Resources for the Preschool Years - 1001 Ideas for Toddlers and Twos
updated February 16, 2017
Yes, you say, yes...
I understand that Waldorf early childhood programs are play-based (here is some important reading on the value of play) and do not include early academics
But what does that LOOK LIKE? What do you do with your child each day?
Rhythm is key at this age and comfortable and familiar routines reign supreme. But it is also nice to throw in some new experiences and
stimulate those curious little minds! Get those pudgy fingers and toes moving and exploring! And sweet eyes twinkling and little bellies rumbling with laughter!
This is not an exhaustive list and it is not a curriculum (the word curriculum literally comes
from a Latin word which meant "racetrack"). Replace that idea of a "race to the finish line" with the thought that you
are instilling a love of life, and a love of learning. This list is
neither meant to be restrictive nor prescriptive; rather, it is meant to be descriptive. We all
enjoy seeing and hearing about new ideas. So I hope these help to inspire you and
I welcome your suggestions! Just email me.
Here are 1001 ways to enjoy your child during these wonderful, and all-too-short,
years with your precious little Buttercups and Bumblebees.
NOTE: This project was started on Mother's Day 2016. My son was just turning one year old.
Go to the previous page: 12 - 17 months old
November 2016 - eighteen months old
211. Have a family portrait session outside on a beautiful fall day. (If your child resists sitting still, try reading books together. This makes
for a very sweet memory and a great picture.)
212. Put a handful of fat (milkshake-sized) straws and a handful of cotton swabs in a shoebox. Instant fun! I kept some of the straws
full-length and cut some (1/2 and 1/2, 1/3 and 2/3 lengths). Show your child how to put the cotton swabs in the straws and watch them drop out the other side. Carry
straws around. Drop them on the floor. They make a great sound (and, by the way, the sound changes depending on the length).
213. Have some conditioner that isn't really working well in your hair? No problem. Mix 2 cups cornstarch with 1 cup conditioner (or lotion) to make
an awesome playdough. Keep it covered so it doesn't dry out. And watch your child carefully... this recipe isn't edible.
214. Ask your child to bring you your shoes or socks from across the room. She will be so pleased to be helping! And learning the names of
pieces of clothing to boot.
215. Set seasonably-appropriate clothing for your child in low drawers and let him choose his own outfits. You will still need to open and close the drawers, of course.
All four of my children began picking out their
own clothes at 18 months of age. They love it and they look so adorable!
216. Before you put junk mail in the recycling bin, pick some things out for your child to enjoy. Mail-order catalogues make for great practice in turning the pages of books,
and heavy cardstock flyers are brightly-colored, easy to carry around, and sturdy. We have a mail pile for adults and a pile of toddler "mail" which he can get into and read anytime he likes.
217. Shopping online for the holidays? Give your child a big pile of small cardboard boxes and he will happily fill them with all of his toys, then rearrange, moving them from one container to another.
218. Have some still-warm tapioca pudding.
219. Climb up and down stairs. And up and down. And up and down. Hold the railing.
220. Draw in the water droplet condensation on your windows when you wake up in the morning.
221. Take a walk to collect some rose hips.
222. Do your research and decide what's appropriate
for your own child... but this is the age when I decided Zac could have a small crocheted baby blanket at night. He loves his little yellow blankie!
223. Pomegranate seeds! (Older siblings might enjoy hearing the legend of Persephone.)
224. We have a lovely vintage Kik Step Rolling Step Stool which Zac
used as his first walker and has enjoyed playing with for months. Now he's loading it down with toys and pushing them all around the living room, stopping every once in a while to drop one in the rabbit's cage. Any kind of
system for transporting toys seems to be a hit. Baskets! Boxes! Cookie tins!
225. Cool Whip makes an excellent "edible" finger paint (whether or not this item counts as a food is up to you) and
I highly recommend painting the inside of your tub or shower with it. It is
easiest to control the mess that way and it makes bath time much more entertaining!
226. Take your child with you to vote. I did early voting so that it wasn't so crowded, and packed a snack for the baby. He was fairly patient during the process... and
now he will be able to say for the rest of his life that he was there when the first female U.S. president was elected (or not)!
