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The air is crisp and the sun is softening which marks the start of fall. As summer fades, take time to celebrate the next season fast approaching with your little one. Toddlers learn so much from the world when we take a minute and point out the small things that often times go unnoticed. Grab your pumpkin spice latte and toy rake then let your child explore the outdoors and learn while you sip away!
One of the best parts of fall is the beautiful colors that come out. Take some time to label the colors of the leaves when you are out for an afternoon stroll. This is a great way to practice building phrases as naming colors naturally bridges one word to another.
Jumping, crashing, and crawling in the leaves allows your little one some exciting sensory play. Forget the play dough for a while and get outside. Unstructured sensory play allows your toddler to explore their body and the world around them all on their own.
Hop, Jump, Run
Playing in the leaves is a great way to work on gross motor skills. Show your toddler how to hop like a bunny throw the leaves or how to jump over a pile. This will work on coordination and your toddler’s movements will become smoother overtime.
Make a trail of leaves in your grass and see if your little one can balance while walking across them. This is is a great way for them to coordinate and refine movements without the risk of falling.
After jumping in the pile of leaves take a minute to look at all the different types. You can sort them by colors, shapes, or size. Start with just two piles to begin with and add more as your child advances with this skill. You could also use buckets if they like to put things in and dump them out!
Throwing and Catching
Just like running and jumping, throwing is another skill that takes some practice to master. Show your child how to catch leaves when they are falling from a tree. They come down at a slow speed so this will allow your toddler to focus on one and bring their hands up to catch it. Help them at first by using hand over hand assistance, let go as they become more independent.
If your toddler is just just starting to imitate sounds, then fall is the perfect time to tackle some new ones. Talk about the different sounds the leaves make when they crunch beneath our feet or the whoosh that is made when we jump into a pile. Sounds are easier to imitate and are very motivating for young children so this is a good place to start if your little one is just starting to talk.
Every new activity allows us to introduce our little ones to a new set of vocabulary. Try to pick a few words to target with your little while playing. Keep it simple and choose words that you would use frequently for the activity such as “leaf” or “crunch.”
Hide and Seek
Leaves provide a simple way to play a hide and seek game that will sharpen cognitive skills. Take simple toys and hide them throughout the leaf pile. See if your little one can find the toys by giving them simple clues or just letting them such the pile by themselves. They will be shocked to see there is more under there than just leaves!
Help your little one become more independent by allowing them time to practice putting on their shoes and coat before going outside to play. Parents often get caught up in doing it for their child because it goes much faster and can be the easiest solution when in a hurry. When you are going outside allow your child the extra time to try and do it themselves.
Show them how to zip their coat and use hand over hand assistance if needed. Once they get the hang of it allow them the time to do it themselves.
Need some more ideas?
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