(Eighteen to Thirty-Six Months)
This is an exciting time for caregivers of toddlers! Every day brings new glimpses of personality and their expanding interests. Tap into your toddler’s creativity with a few inexpensive and low-stress creative activities. Your child’s self-confidence and language will develop at a fast pace when participating in a variety of art, music, dance and story-telling activities.
Eighteen to Twenty-Four Months
At this age, you’ll notice your toddler finds undressing to be quick and fun but dressing is still difficult. Physical coordination is also improving daily and you may notice your toddler standing on tiptoe, walking up and down stairs, and catching balls using both arms and chest.
Better watch what you say and do! Your child is becoming an excellent mimic of action and voice. Here are some creative activities to try:
- Hold hands with your child and move to music. Let your movements vary from fast to slow, high to low, and forward to backward.
- When socks won’t stay on the feet, pretend socks on hands are puppets or animals.
- Visit the library and choose picture books.
Look at pictures and photos and tell stories.
- Act out favorite stories with simple props (toy phone, doll, scarves).
- Play with simple child-sized instruments.
- Creative art projects may use paper plates, Popsicle sticks, torn paper, nontoxic paint, or Play Dough. As the caregiver, you will be supervising but allowing your child room to experiment.
Twenty-four to Thirty-Six Months
Growing into the “Terrific Twos” you will notice your child’s coordination improving and concentration lasting longer on some activities. Since that attention span varies day-to-day, be ready to move on if an activity doesn’t “click” on a particular day. Here’s a wide variety of ideas to try:
- Draw on paper and name objects drawn
- Go outside and draw on sidewalks with water
- Complete puzzles that have large knobs on each piece
- String large beads
- Use motions for “Itsy, Bitsy Spider” or “I’m a Little Teapot”
- Experiment with brushes and paints, Play Dough and clay
- Create simple costumes using fabric or old clothes
- Play with puppets to retell stories or create new ones
- Point out shapes, textures, and colors when dressing
- Demonstrates loud/quiet and fast/slow when singing or dancing
- Demonstrate and explain light and dark colors and hard and soft pressure when drawing and coloring
For more information on developmental milestones, check out our NebGuide, Ages and Stages for Toddlers https://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/g2104.pdf
I also invite you to watch these short videos from our Beautiful Day series, Paint with Water https://mediahub.unl.edu/media/13293 and Exploring Shapes https://mediahub.unl.edu/media/13189 for more creative inspiration with your child. Discover and Design are packed full of ideas https://fitandhealthykids.unl.edu/discover-and-design.
Linked Resource: Creative Connections: Young Children and the Arts
by the Maryland State Department of Education in 2013
LA DONNA WERTH, EARLY CHILDHOOD EXTENSION EDUCATOR | UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA
Peer Reviewed by Jackie Steffen, Lisa Poppe, and Lynn DeVries, Early Childhood Extension Educators
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