We know that it is important to observe our toddlers, to see what schemas and sensitive periods they are in. We may know what activities are suited to their level of development (stacking, sorting, matching, climbing) but what about their interests? Their interests are important too.
We may think that our toddler doesn't have any interests but if we watch - what is it that captures their attention more than anything else, what do they always want to stop to touch, reach out for, stop to listen too? Sometimes interests pass quickly, sometimes they are seasonal, sometimes they last a very long time.
"Normalisation comes about through "concentration" on a piece of work. For this we must provide "motives for activity" so well adapted to the child's interests that they provoke his deep attention." The Absorbent Mind.
I've noticed over months that Otto (22 months) loves watching ladybugs. For a while they were coming inside the house, outside he would seek them out. His ability to concentrate on a ladybug crawling on his leg or over the grass could not be surpassed. I want to support his interest in a real way, in a way that is rich in experience and rich in language. Here are a few activities we've tried.
Above is a puzzle that matches the child's interest and skill level. (Ladybug Puzzle)
A language basket and later object to card matching. (Model Insects and handmade matching cards)
Here we've used a ladybug as a picture cue on Otto's floor book.
Card to card matching. We can challenge the child by using images with subtle differences. These could also be used for language cards or even a memory game. (2x Ladybug stickers on handmade cards)
We want to keep all experiences as real as possible. Can it get more real that identifying objects in the natural environment? While a toddler might not be able to use a field guide they can provide the adult (me) with the correct name/language to use! Who knew there were so many types of ladybugs? These guides also include a diagram of the anatomy of the ladybug and lifecycle, providing more language and knowledge on the topic. (Ladybug Field Guide)
Quality books on the topic, we look for those with beautiful, realistic images and lots of interesting facts and information. (Are you a Ladybug?, A Ladybug's Life, National Geographic Kids Bugs, Hello Bugs What Do You Do?)
Wall art - at the child's level - can be a way to express individuality and create a more personalised space. Here we've used insects, including a ladybug, in their natural habitats. (Nature Prints)
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