can easily find.  In fact, your little one may have forgotten that many of her toys even exist, so go ahead and reduce her amount of choices.  By simply rotating toys in and out of your toddler's playroom on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis she will get excited when old toys reappear after a short sabbatical, and there will be something exciting and "new" to look forward to every day.

       Now don't get me wrong, I have no problem with messes and my house gets just as cluttered with toys throughout the day as any mother with three little children.  But, amidst the chaos I have discovered the key to sanity (at least to my own sanity), and that is at the end of a long day every Lego, car, football, Weeble, Dora, crayon and Magna Doodle has a place of their own where they can rest until tomorrow...and I can remember what my floors actually look like for a few short hours.


Imitation and Imagination
           If you feel like you are being followed around by a little shadow lately, it should be of no surprise.  Around the age of 22 months, your toddler will begin to imitate everything you do, not only verbally but physically as well.  Although she may be a bit underfoot at times, take this opportunity to set a great example by teaching her a few new things.

       Your toddler will love to help you with the sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, shoveling and raking, and it may be worth your while to invest in pint-sized versions before all of your tools mysteriously end up in her toy box. And if you've recently "lost" your telephone...take a look under your little one's bed because she's sure to be copying that part of your day as well.

       This month your toddler's imagination has begun to flourish and you will witness her beginning to get more and more creative with her play-style.  This new type of playing is primarily based on what she observes others doing throughout the day, and in essence she is "practicing" and trying out new things to find which one's have the best fit.

       Your toddler will also love to pretend to be you, from dressing up in your clothes to lovingly tucking her stuffed animals into bed at night and kissing a "boo-boo" on her doll's head.  Fortunately for you, many toddlers are quite affectionate and cuddly this month in general, so her dolls may not be the only ones getting a little extra love.


           Giant Crayons       

       Have you ever wondered what to do with all of those broken crayons?  Well then, this is the perfect solution.  Obviously there are some steps in this activity that your toddler will not be helping with, but she can definitely assist with the preparation and she'll get to reap the benefits of the finished product.

       The first step of this activity is to gather together all of the hundreds of pieces of broken crayons that you can find scattered throughout your house, and take off all of their paper.  Second, line an old muffin tin with pieces of tinfoil (the thicker type works best), and coat the tinfoil with non-stick cooking spray.  Last, fill each muffin cup about of the way up with broken crayons either sorting them by color, or mixing the colors all together to make big "rainbows."

       After filling each muffin cup, place the muffin tin into a WARM oven (about 350 degrees), and allow the crayons to melt.  The melting process should take about 10-12 minutes, but be sure to keep a very close eye on how long you allow the crayons to "cook" because you don't want them to burn.  Once all of the crayons have fully melted, immediately remove the tin from the oven, and place it somewhere out of reach until the crayons have completely cooled off.

       After about 45 minutes, you will notice that the crayons have fully re-solidified back into the shape of a giant muffin.  At this point you will be able to "pop" each giant crayon out of the muffin tin and peel the foil off.  Ta Da!  New crayons.

       Your toddler will really get a kick out of coloring with this new "Giant Crayon" that she helped to create, and they are just the right size for little hands to grab hold of...the best part is that they are also much more difficult to break the second time around.


  Andrew and Devin's Opinion
           This activity was a lot of fun for everyone.  We have so many broken crayon bits that have made their way to the bottom of our crayon bucket, and I was thrilled to find something creative to do with them.

       Prior to reining my twin 22-month-old boys in for this activity, I sorted through our broken crayons, took all of the paper off, broke them up into smaller pieces, and prepared our muffin tins.  I then decided to provide each of my boys with their own small muffin tin in order to avoid the inevitable tug-of-war, and gave them each a pile of broken crayons to place in each muffin "hole."

       Putting the crayons into the tin did require some initial assistance, however once they got the gist, they were quite entertained with the process.  Andrew and Devin have recently discovered "colors" and enjoy being able to give the crayons their names, so this activity provided the perfect opportunity to practice this as they went through the crayons one by one.  After filling their tins, I then placed them into our oven and moved on to our next activity of the day until they melted.

       About 1 hour later, after the crayons had melted, cooled and then re-solidified, I re-introduced the "muffin crayons" to Andrew and Devin.  They immediately began to examine these strange looking crayons, and of course, each took a nibble of their creations in the process.  After determining that they were indeed crayons, as Andrew referred to them "Ucky cookies" at that point (I think he was a little confused by the whole baking in muffin tin process), my boys took them out for a test run on the kitchen table (I wasn't fast enough on the draw getting the paper out!), and were thrilled about the different colors they could create by using various sides of their giant, multi-colored crayon.

       This was definitely a fun way to recycle old crayons, and is definitely something we will be doing again (but next time I don't think there will be any sampling...at least by Andrew).


  Have you begun to wonder...
           How can I help my toddler to have an enriching play experience?       

       Your 22-month-old toddler does not need encouragement to play, but there are a few things you can do as a parent to improve the quality of his overall experience.

       Try and have play time throughout the day, and vary the toys and everyday items that he plays and experiments with.  Ideally, if you can have a few toys stashed away in specific places in every room of your house, your toddler will remain occupied wherever his adventures take him and he will be less likely to find himself in trouble.

       Variety is the key to keeping your toddler's interest this month; however that does not mean go out and purchase every toy imaginable.  The best toys are actually not "toys" at all, but are every day items like plastic containers, storage bins, cardboard boxes, spoons, whisks, and pillows to name a few.

       Art activities are also an essential component of "play" this month, so continue to provide your toddler with various creative outlets.  It may be helpful to set up a specific area of your house for art activities, and always have a ready supply of crayons, paper, washable markers, finger paints and large beads within reach.  At times it may be easiest to contain your toddler in his high chair for these activities, but for the brave few out there, a toddler sized table and chairs are always a fun addition.

       Do your best to be involved with your child when he plays, but also know when to take a back seat, or leave the room altogether.  Sometimes it is essential that you allow your toddler to "take the lead" and make his own itinerary, and by giving him a sense of control, you are teaching him that his opinions count and you're stroking his little ego along the way as well.


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