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Easy Learning Activities for Ages 3 and Younger

  1. Find objects in your home like those in a book you’re reading.
  2. Narrate what you’re doing: “I’m tying your shoes.”
  3. Make a cozy place with pillows and blankets to read together.
  4. Recite a nursery rhyme while bouncing your child in rhythm.
  5. Attend a FREE Library storytime.
  6. Give your child old magazines to practice turning pages.
  7. Ask your child to point to objects in book illustrations.
  8. Sit on a blanket outside and read together.
  9. Read out loud the words on signs at the park or on the street.
  10. Learn a fingerplay with your child. This link has ideas: www.wccls.org/rhymes.
  11. Let your child hear you reading your own book, newspaper or magazine out loud.
  12. Let your child choose the book you read together.
  13. Name aloud the things you see as you walk in the neighborhood.
  14. Make all the sound effects as you read a story.
  15. Sign up for Quick Text Tips by texting DML-Tips to 38671.
  16. Ask your child to point to specific objects or colors they see.
  17. Look for bugs outside, then share a book about insects.
  18. Read a book using your silliest voices.
  19. Read labels and signs aloud to your child at the grocery store.
  20. Borrow a children’s music CD from the Library and listen to it in the car.
  21. Share a book with flaps, textures or movable parts.
  22. Have a “conversation” with your baby using nonsense sounds.
  23. Play music and dance with your child.
  24. Read a book about an experience your child will have, like a doctor visit.
  25. Download children’s eBooks, video or music from DaytonMetroLibrary.org.
  26. Visit a fire station and read a book about fire fighters.
  27. Play “I Spy Something Red” and the other colors you see.
  28. Read a book about animals and let your child make the animal sounds.
  29. Sign up for FOCUS Early Literacy email news at DaytonMetroLibrary.org.
  30. Use your phone or tablet to video record a loved one reading, singing or doing a fingerplay. While waiting in line, or before bed, watch the video together.
  31. So called “educational media” isn’t always educational. Check out the website Common Sense Media; it’s published by a nonprofit organization that reviews and recommends quality movies, music, apps and more.
  32. Talk to your Children’s Librarian about your child and get book recommendations especially for her.
  33. Make a book about things your child does every day, and read the book aloud.
  34. Let your child turn the pages of the book you share.
  35. Print your child’s name in big letters and help him trace the letters with his finger.
  36. Hide behind a chair, letting your child see part of you. Call out, “Where am I? Come find me.”
  37. Take a picture of your child “reading,” then look at it and talk about it together.
  38. Read a book about vehicles and the sounds they make.
  39. Shake a rattle or jar of dried beans in rhythm to a song.
  40. Sing to your child (your favorite songs as well as theirs).
  41. Sing the ABCs in the car together.
  42. Create a spot in your home for a box or basket of board books your child can easily reach.
  43. Bring a doll or stuffed animal to the Library and have the toy engage in activities with your child.
  44. Learn and say a counting rhyme with your child.
  45. Ask your toddler silly questions to which the answer is “no” (every toddler’s favorite word): “Does the cat drive the car?” “Does daddy use a sippy cup?”
  46. Make a routine of counting stairs aloud as you go up or down. This helps your toddler learn one-to-one correspondence with numbers.
  47. When teaching your toddler a new word, ask him to pronounce it. Then, find opportunities to use the new word throughout the day. Practice makes perfect!
  48. Whenever possible, let your toddler choose between two options. For example: Do you want a banana or cheese for a snack?
  49. Have fun with your toddler by chanting a rhyme that he knows, but with surprising new words: “The eensy weensy spider went up your brother’s nose!”
  50. Questions like, “It’s raining today. What do you think you should wear?” will help your toddler develop her reasoning skills.
  51. To build language skills: Repeat what you hear your toddler trying to say, but use correct pronunciation, so that she knows you understood.
  52. Learning the ABCs: As you drive around, ask your toddler to tell you whenever he sees a stop sign. Together say the letters: S-T-O-P.
  53. Make a sensory bin: Fill a container with cereal, rice or dry pasta and let your child play! Good idea: spread a sheet underneath for cleanup.
  54. Swing & Learn! Emphasize the rhythm of language by singing a song or reciting rhymes while pushing your child on a swing.
  55. Toddlers enjoy painting with just a brush, water and paper – and you'll enjoy the easy clean up!
  56. Go on a Shape Hunt in the house. Find something round, something square. When toddlers can recognize shapes, it helps them learn to recognize letters.
  57. Try printing your toddler's name in big letters, then help her trace the letters with her index finger. Repeat the letter name and sound as you trace it.
  58. Keep reading, even if your toddler moves away from you. Sitting still can be hard! He's still listening, and may come back to see pictures on the next page.
  59. Hold a book upside down or start reading from the end, and see if your toddler corrects you. Your child is learning how books work!
  60. Ask your toddler to pretend to be different animals – a dog, a cat, an elephant – and ask her what sounds that animal makes.
