Right before Eli turned two years old, it was as if he woke up one morning and was now a kid. He carried himself differently: stood taller, more confident. He moved differently: stronger sense of purpose, determination. And he shifted back to work on his shelves with a kind of drive I hadn’t seen since he started walking. I scrambled to find new fine motor and language challenges as well as continue to aid his practical life and gross motor needs. Throw in loads of imaginative play, and we have had fulfilling and joyful days with our new two year old. Here are some of Eli’s favorite works at 24 months old:
Cutting with scissors. I think Eli is a pretty common toddler in the sense he wants anything that looks slightly sharp. Ha! I finally introduced him to scissor work, and it was love at first snip. I think there are quite a few posts out there that break down the best scissors for young hands. I just grabbed a pair from the grocery store. They cut paper well, but couldn’t do too much damage on a finger. I have also established a hard rule that he must be sitting at his table (he was too wiggly when he attempted to complete his scissor work on the floor) to use the scissors, and I have also demonstrated how to hold them when walking because I’d rather him know and ask to practice walking with them with care then chance he’ll inevitably walk someplace with scissors in an unsafe carrying position. When this work is on his shelf, it is 4 out of 5 times chosen first, and he will sit for long periods of time cutting little pieces of paper and placing them in the bowl on the tray. At the end of the activity cycle, he takes the bowl to the trashcan to empty the bowl for next time. I have not introduced lined paper for him to cut yet. This is simply practicing to cut paper with scissors safely.
Gluing. Another fine motor and art activity favorite right now. On the tray, there is a small blank piece of paper, glue in a nail polish container, a small bowl with patterned paper die cut into 1.5 inch circles, and a small, tabletop art mat. Eli enjoys choosing a circle patterned paper, placing the glue on the back of the circle with the brush, and then placing the circle onto the blank paper. He is quite proud of his creations and often asks to hang them on walls all over the house.
Big cats language work. Eli has yet to meet an animal he doesn’t love. I thought he would enjoy the challenge of learning animals similar in appearance. I presented a collection of big cats (lion, lioness, tiger, jaguar, leopard, cheetah, and black panther) in the form of a two period lesson (or only parts one and two of a three period lesson). Oh, the absorbent mind! It took Eli no time at all to distinguish the difference between the jaguar, leopard, and cheetah. Let’s just say it took me longer to put those to memory. And now, after watching a short nature documentary about the leopard, you can often find him helping his big cat figurines to climb trees (aka all our indoor potted plants). Ha!
Man, Woman, Boy, Girl sorting. Lately, Eli has been enthusiastically identifying strangers as “man,” “woman,” “boy,” and “girl,” so I thought he would enjoy a sorting activity with these categories. I borrowed four of his dollhouse figurines to use as category “titles” because he is familiar with these figurines and their corresponding categorical labels. I, then, made three cards of each “man,” “woman,” “boy,” and “girl” by finding diverse images of each (I made sure the people represented all shared the same emotion–happy–because I wanted Eli to focus on gender and age, not emotion as in a previous work), printed, cut, rounded corners, laminated, and then cut again. Eli loves, loves, loves this work. He often sorts, gathers cards, then sorts again several times.
Animal family language and matching. Eli has previously matched mother/baby animals, but I wanted to include the father animal as well this time. I pulled three animal families and presented their names in a two part lesson: bull, cow, calf, buck, doe, fawn, rooster, hen, and chick. We then sorted them into families. Eli enjoys naming and sorting as well as helping the baby mammals locate their mothers in order to drink milk. It led to a nice discussion when he wanted the chicks to drink milk from the hen.
Animal silhouette matching. Definitely one of the challenges this month. I have limited this work to just three corresponding matches; although, this set from Montessori Print Shop provides a lot of pairs to choose from and to add to the challenge in the months to come. Eli studies the silhouettes quite awhile before choosing its matching picture, and we’ve talked about the parts of the body he can identify in the silhouette, which seems to help with his matching.
Mother puzzle. We’re expecting baby #2 in just about 4 months, and we talk about the baby in my stomach often. Eli especially likes to remind me my stomach is getting “biiiiiggggg.” Thank you, my dear son. I loved this puzzle set so much, but at 24 months old, Eli’s puzzle skills weren’t quite ready, so I photocopied and laminated one level of the completed puzzle to serve as a guide or puzzle base, which is much more in line with his current ability. Eli loves to hold the baby puzzle piece to my belly before placing the piece into its spot, so there’s no question that he’s made the connection.
Vehicles and transportation puzzles. These two puzzles have been Eli’s absolute favorite non-geometric puzzles. Never before has he wanted to complete a puzzle, return the pieces to the basket, and then complete it again, but these two puzzles hold his attention for long spans of time. He especially loves to talk about the people (and dogs) he sees inside the vehicles, and he usually comes up with some story about them. Gosh, I love this age!
Cone sorting. Another challenge, but one Eli really loves exploring. Because he must get the pieces inside all in the right order before completing the simpler “ring stacking” aspect on the outside, this three-dimensional puzzle takes quite a bit of focus from Eli. So fun to observe!
Stitching block. I love this “first sewing” material, and Eli does, too. It is a perfect size for Eli to handle with ease. The holes are shaped at an angle, which helps guide the “needle” at a correct sewing angle, and then the string can be pulled out to start again.
And those are some of Eli’s favorite works at 24 months old! I’d love to know what work your young toddler has been enjoying lately.