Your 18-month-old is so busy! Now that your baby has become a toddler, they are walking, talking, and establishing their independence. They are ready for new challenges. How can you keep up with their desire for novel activities?
Here is a list of five of the best toys for your 18-month-old, selected for their ability to engage their cognitive and motor skills.
Painting SetIt is not too early for your little one to explore their artistic sense! You can put together a simple painting set at home. At this age, stick to 1-3 colors. Too many choices is overwhelming and detracts from the activity. In a small tray, place a piece of painting paper, a paintbrush large enough for your little one to comfortably hold and control, a dish for water, and a small painting tray where you can squeeze some paint. Limiting the amount of paint your toddler has access to will allow them to focus on painting the paper, and not on just making a mess! Show them how to dip the brush in the paint and apply it to the paper. If you have given them more than one color paint, show them how to wash the brush in water in between colors. Let them paint for as long or as short as they wish, then lay the paper out to dry.
A Bead Stringing Set
This is a Montessori toy that allows your little one to practice precision and coordination while also encouraging creativity. The set contains a wooden dowel attached to a string and 18 differently colored beads, some with small holes, and some with medium or large holes. Your toddler will strengthen their fingers and develop their dexterity as they manage the dowel through the large holes in the beads. Then, as they master this work, you can swap out the beads with large holes for beads with smaller holes to increase the challenge. Additionally, choosing between the different colors allows them to experiment with aesthetics and creativity.
The Language Set
This Montessori material consists of a set of cards with photographs and a set of matching objects. This work supports your little one’s developing vocabulary as well as their understanding of the relationship between photos and objects. Here, you will show your toddler the objects and say each of the names. They may choose to say the name after you or they may just listen. As they examine each object, you can say the name again. Later, you can show them how to match each object with the corresponding card. In this way, they are both learning new words and exploring the concept of photographs.
Window Washing Kit
Window washing is one of the first home care activities your toddler can participate in. First, assemble a small sponge, squeegee, and rag in a child-sized bucket. Then show your little one how to wet the sponge and apply the water to a window. Use the squeegee to wipe the water away, and then dry with the rag. Hand the work over to your toddler, and let them clean however they see fit, even if it does not seem efficient to you! Remember the purpose is the process, not the product. You can offer a re-presentation later if they are struggling with the activity.
Collection of Natural Items
In a basket, you can collect categorized items from nature with your little one, and then keep them in the house for examination and language. The items will depend on where you live and what season it is. Shells, dried leaves, rocks, or large seeds all work well for this activity. There are a few purposes for these collections. First, they create categories for your toddler, so that they understand that even though these items all look different they are all in the same category. They also provide an opportunity to develop language, as you use specific words to describe the items you collect (e.g., Maple leaf, Oak leaf, etc.). And finally, they encourage your little one’s budding scientific nature, as they are given the time and opportunity to study the natural world at length.