Time for another #MomTalkTuesday with Aubrey of The Dandy Liar and Maggie of Polished Closets! This week our topic is Favorite Indoor/Outdoor Toys and Activities for Kids.
This month’s guest post is from Alyssa at Feathers and Stripes, so head on over to read all these mama’s posts!
Keeping Marina Busy: Best Toys and Activities for an 18 Month Old
I try as much as I can to emphasize singular play, both for Marina and for myself. So I often look for toys that allow her to talk and play by herself, like the Buckle Toy below. It has helped her development because the things that she can recognize or do herself have made her very confident and independent. But I do continue to push toys on her that are ‘above’ her level to keep her interested, such as number puzzles and books. With those toys and activities she is dependent on me for play to help her understand, and although it does require more of my attention, I notice her progress very quickly!
Best Toys for an 18 Month Old
Books – This one is pretty obvious, and clearly there are tons of options available. What I can say is that right now Marina is into smaller books that she can sit with and open herself, and even better if they come in a series. She likes to have all of them together, so if I see one book she likes, I try to buy a few more from the series to keep her entertained longer. She is currently very into the ‘Little People, Big Dreams’ books, and can say the names of Ella, Maya, Coco and ‘Airplane’ for Amelia. She also likes anything with sea creatures or objects whose ‘noise’ she can make, such as Cow “moooo”, dog “woof woof” and car “zoom zoom”.
Buckle Toy – We borrowed this from a friend after we realized the stroller and high seat buckles weren’t enough. It has helped her fine motor skills incredibly, keeps her quiet for a few minutes by herself, has given her confidence and it’s easy to bring everywhere!
Beading – Marina beads with plastic beads and lanyards at her Grandmother’s house every week, and I can’t believe the focus she has while doing it. This will keep her occupied for at least 20 minutes at a time, but you do have to be with her. Although she may drop the beads, she is extremely focused on the task at hand and I think it teaches her patience as well as develops her fine motor skills. I’m not worried about her eating the beads at all- she seems to understand (probably through playing with my jewelry all the time) that these are not to eat! Although we used regular, small plastic beads there are great large wooden bead sets which are great for beginners.
Reusable stickers of Ocean animals – I originally bought them for the plane, but in the house they stick and re-stick on mirrors, windows and my coffee table, which means she always has a few at hand to play with. The only ones she’s interested in are things she recognizes or can say like fish, turtle, shell.
Letter and Number wood Puzzles – She likes these mostly because of the small pieces she can fit in her hand, and the feeling of accomplishment when they are done (often clapping to herself when finished). But she cannot do these without my help so I also think she likes them because it’s something that we do together. There are lots of ways to play with puzzles, which is crucial because after a few days she already seemed to master getting the pieces to fit!
Best Activities for an 18 Month Old
Only recently have I focused more on getting her more structured play time with other kids, as she now can understand rules a bit more. She spends a few hours a week playing with other children at the play club at my gym so I know she has a lot of interaction with other kids, and I only hope she is learning to share there (hah!). While I think classes and activities are great, they can add up and at this age most of them require parent interaction which just puts more on my plate. Therefore I choose classes or activities that I cannot really offer at home, and will opt in to classes like dance, gymnastics etc. when she is a bit older and I don’t need to attend.
Music Class 1x a week – At first she wouldn’t follow the rules (put the shakers away) but after 2-3 classes she caught on and not only follows the rules, but looks forward to each part of class. She still has lot of behavioral development to go (when it’s time to be quiet, when it’s time to sit), but I’m hoping that continued attendance will help!
Outdoor Walks – Marina goes on a walk outside our house at least once every day, sometimes in her stroller and sometimes walking with me. In the morning there are people she sees every day that greet her, like my neighbors with their dogs and the construction men. She recognizes them and interacts with them, making the walk part of her daily routine! When she walks with me instead of in the stroller it’s more of a sensory experience, as we don’t make it very far because she is rolling in grass, smelling the flowers or watching the birds. We are so lucky to live in an area with both humans and wildlife right outside our door!
Swimming – Marina is not in swim class but we try to take her in our condo pool once a week. She used to love it and was making great progress, getting her face wet and kicking to us. However, although now she talks about the ‘pool’ all week, when we finally get her in she screams like a banshee! As we get into winter, I am definitely nervous about falling off the pool wagon, and know that we have to make even more of an effort with her, as many fears develop around 18 months.
Storytime – We have not taken Marina to story time yet, but this one is very important to me. I want her to be able to sit, listen and watch, and I think getting her in on the early side will be great for her development. I assume it will be like music class where she will be a terror the first class but slowly pick up on the proper behavior week after week.