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OMG – thanks to my sister-in-law for telling me to throw a bunch of crayons into a giant cardboard box with my tot. It’s a great, independent play activity! Plus, it’s really cute. It’s like Sylvie gets to draw on the walls, but it’s totally okay (and she’s happily contained – he he.)
Though I consider this a potential independent play activity, I always supervise by sitting close and keeping an eye on Sylvie since she still puts things in her mouth occasionally. It’s still a great way to get some laundry folded or make a phone call!
I’ve discovered that Sylvie prefers markers to crayons, which sounds messy, but I found these amazingly washable markers that actually wash off! Totally recommend!
Use sign language and follow simple directions: Target the signs, “more,” “all done,” and “help.”
- 1) Present two colored markers and ask, “What color?” when your little one goes to grab a marker, you might try to form his hand into an isolated point and then tell him the name of the color he picked. Hand it over!
- 2) If he can’t open the marker, wait a minute to let him figure that out. When he looks up at you or starts to get mildly frustrated, show him how to ask for “help” by showing him the ASL sign while you say the word aloud. You can look up video demonstrations of all the signs by clicking here. You can even help him physically do the sign the first few times!
- 3) When he looks like he might be finishing up with that color, ask him “Do you want more or are you all done?” Show him the sign for “more” and “all done” while you ask and then physically help him make the sign that seems to be what he wants.
- 4) If he is “all done,” tell him: “Close” the marker and then have him follow the direction, “Put it in the box.” I usually end up holding the box so it is a little easier for him to put it in.
- 5) Repeat the above steps with different colors until he is tired of the activity.
- These exercises fill his ‘bucket’ with simple vocabulary that form the foundation for first words.
- “More,” “all done,” and “help” can be used throughout the day, which is great!
You can also find a picture list of the most common “baby signs” here.
For the Beginning-Talker:
Get her to repeat single words and follow simple directions: Target the words, “more,” “all done,” “help,” and various colors.
- 1) Present two colored markers and ask, “What color?” when your little one goes to grab a marker, tell her the name of the color she picked. See if she will repeat you before you hand it over. After you say the color, wait 3-5 seconds to see if she will repeat you. If she does say the color or something that sounds like it, hand it over right away. If she doesn’t, that’s okay too! (Still give her the marker!)
- 2) If she can’t open the marker, wait a minute to let her figure that out. When she looks up at you or starts to get mildly frustrated, tell her “Say help.” Again, wait a few seconds to see if she will repeat you before you help her. This all about creating repeated opportunities for speaking.
- 3) When she looks like she might be finishing up with that color, ask her, “Do you want more or are you all done?” Try to get her to use a word to tell you.
- 4) If she is “all done,” tell her to “Close” the marker and then have her follow the direction, “Put it in the box.” I usually end up holding the box so it is a little easier for her to put it in.
- 5) Repeat the above steps with different colors until she is tired of the activity.
- “More,” “all done” and “help” can be used throughout the day, which is great!
- Add in Stickers! Stickers are a great, motivating way to increase vocabulary. Look for a sticker book that features basic categories like transpiration, animals, nature, etc. Here is a sticker book you could try.
- If the vocabulary is new to your child, let her point to the sticker she wants and then tell her what it is as you help her peel it off. If she repeats you, that’s great!
- You can also see if she can find a particular sticker (this is good if there are not too many stickers on one page). For example, “Find the cat.”
Take It to the Next Level:
- Sticker Extension Activity: Find a sticker book or set that features your child’s favorite thing. Does he love vehicles? Does she love princesses? Or vise-versa? Then have her search for a sticker using description words like “Can you find a green digger?” or “Find a big truck”
I love to hear from readers – please comment below!
What’s your favorite independent play activity for your child?
For Sylvie, it’s definitely the bean bin!
Does your child prefer crayons or markers? Have you tried the Ultra-Clean ones?
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