Playing with just your imagination

It’s BATHTIME!

95ff6a6f-3813-4c8f-8ead-2d08badc4589Turn this every day routine into a fun way to promote language development and play skills! You can practice taking turns blowing bubbles in the water and have fun splashing mounds of bubbles around. There is so much wonderful vocabulary you can incorporate such a routine activity. Adding bath toys (animals, shapes, colors) can make learning fun! A few examples:  practicing animal sounds, pretending to give your animals a bath, finding different shapes/letters in bubbles. Whether you decide to add bath toys or not, the options are endless during bath time.

October: Toy of the Month

Learning Resources Super Sorting Pie7622115e-060a-4d9a-b545-288961677300

The super sorting pie is a great toy that targets a variety of language concepts. You can practice requesting different pieces of fruit, taking turns taking pieces of fruit out of the pie and putting them back in, and sharing. Additional concepts that can be targeted with this toy can include: same vs. different, color matching, and quantitative concepts (i.e. one vs. some vs. all).

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

September Community Events

Drop-In Art @ The Paintbrush 

Paint, draw, sculpt with play-do, scoop bears from the manipulatives bucket, draw big on the wall chalkboard, make a creative art/craft project to take home, and more.  Mondays & Tuesdays 9:15 AM – 11:15 AM.  All ages.  Free.

Parent & Toddler Yoga @ Lincoln Park Zoo

Connect to nature while exercising the body and imagination with your little one. Toddlers will practice fun animal yoga poses and also engage in activities like guided nature exploration, reading a storybook and more.

September 3rd & 10th from 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM. Ages 2-4 years.  $20/Child.

It’s a Bugs (and Bees!) Life @ Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Secrets of Bees is a highly interactive exhibit using live bees, costumes and props to allow families to role-play and peel back the mystery of bees.

Through October 1st.  $9 – adults; $6 – ages 3 – 12 years; Free – ages 2 & under.

A Detective Game With Three Little Kittens @ Emerald City Theater

This interactive spy story provides the purr-fect opportunity to show your little ones the mystery and excitement of live theatre.

September 12th – January 3rd.  Ages 0 – 5 years.  $15/child; $8/children 1 & under.

Learn and Play Date @ The Natalie G. Heineman Smart Love Preschool

Join Smart Love at a Free Learn & Play Date about Baby Milestones! The play date is casual and will take place in their baby room, a space specifically designed with your baby in mind.  Ages 6 – 11 months.  Free.

Ask an Expert: Communicating with peers

How can I encourage my toddler to interact more with his peers?  

Your child is learning how to engage and play with peers appropriately, so he needs you to model and guide him through that process! You can encourage peer interactions within your current surroundings through seeking out opportunities that allow your child to practice relating to other children. Some ideas include, playing simple turn-taking games with siblings at home, bringing chalk or bubbles to share at the park, or attending a neighborhood play date or library storytime.

DIY “Calm Down” Glitter Bottle!

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A “calm down” bottle can be used to help your child self-regulate when becoming emotionally overwhelmed or over-stimulated by his or her environment. Your child will enjoy shaking the bottle and watching the glitter settle to the bottom. Keep them on hand for long car rides, grocery store meltdowns, or as a tool to help your child calm during a “time-out”!

You’ll need:

-Empty water bottle (smooth bottles work best!)

-Glitter glue

-Fine glitter

-Clear gel glue

-Super glue

Directions:

  1. Clean water bottle and remove labels.

  2. Fill water bottle ¾ of the way with warm water.

  3. Add glitter glue and fine glitter. Shake bottle to mix and melt glitter glue.

  4. Add clear gel glue and fill to the top with cool water.

(You can play with the consistency at this point…more gel glue will make the glitter settle slowly and more water will make it settle more quickly.)

  1. Secure the top back on with super glue.

  2. Enjoy!

    Photo credit: By Inkwina (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s time for a treasure hunt!

Playing With Just Your Imagination:

Hide toys your child already has around your home. You could also extend the activity by having your child draw pictures of treasure that you can then “bury” (hide). As you hunt for your treasure be sure to model questions and answers about where that toy might be (e.g.“Is it under the table?” “No? Let’s keep looking!”). This activity is great for working on asking and answering questions, understanding location concepts, and following directions (e.g. “look on the chair!”).

I can’t understand my child’s words!

Ask an Expert

My child is finally beginning to use words, but I can’t understand anything he/she says…

At this young age, it is normal to not understand everything your child says. Generally, a simple way to determine your child’s intelligibility (or his/her ability to be understood by others) is to take your child’s age and divide by four.   This determines the amount (percent) of your child’s speech that you should understand (i.e. 2 years/4=50%).  This may change depending on context and complexity of what your child is saying. Additionally, unfamiliar listeners may understand even less of what your child is saying.

The focus of intervention prior to age three is to make sure your child’s language skills are near age-appropriate before solely focusing on  his/her intelligibility.  When it is appropriate to begin targeting speech sounds, make it fun!  For example, you can give sounds different names:

/p/- popper sound

/b/- bounce sound

/m/- yummy sound

/h/- laughing sound

You can also make fun noises throughout play activities that contain difficult sounds for your child:

  • scared noises (i.e.“ah” or  “ee” to work on vowels)
  • find animal noises that contain the sound (i.e. “baa” to target consonant or vowel sound)
  • sneeze sounds (“achoo”)
  • Practice sounds in silly places: in front of a mirror before bedtime or in the car

Head outside and enjoy the weather

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Since it is finally getting warm out, it is a great time to play with water!  Set a water tray outside. Practice similar language concepts that you normally do, but get wet while doing it! find big and small items around the house that you can put into your tray, you can discuss the functions of different items that you put into your tray (boat swims and plane flies), you can also expand your child’s vocabulary by discussing when things are wet vs. dry.

The Must-Have Toy for Every Child

Toy of the Month: Mr. Potato Head

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Toddlers love playing with the traditional toy so many parents played with as a child! Not only can you build a silly face, Mr. Potato Head helps teach body parts and facial expressions. For your older child, you can take it a step further and discuss the function of each body part.