Did you know that playing with homemade toys can help toddlers build the muscles in their fingers? Here’s how!

  • Design a simple puzzle for your toddler by gluing an interesting picture to a cardboard and cutting it into five or six pieces. It’s easy and cost-efficient!
  • Engage your toddler in playing with dress-up clothes with buttons and zippers.
  • Allow him or her to enjoy tearing those scrap papers of yours. Over an empty basin or box, probably. It will make for easier clean-up!
  • Make play dough that your toddler can roll, pound, and squeeze. Here’s how: mix together 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 cup water, and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Put food coloring in the water if desired. Add more flour if the dough is sticky. Store in an air-tight plastic bag or container until it is not sticky anymore. Wooden popsicle sticks and cookie cutters may be used instead of real knives that may come out to be unsafe.
  • Remember to keep safe all the time! Let an older toddler use safe kitchen tools–a wooden spoon, plastic knives and forks, to use with play dough.

Provide and allow the kids to do simple chores. Toddlers use the muscles in their fingers and hands to do things for themselves.

  • Follow a basic schedule and stick to it. Planning your day allows time for your toddler to wash, dress, and feed him- or herself. The child may take longer to put on sneakers than you do, but him saying, “Me do it!” or “Ako na!” are markers of pride.
  • Arrange your home in a toddler-friendly manner. A refillable pump soap dispenser is easier for your toddler to use than a bar of soap, and a small plastic cup fits in the toddler’s hand. Keep the child’s toothbrush where he or she can reach it.
  • Oftentimes toddlers imitate chores such as sweeping or mopping the floor, mixing up a beverage or simply switching off the electric fan. Allow and not hinder their desire, for as long as it is safe. It will be easy to just say, “You’re too little to do that” or “Marurumihan ka!” But remember that words such as those are discouraging and spirit-dampening. Let them give it a try. Sure, the task will take longer to do but it is confidence-building for him or her.

Toddlers learn most experimentially. They learn about writing by scribbling, watching you write, and seeing words around them.

  • Look for inexpensive large pads of paper and large, nontoxic crayons, and washable markers. Save scrap paper and paper bags. Keep a supply of drawing and writing materials where your toddler can reach them.
  • Invite your toddler to get some paper and crayons so you can write together. The child will learn about writing by watching you make a list, sign a check, or do a crossword puzzle. The child might even begin to scribble after observing. His or her scribbles are a way of copying what you are writing.
  • Point to written words around you and read them out loud to your toddler. “Here comes our bus. It says ‘Baguio‘ on the front. That’s where we’re going.” “The speed limit reads 40 kph. Forty is four-zero.”