How Keeping an Activity List for my Toddler Makes Every Day More Fun

Family Matters on 04.30.12
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Photo: Katie Morton

The other day, Alex wanted to color. "Oh boy," I thought to myself. "She hasn't colored in such a long time. I keep forgetting to bring the art supplies out." Out of our big bag of markers, crayons and colored pencils, she picked a light pink pencil to color an elephant in her coloring book. Her grip was dainty, and the marks she made on the page were very light.

She's young -- not quite two --so I'm not concerned that she isn't an expert at coloring. However, we could all use less TV time and more time playing and learning. This moment gave me the idea to write down a list of activities my daughter can delight in each day.

This list is a loose suggestion only. If she's busy with her books, I'm not going to tear her away to make her do something else. But for those moments that she looks like she's getting into something she shouldn't or she's asking me to turn on the TV, then I can turn to this list and select an activity.

Here's the list:

  • Dance party: moving to music
  • Drawing and coloring
  • Practicing her ABCs and 123s
  • Reading
  • Singing
  • Going outside for a walk or to a park or playground

Almost daily without having to think about it, we read stories, she counts aloud, names the letters of the alphabet, and we go outside. But I feel like she could be exposed to more music and singing and arts & crafts.

She's really good at letters and numbers; she loves when we point to the words as we read. The logical next step for her will be to (eventually) learn to write. Coloring is a great way to learn how to effectively make marks on the page. I want her to find holding a writing implement to feel natural. So if I give her the chance to color every day, this will make learning to write easier for her when the time comes.

By having a list of activities we can do within reach, she can stay engaged in healthy activities, keep learning, and most importantly for her age, she'll have lots of fun -- and I'll never have to worry about what we'll do next.

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