227. Pay the water bill together. Walk along the sidewalk outside City Hall and run your hands along the bricks of the building's wall.
228. Zac has moved on from simply stacking his nesting bowls to pretending they are cups and drinking from them, and handing them to us so we can pretend to drink from them. It's time for a few simple play kitchen foods! Find a whole variety of knitting and crochet patterns for play kitchen foods at my blog post FREE Resources - Arts & Handwork.
229. Take a tour of a medicinal herb garden. Pick up rocks
from the path, carry them for a while, and then throw them back down. Try to lift the hose. Feel all of the plants (well, not the stinging nettle).
Walk through a grove of fig trees.
230. Actually slow down and watch the misters at the grocery store spray the fresh produce. The glistening drops of water are so pretty!
231. Let your child carry your grocery list and pencil while you're at the store. He may drop them out of the cart every once in a while
but he loves to be helpful.
232. Write a letter to your child TODAY listing little things about her that warm your heart. Make it short and specific. (I love the way you always
try to feed the blackboard chalk to the rabbit. I love the little curls in your hair after bathtime and even though your bangs are in your eyes I really am not ready
to give you your first haircut!) Fold it up and put
it in an envelope and find a place to stash it. Give the letter to your child when she's in middle school and she thinks you find her completely annoying. I promise it will make her day!
(For my middle daughter's first
birthday I traced cookie cutters and cut out dozens of autumn leaf shapes in a variety of colors of cardstock and wrote a milestone from her first year, like rolling or crawling, and the date she achieved it on each
leaf. As a party decoration I made a wall display with all the leaves in chronological order. Then I stored all the leaves in a box. I recently found the box and gave it
to Leah after a particularly rough mother-daughter day. It totally warmed her heart and turned things around.)
233. I love this Toddler Beach Sensory Bin with Edible Sand idea from Fun at Home with Kids,
but I couldn't find white cornmeal anywhere! Finally I checked on Amazon and found 40 lbs of white cornmeal (8 five-pound bags) for just $28.68 with free shipping! This bin will
be so much fun to set up for Zac, and I can dedicate a bag or two to our indoor beach and put the rest of the cornmeal in the chest freezer for cooking with.
224. Wooden stacking train toy! Zac's speech
therapist has this and he has so much fun with it, I decided to add it to my shopping cart when I purchased the cornmeal... An impulse buy, yes, but I know he will love his new beach sensory bin and his train!
225. Sing up for the monthly seasonal newsletter by Suzanne Down of Juniper Tree School of Puppetry Arts. She specializes in early childhood and in therapeutic
storytelling. She sends a lovely simple seasonal story out each month to her subscribers.
226. Make some felt animal finger puppets using the patterns in Suzanne's book Around the World with Finger Puppet Animals (the link is to her website where you
can order the book directly). She gives patterns and
instructions for 12 farm animals, 8 forest animals, 8 meadow & pond animals, and 14 "around the world" animals. Not only this, her book also includes animal poems and theatre ideas for every animal and a list
of five things about that animal which we are joyful for. An excellent resource!!!
227. Begin work on a blank wall calendar for 2017. Write in the days of the week and the month; use the blank
space above for your child's artwork. This is a lovely keepsake (and a great gift, if you can bear to give it away). Here is my blog post with some
calendar ideas from my homeschool co-op. Some are more suitable for older children, but some are good for younger. It would be a good project to do as a family!
228. Sing the mitten song while putting mittens on to help your child learn how to hold his hand.
Thumb in the thumb hole
Fingers all together
That's what we say
In mitten weather!
229. Buttered noodles for dinner! Egg noodles, or a chunky pasta shape, simply tossed with butter and Italian seasoning and topped with Parmesan. And a veg on the side. So good! So kid friendly!
230. Knit a cheerful cotton washcloth in a bright color for your little one's bathtime. I chose Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton Yarn in True Red.
Cast on 34 stitches with size 2 needles. Knit 2, purl 2 all the way across (17 pairs of stitches)... then repeat. In other words, on the way
back, look for the stitches with the little bar across and knit them. On the way back, look for the stitches
with the little v's and purl them. It won't be ribbing because you have an odd number of pairs. Continue until your piece forms a square, then cast off.
231. Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (leave out the chai for a baby-friendly caffeine free version) is a great use for frozen bananas.
232. Line up all the dining room chairs and climb aboard the "train."
233. Use sheets of pure wool felt for pages, and Suzanne Down's finger puppet templates for animal patterns, and sew a felt book for your child full of animal scenes. This will
be Zac's Christmas present, along with the wooden train. So far I've done an elephant page, a doggie page, and I'm working on the crocodile and some little embroidered fish.
234. Look at the pretty pictures Jack Frost painted on your car windows.
235. We tried the Toddler Crunchy Box activity and Zac loved it, in some ways.
He's too little to have the power to wield the hammer to really smash things, and his arms were too short to reach into the bin so we moved
the stale cereal to a large wooden salad bowl. But I let him keep the empty cereal boxes and he loved carrying them around and putting things into them.
And he liked to use the toddler hammer to stir the cereal in the bowl and pretend it was a spoon and that he was eating. He would put the hammer (and later his
hairbrush) up to his mouth and pretend. So I think he had a good time!
236. Let your child try to put one of his pieces of clothing on you. She will find it absolutely hilarious.
237. Lie down on your belly on the floor so that you are child-level. See the world the way your son or daughter sees it.
238. Your child is old enough to find you if you hide behind a piece of furniture. Let them watch you hide and pretend
to be surprised when they find you. Any element of chasing and suspense is fun too. Zac loves it when he brings his brush over to brush
my hair but he stands right by me, knowing I'm waiting for him to start, and he doesn't start and he just stands there laughing hysterically.
239. Watch the big kids building a fort out of logs outside.
240. Carefully, fill your cup of milk with little pieces of cereal one at a time. Or, pour your cup of milk out all over your high chair tray and lap it up with your tongue like a dog.
241. Make the animal sounds when you read stories together. Zac's latest word is "owl." He can neigh, baa, moo, hoot, roar, and bleat like a goat. And when you ask him what a baby says, he says "dada." So cute!
242. Protect your child's sleep as vigorously as you did when he or she was a baby. 15-16 hours a day is ideal for this age. Our current schedule is 7 pm - 7 am for overnight sleep, with naps from 9 am - 11 am and 1 pm - 3 pm.
Every child is different, of course. Learning your own baby is essential. I
get compliments all the time on how cheerful my toddler is and it's because he is rested and not over-tired, so I know this sleep routine is working for him!
243. Spread out a blanket on the floor on a rainy day and enjoy a picnic inside.
244. Pick up shoes and carry them around.
245. Carefully find all of the raisins in the raisin bran and eat only them.
246. Point to things all around the house and have people name them for you.
247. Plain white chalk is a great thing to color with because it wipes clean from almost any surface (like the floor) when your child
suddenly decides to leave the chalkboard and make marks on all kinds of things. But crayons and colored pencils are important too. They just require
a little more on your part. We have been learning the signs for the colors. And Zac's latest word is "purple."
248. Sit cheerfully in an enormous basket.
249. Hold hands in the kitchen and dance to Christmas music.
250. There's a great variety of handmade play kitchen foods on Etsy... and it's so much fun to look through all the pictures... but here's something really unusual. The only
vendor I've found for crocheted ginger root! Made of cotton yarn and stuffed with wool roving,
or rice for a weighty feel. For Zac's age I picked the wooden fruits & vegetables from Red Barn Toys.
251. Carry a bouncy ball all around the house. Bounce it up and down the steps. Roll it through the house and chase it. Roll it so far under the bed that a long-handled mop is needed to retrieve it. Drop
the ball into the laundry basket where you can't reach it. (Luckily, Zac can sign "help" when his ball gets someplace where he can't retrieve it.)
252. First haircut! We just trimmed the bangs. I left the long curls in the back.
253. Watch a snail crawl up the glass of an aquarium. Marvel at the strength of his foot. Stand on the other side of the glass where you can
see the foot's doughy underside.
254. Take off all your clothes during your nap and throw them over the side of the crib.
255. Teach your child how to plant his feet and lift his bottom into the air during a diaper change. Every new skill is a revelation!
