5 First Learning Activities for Toddlers

Guest Blog by Susie | Lakeshore Blog Ambassador from Busy Toddler

Do you ever wonder what to teach toddlers? How do you get them ready to learn about the world?

Don’t worry—learning activities for toddlers don’t have to be complex or “fancy.” Play is the best way to help toddlers learn. I keep activities light and simple by focusing on five basic areas: sensory play, sorting, artistic expression, gross motor development and fine motor control.

There’s nothing better than a quick, easy toddler activity, especially one that is full of learning!

Sensory Play

Sensory play is incredibly important for toddlers because it lets them learn while they explore and engage with the world!

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I put together my favorite sensory activity using a bag of rice and a few scooping tools, such as Lakeshore’s Stack & Nest Sensory Toys. The setup is simple, but it will help toddlers build problem-solving skills and learn about capacity, cause and effect, and spatial awareness. Yes, little ones can get all that from a bin filled with rice!

Here’s my own toddler building fine motor skills as she pours and plays!

Sensory bins make a perfect early learning activity for toddlers!

Sorting

Sorting activities are worth their weight in gold! Sorting is a complex skill—one that toddlers will use throughout their lives.

Sorting is powerful! When toddlers sort, they analyze data, make decisions and organize objects by attribute.

A “toy sort” is one of my favorite activities! I like to use a variety of shapes and colors, so Lakeshore’s complete set of Classic Hardwood Learning Toys is perfect! To set up, I removed the pieces from the boards and placed them onto a cookie sheet to keep the pieces contained.

Then I challenged the toddlers to sort the pieces and place them back on the boards. Finding the right place for all the different shapes and colors takes focus and concentration, so this is a perfect learning activity!

Artistic Expression

Open-ended art activities are an important and valuable part of childhood—and that includes toddlers. That’s why I like to think beyond sitting and coloring when I prepare an art activity.

To shake up art time, hang paper right on a wall. This helps toddlers build up their arm muscles and gets them moving as they create. What an easy way to make art time even more valuable!

Gross Motor Development

Gross motor skills are used for big movements, including running, jumping and climbing. There are tons of fast, easy and exciting ways to help kids boost gross motor skills. You could have a dance party or set up an obstacle course outside.

To prepare a quick gross motor activity, I love to cover our family room with pillows and have my kiddos run around. This activity promotes balance, problem solving and spatial awareness.

Fine Motor Control

Fine motor skills are used for small movements—usually those involving hands and fingers. As toddlers grow, their fine motor skills naturally improve, but it’s important for toddlers to actively practice these skills since they’ll need them for writing and other tasks throughout their lives.

I love to promote hand and grip strength with transferring activities. Using a pair of tongs, my daughter moved the soft-sewn pieces from Lakeshore’s Learning Letters Washable Activity Book into an adjacent muffin tin.

As my daughter transferred the pieces, I talked to her about the letters on the pockets of the book. I love incorporating additional skills, such as alphabet knowledge, into a simple activity!

Remember—learning activities for toddlers don’t have to be extravagant. Play is the most important ingredient in any toddler learning activity!

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