toddler activities

July 7, 2010

Toddler Conversations

What kind of conversations are you having with your little one? At the youngest ages, there is amazingly rich non-verbal dialogue but when it comes to talking we adults are doing most of it. Our toddlers do show a distinct progression in how they share their ideas. From one and a half to two yrs, toddlers usually have very simple and isolated ideas. For example, in the video below, Whitney expresses that she would like me to “sit down” next to her while she eats lunch and then tries to communicate that she does not want her usual nap after lunch:

This conversation is characterized by isolated ideas without much fluency and really no narrative at all. Between 2.5 and 3 years, our toddlers begin to connect their isolated islands of understanding into more comprehensive narratives across events and time. These Narratives go further than just words to describe things. Narratives have a dramatic through line with actors who have desires directed toward goals which take place in a context. Below is an example of Whitney’s new ability with conversation and narrative stories:

Whitney was now beginning to understand how one event leads to another (a storm can create a mess); how ideas operate across time (If the mess was created yesterday; today we need to clean it up); and how ideas operate across space (If the street sweeper can clean up the street, it could also clean-up our driveway). Ideas can now be used to explain emotions (I don’t like that noise from the machines; that noise makes me mad) and for logical thinking (that is fantasy instead of reality). This period is a monumental stepping stone toward mature, rational thinking. You can have conversations on just about anything at anytime and anywhere, so engage your toddler and see what they have to say.

May 19, 2010

Toddler iPad Adventures

To share or not to share that is the question– do we let our little ones get their hands on our new iPad. As you might guess from my previous, Screen-based media (10/28), post I do believe that there is a responsible way to explore almost anything that a baby can get their eyes, ears, nose, or hands on. Tools and devices such as the iPad will be an increasingly important part of our child’s world so why not let them get a jump start if they show an interest. And my daughter Whitney definitely showed an interest in what daddy was doing with that electronic thing in his hands and wanted to get her hands on it. So I downloaded a few Apps targeted at her age & stage and let her have at it. Wow, was I impressed with how quickly Whitney mastered the interface and figured it out. Computers, iPads, mobile devices, DVDs/VOD boxes are truly our children’s machines and I think we need to rethink our ideas about No Use policies with an open mind and creatively figure out the best uses of these machines at each age and stage of development:

The problem solving required to figure out the machine and the Apps on these machines is wonderful. As demonstrated in the video, Whitney quickly figured out the on/off button, the way you finger scroll to get to different Apps, how to stop the scroll and then touch the desired App to launch it. She then quickly mastered the featrues of each App, even how to make it bigger and smaller on the screen (which BTW took me a lot longer to figure out). Our infants and toddlers are not intimidated in the least. They want to jump right in and give it a try. If we provide the minimum support our babies need and scaffold them appropriately for their age and stage, there are no limits to their discovery.