December 2016 - nineteen months old
256. Sit in the high chair in the kitchen and help wash dishes after a meal! Becca handed her brother a small washcloth and a few non-breakable dishes, one at a time, and
he carefully dried them and handed them back. He loved the lesson on how to wash dishes. She showed him every step.
257. In the mornings, Zac and I still have cuddle time. He comes into bed with me at 7 am after he wakes up, and snuggles under
the covers. He loves to put his head on a pillow (he doesn't have one in his crib yet). He is still nursing but only this time of the day
because it's our routine. The rest of the time I read to him, rock him, and then put him down when he's still awake but drowsy. Today we sat in bed and put the covers over our head to make a cave and roared like lions! He still wanted
the cave to be only partial, to see the sunlight. Being totally buried under the covers would be too much.
258. Help pick out a Christmas tree! Feel the different kinds of needles. Smell the different smells. We love the Frasier fir.
259. Sit in your beach bin and make a tower of cornmeal "sand" on your knee. Use a shell as a scoop. Relax in there and eat some Cheerios!
260. Check out all the ornaments and lights (we put only crocheted snowflake ornaments on the lower part of the tree). Help find the Christmas pickle!
261. Put magnets off and on the side of the filing cabinets in the living room.
262. Find all the gifts in your stocking! Enjoy some fig newtons in your high chair while everyone
else opens their stockings.
263. Tear the wrapping paper off of your presents.
264. Walk around hugging your stuffed wombat. Refuse to let it go!
265. Zac is old enough to sit through some longer stories now. He loves Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business.
266. Go to a concert of Taize monastery music at a church. Zac's first time in church!
267. Go to the opening night reception at an art gallery show. Take your wombat, of course. Eat snickerdoodles and drink
pink lemonade and look at all the art.
268. Sing "Old Macdonald Had a Farm."
269. Zac made up his own sign! Naturally, our family needed a sign for "wombat," so he invented one. He must think it's some variation of
a pig because he adapted the sign for pig, but instead of a flat hand up close under the chin, it's a fist.
270. Eat some Slow-Cooker Sausage Lasagna. No pants, no shirt... just a diaper and socks. Lasagna is messy business!
271. Try eggnog.
272. Howl like a wolf!
273. Go to a Christmas party. See Santa from a distance (too young for picture taking without tears).
274. Set up a 2 inch diameter cardboard mailing tube to drop blocks through. Simply tape the tube to the wall with masking tape, find
some wooden blocks that will fit through, and set them nearby enticingly. Then place a cookie tin below the tube so that things which
fall into it make a lovely clatter.
275. Put handfuls of dried pinto beans through a funnel.
276. Paint on the chalkboard with clean water and a wide paintbrush. Write with chalk in one hand and paint with water in the other. Try to erase
the water with the chalkboard eraser. Experiment with drawing chalk lines on the wet parts of the board. Consider brushing your hair with the dripping wet paintbrush.
pictures on my blog -- we had so much fun!
277. Take a clipboard and a pen and walk all around the room making important notes on your paper.
278. Climb up on a stool to investigate the piles of clean laundry folded on the dining room table.
279. Ask to have The Carrot Seed read to you three times in a row.
280. Check to see if a full water bottle fits inside a full glass of water. It does... but only
if some of the water gets out of the way. Run and get a towel and carefully clean up the spill.
281. Move a stool over to the living room window so you can look outside whenever you want. Watch the cars go by, the mail man, the trash truck, and all
the people who walk their dogs on your street.
282. Freeze some ice cubes with food coloring in them for your child. In a popsicle mold, these little
frozen colored cubes have handles and are great for painting the inside of the tub at bath time. Made without handles, in a
standard ice cube tray, these colorful mini icebergs are fun to float in a warm tub. Watch them dissolve, the color
swirling out of them. Watch the colorful trails from two ice cubes blend to make a new color. Try to grab them before they melt and completely disappear!
283. Enjoy snacking on a selection of homemade Christmas cookies.
284. String Cheerios on a long piece of kitchen twine using a thick blunt-end yarn needle. Hang them on a tree branch for the birds to enjoy.
285. Carry around a handkerchief and pretend to blow your nose.
286. Go out together in the morning, pick up the paper, and bring it inside. I'm not sure why but Zac loves to carry the newspaper!
