Best Activities for Growing Minds
Over the weekend, Madison and I went to The Home Depot to participate in their monthly kids workshop. We had an absolute blast and she LOVED building a wooden easter basket! Craft time is quickly becoming one of Madison’s favorite things to do, and as a crafty mom… this makes my heart very happy. In general, we love to be out of the house, on the go, and always doing something. Some people think I’m crazy for staying so busy, but I think this kind of chaos helps maintain my sanity. (as backwards as that is!) As time goes on, I will be sharing many more of our adventures so stay tuned! Now that I have a very curious and active 2 year old, I thought it would be good to research the best activities for growing minds. I want to be sure that the activities and social opportunities that I am providing her are age appropriate and will give her the best opportunity for development.
I am not claiming to be an expert in childcare by any means, but I can definitely say that my daughter and I stay busy with activities! I want to share our personal experience with what she has enjoyed the best and has facilitated her development. I believe that kids learn best through play and that it is important not to push them at a young age. (I can speak from personal experience… I have pushed before and it TOTALLY backfires!)
One reason that you want to keep your child busy with games, activities, and learning toys is to fine-tune their sensorimotor skills.
As babies respond to the environment, they build neural connections in the brain. Actually, the degree to which the brain responds to environmental events—its plasticity—is greatest during the first few years of life.
An infant’s or toddler’s sensory experiences affect both the size of individual neurons and their interconnections. Research has shown that the brains of infants with rich sensory experiences are physically larger and heavier and have more neuron activity than the brains of infants born in severely deprived circumstances. That research indicates that the day-to-day interactions with people and the environment influence the brain’s physical structure and thus the functions the brain directs.
Big brains = lots of smarts!
As caring parents, we all want our children to thrive and do well in everything that they do. By nurturing their early years and providing ‘rich sensory experiences’ I think we can set them up for the best success possible! Below is a list of activities and things that we do with our daughter, hopefully this helps spark some new ideas for play for you and your tots!
- Outdoor Play – by far her favorite! Madison loves it when I take her to a local playground. Our backyard features a water table and a sandbox that allow her to explore how things move and how she can manipulate all of the different accessories and tools that go with each of those toys. Riding a bike and exploring how to play sports help with her physical development as well.
- Gymnastics Class and Play Place – There is an open gym class for preschool aged kids at a dance studio in our town… we attend on those days where Madison needs some physical activity indoors! I love this place because I get to play and explore with her. It allows her to explore her body and the way that she can move on all of the different toys and apparatuses that they have in the room! (check out the picture to the right —>)
- Painting, Coloring, Drawing, and Crafting – These types of activities help your child explore his or her inner artist and exercise the right brain. I like to have different types of avenues for free drawing available: chalk, markers (Crayola Color Wonder Markers are the best mess free solution!), and crayons are our go to materials. Madison loves to paint pictures and paint craft items. The dollar store is a great place to find things like sun catchers and door hangers to paint.
- Cooking – It’s SO wonderful to have a little helper in the kitchen! I let Madison use safe utensils and help her dump measured ingredients into a bowl. She feels such a sense of pride helping me cook! I can’t wait to get her more involved as she gets older.
- Exploring Toys and Make Believe – This is what most people traditionally think of when it comes to kids play. Allow your child to work up to playing independently but be patient and understand that for awhile they will want you by their side. Playing with toys develops their imagination and helps them explore the world around them!
- Household Chores – I think it’s important to show that even at a young age, your child can help with chores and make an impact around the house. This helps develop an attention to detail as well as those motor skills! Sweeping and cleaning windows are two of Madison’s favorite chores. (I’m just very careful to use a safe cleaning solution so that she can help.) She loves her cleaning set from Melissa and Doug because it has cleaning supplies that are just her size! Check it out here.
What do you for fun with your kids that helps with their development and learning? Please share in the comments below!