  61. When you find first letter of your child’s name in print, be sure to point it out: “Look there’s the letter A just like in Andy!”
  62. When out with your toddler, talk about what you hear: “Do you hear the car horn? I hear wind in the trees.” Tuning into sounds builds listening skills.
  63. Don't throw that wipes container away! Turn it into an instrument. Your toddler will enjoy tapping it with a spoon while you sing or dance to favorite tunes.
  64. When reading, don’t worry if your toddler wants to skip pages. Go with the flow so the experience is fun for both of you.
  65. Next time you read to your toddler, start reading from the last page and go backward. Does your child stop you? She’s learning how books and reading work!
  66. Read it again! There are thousands of words in books that don't appear often enough in conversation for children to learn their meanings.
  67. You can turn a trip to the grocery store into a lesson on color identification: “Here’s a red apple and here’s a green apple. Which color should we choose?”
  68. Let your toddler play with pots, pans, spoons, plastic cups and boxes - simple household items can be great fun!
  69. Songs are a fun way to learn numbers and letters. Download ABC songs from Hoopla on the Library’s website, and play them on your phone.
  70. Sometimes your toddler doesn’t want to stop what he’s doing to transition to the next activity. Try singing a song about what you will do next.
  71. Don’t worry about finishing a book in one sitting. Your child can decide how long (or short) a reading lasts! The important thing is for you both to enjoy it.
  72. Tonight, tell a bedtime story about the good things your child did today, or make up an adventure with your child as the star!
  73. Let your toddler hold the book you share and let him turn the pages. You might have to read the pages out of order sometimes - that's ok!
  74. Find safe ways to involve your toddler when you cook, clean or do chores. Ordinary household tasks can be fascinating to children, and they like to feel helpful.
  75. When you are teaching your child a new word, try to use it multiple times throughout the day. Repetition in different situations helps young children learn.
  76. When your toddler draws a picture, ask him to explain it to you, and write down what he says. Then read aloud what he “wrote.”
  77. Some children start school knowing far fewer words than others. Make conversation a priority with your toddler. Talk, listen, ask questions, wait for answers.
  78. Taking your toddler to the dentist for the first time? Read Library books that introduce new experiences in advance, so your child knows what to expect.
  79. You can use shaving cream like finger paint on a tabletop. Let your toddler draw and play, then clean up is a breeze!
  80. Toddlers tend to be more cooperative when they have a predictable schedule each day. Make sure that reading together is part of your daily routine.
  81. You can make conversation with your toddler last longer by asking follow-up questions such as “Why is that?” or “What do you think about that?”.
  82. Teach your toddler nursery rhymes. Then, when reciting a familiar one, pause to let her fill in the rhyming words.
  83. Make Bath Time Math Time! Teach your toddler the words FULL, EMPTY, MORE, and LESS by using different sized cups and containers in the tub.
  84. Play music for your toddler and dance together with scarves or ribbons. Moving to the rhythm of music builds phonological awareness.
  85. Take turns! All kinds of back-and-forth interactions between you and your toddler are an important way to build communication skills.
  86. Vocabulary builder: Describe objects and ask your toddler to guess what they are: “It's in the garage and we use it to get to Grandpa’s house. What is it?”
  87. Talk about the number 4 today. Ask your child to find 4 leaves, count the tires on a car, and find other opportunities to count to 4.
  88. If there's a ball in the picture book you're reading, let your toddler find and hold a real ball (or truck, or teddy bear, etc.) while you read.
  89. When your toddler says a two-word sentence, respond by adding a few more words to it. This helps your child build his vocabulary and communication skills.
  90. Toddlers are natural sorters. Ask your child to sort socks by color or silverware by shape. They can help and learn at the same time!
  91. Encourage your child to draw and "write" by giving easy access to crayons, washable markers, chalk and paper. Even scrap paper works fine.
  92. Toddlers can listen longer and follow a story better than babies. They focus on the pictures and are learning how to turn the pages.
  93. Watch a Children’s Librarian at storytime. See how they use voice, gesture, and facial expressions to bring a book to life? You can do this too!
  94. Talk about what you’re doing as you do it. Research has shown that this “self talk” helps your child learn new vocabulary.
  95. Stacking blocks or stringing beads helps your child develop hand-eye coordination that is valuable for later writing.
  96. Pretend encourages language. Join your toddler’s play! Show him how to "feed" a stuffed animal, pretend to be a kitty cat, or pretend to talk on the phone.
  97. For toddlers, every book can be game: Ask your child to find items on each page. "Where's the bird?" “Put your finger on the yellow flower."
  98. Use funny voices and make sound effects when you read aloud to your child. It’s not only entertaining - it raises his awareness of the sounds in words.
  99. Your toddler loves nursery rhymes - especially when she can do motions along with them. Actions bring the words to life!
  100. Brains grow fast during the first 3 years of life. Whenever you spend time singing, talking, playing and reading with your toddler, his brain is developing.

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