287. Look at the Christmas cards which come in the mail.
288. Take ornaments off the tree and carefully put them back on (crocheted snowflakes). Clap each time!
289. Have a little friend over to play. Show him how to feed the rabbit handfuls of kale.
290. Play with zippers on your clothes, Mom's clothes, and the clothes of anyone who comes over to the house. Fascinating!
291. Go to the bank and look at the huge Christmas tree in the lobby. Go to the library and return books. Go to the post office and mail packages. Go to the grocery store and buy a gallon of milk.
Smile and wave at people wherever you go.
292. Carry around the curved pieces of the Grimm's 12 piece rainbow stacker and pretend to talk on the phone. Use them as arches to drive your train
under. Figure out which arches the train will fit under... and which ones it won't. We have the original rainbow colors but I just
recently found out they make this stacker in pastel and monochrome.
293. Sing "The Twelve Days of Christmas."
294. Go to the dog park and watch the dogs running around.
295. Put your wooden fruits and vegetables in a large mixing bowl and use a wooden spoon to stir them all around. Soup!
296. I saw how much Zac liked the dried beans and funnel so I set him up with an entire Pinto Bean Pouring Bin. You can buy
huge bags of pinto beans at Walmart! His bin had beans, measuring cups, the funnel, some large wooden spoons, and a little melamine bowl.
He sat in the kitchen and vigorously "cooked" while I washed the dishes.
297. I also made him a bin of shaving cream and some more of those frozen colored ice cubes. For this one, I set him in the bathtub (no water in it)
and took off all his clothes except his diaper. I put the shaving cream and ice cubes in an aluminum 9 x 13 baking pan. He spread handfuls of shaving cream
all over the walls of the tub, then scrubbed it with a washcloth. Then I took off the diaper and filled the tub with warm water and he "washed"
the walls of the tub some more. Then I drained the water and put in fresh warm water and gave him a bath. He was squeaky clean and so was the tub!
298. Find more picture books with Christmas carols in them. Zac loves being sung to and even though I have a quite horrible singing voice,
and would never sing to an adult, it makes him happy so I ignore my self-consciousness and sing to him.
He loves Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella: A Provencal Carol,
beautifully illustrated by Adrienne Adams.
299. Carry around a rolled up yoga mat. Stand it upright by its end and happily pound the other end on the floor. It makes a lovely hollow thumping sound!
January 2017 - twenty months old
300. A sensory bin full of different colors, shapes, and flavors of Jell-o!
301. Turning our Beach Bin into a Button Excavating bin... removing the seashells and
adding a collection of buttons and a sieve to the cornmeal.
302. A trip to the Science Museum. The box turtle by the front door (which it took Zac forever to find because it wasn't moving), the fish and the rabbits and the giant
bearded dragon, the wooden racetrack and cars, the cabinets in the doctor office play area, the water table and the little boats, the pendulums, the balls, the puppets, the grocery store
play area with its little carts and shelves of food, the gears, the magnets, the whisper tubes, and -- finally -- the sandbox. Neighing at the dinosaurs
because with their long snouts he mistook them for horses. That was completely adorable. Whew! What a great morning!
303. Putting bread crumbs out for the birds on a snowy day.
304. Adding a new element to the routine when I put Zac down for his naps. Tucking his giraffe in under his blanket and giving him a board book or two to read to the giraffe.
305. First experiences with stickers! Putting stickers on his shirt and on Mommy's shirt. Putting stickers on paper and then drawing on them.
306. Play with Mommy's keys. Accidentally set off her car alarm.
307. First two-word phrase, while asking for his story. "Brown bear."
308. Look at family photos. Say the names of all the people you recognize.
309. Read lots of new books. Point to thing you want someone to name for you.
310. Show your child the signs for emotions like Happy, Sad, and Angry. Help her learn the names for her feelings.
311. Tell your child the words for weather. Our ice storm was particularly exciting!
312. Roll a giant yoga ball around the living room.
313. Fill a sensory bin with rice and add the wooden rainbow-colored bowls and arches.
314. Zac's developmental therapist brings every activity in ziploc bags with zippers at the top. She also brings markers. He loves to slide
the zippered bags open and closed and put the caps on and off the markers.
