## Taking advantage of teachable moments for toddlers

While all young children are like little sponges, continually soaking up information, I find toddlers to be especially curious and eager to participate in family activities. This curiosity and eagerness helps toddlers learn about the world around them. Parents can take advantage of this time in their child’s life to teach basic concepts in fun and natural ways. These learning opportunities take no extra time; it really is simply a matter of being mindful of teachable moments with your child.

Numerical order and amounts can be taught and reinforced during many everyday situations. Try adding counting activities that emphasize numerical order or amounts in these ways:

• Count aloud while brushing your child’s teeth. Let him know that you will brush until you reach the number ten.
• Count aloud as your child climbs each step when going up to his bedroom at night.
• Let your child know that his meal will be ready in 10 seconds and then count aloud to 10 before placing his plate on the table.
• Count aloud as you brush your child’s hair.
• Count aloud to determine how many steps there are from the car to the door of your house.
• Count the number of pieces of food as you place each one on your child’s plate. Snack food works well with this activity since children generally love snack food and it often comes in small pieces. (Goldfish crackers, cereal pieces, strawberries, blueberries, or banana slices are some good choices.)
• Toddlers love to play Hide and Seek. Count loudly to 10 before announcing “Ready or not, here I come!”

Introduce “left” and “right” sides of the body with this activity:

• Each time you dress your child, name the body part you are touching, such as “left arm,” “right leg” or “right foot” as you place that limb into the shirt sleeve or pants leg or his foot into a shoe or boot.

Introduce color words throughout your child’s day in these ways:

• Name the colors of your child’s clothing as you dress her.
• Name the color of foods that you serve your child. “Here are some orange crackers” (or red strawberries, yellow bananas, purple grapes, brown raisins), etc.
• Call out the color and type of vehicles you see when in the car with your little one. “There is a yellow bus” (or red truck, blue car), etc.
• Point to and name the colors your child uses when drawing a picture.
• Name and point to colors in the picture books you read to your toddler.

Introduce shape names to your child by identifying the shape of everyday items he sees or plays with.

• ”Here is your round plate. Please put it on the table.”