315. Shape sorting toys are a big hit but still a little tricky.
316. Put a sweet potato in a glass filled 2/3 with water and keep the water level maintained. Place in a sunny spot. Watch the roots and shoots grow!
317. Old favorites... Zac still ADORES his bean bin (20 lbs dried pinto beans, scoops, bowls, spoons, measuring cups, and a cooking pot) and plays with
it daily. New skills... he is practicing holding measuring cups perfectly level so that they don't spill, carrying them filled with beans oh-so-carefully across the room to the waiting cooking pot.
318. Purchase the new Caldecott winner and honor books. I will do this each January so that we have a wonderful collection of books when he's older. (Used book sales at the library are my other
favorite way to fill the shelves with quality books.)
319. Carefully look through National Geographic magazines.
320. Learn how to slide the rabbit's cage door open and closed. Gently pet the rabbit.
321. Run to the window whenever a car goes by.
322. Watch your sisters playing outside when you're supposed to be taking a nap.
323. We have a little poop artistry going on at our house during naptimes, too. We have done lots of baths and washing the bedroom walls. A hopefully short-lived but entirely developmentally appropriate stage.
324. Stand in the bean bin. Climb back out. Carefully pick all the beans off which stick to your feet. Nice use of pincer grasp!
325. First taste of ICE CREAM!
326. Hear the birds singing cheerfully, rush over to the window, sign "bird," and quietly whisper "wow." Zac has the sweetest gentle breathy "wow." He only
uses it for things that are really special: trains and birds.
327. Help pick up the Qwirkle pieces from your sister's game and put them in the bag.
February 2017 - twenty-one months old
328. Zac is putting his hand in his puppets and trying to make them move. We love our set of eight La Grande Famille puppets
by Moulin Roty. This adorable animal series is extra fun because each puppet can be undressed, plus they have interchangeable gowns!
329. Go grocery shopping with mom. Sit in the front of the cart and help carry interesting things. When you get tired of carrying something, turn around and drop it
into the cart.
330. Carefully stack a can of tomato paste on top of a can of coconut milk. Carry the pile around the living room with the top can tucked under your chin
for stability. Carry the pile to a chair. Consider whether or not to try to balance the large can on the smaller one. Decide not to. Carry the two cans
in a stack around the room, placing it on the seat of the chair every minute or so. Do this
for a full 10 minutes. Add a second can of tomato paste to the top of your tower. It balances! Place the cans on the floor and roll them around the room.
331. Classic Buzzy Bee wooden pull toy. His older sisters
had this and now I'm passing it down to him. So sweet.
332. Put the bag of dried currants in and out of the box.
333. Walk over to someone sitting on the floor and back up, then plop right down in their lap.
334. Watch your sisters making dipped beeswax candles -- saying hi as they pass by, walking around in a circle through the kitchen, dining room, and living room --
and see the candles grow bigger and bigger.
335. Hide little wooden blocks in the bean bin and let your child find them and stack them to make towers. Hide little colorful figures in the bean bin, find them, and sort them by color into the colored wooden cups.
336. Indoor messy play with our moldable play sand bin.
337. Walk around tapping a yardstick on the floor.
338. Walk around using the yardstick to slide the Talenti lid across the floor. A little hockey action!
339. A fun visit to a friend's house! Play with the bead curtain hanging by the back door. Follow the dog around saying "hi" over and over.
Spin the lazy Susan in the cupboard. Take out cans of soup and roll them around the kitchen floor. Shake the boxes of couscous -- best maracas ever.
Tap on the piano keys.
340. Blow really hard on an empty box of raisins until it falls over.
341. Pour out a cup of water on your highchair tray and blow on it and watch it make ripples.
342. Say "achoo" whenever someone sneezes.
343. Pretend play with a little child-size teapot. Pour and serve "tea" to everyone!
344. Hummus and pita chips. Carefully scoop the hummus up -- great fine motor!
345. Enjoy the different styles of art and simple text in They All Saw a Cat.
346. Pour out a cup-full of dried cranberries on your highchair tray and blow on them and see if they move.
347. Walk on tippy-toes.
348. Walk around stomping your feet like an elephant.