Entering Early Learning Program I

Favorite Books to Read: 
  • The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear (by Don Wood)
  • Here Are My Hands (by Bill Martin, Jr.)
  • The Crown on Your Head (by Nancy Tillman)
  • The Napping House (by by Audrey Wood)
  • I Love You More than Rainbows (by Susan Crites)
  • Love You Forever (by Robert Munsch)
  • Beginner’s Bible Stories
  • Other books by Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Sandra Boynton, Karen Katz, or Byron Barton
  • Books that are also songs, like the Itsy Bitsy Spider, the Wheels on the Bus, You Are My Sunshine, and Snuggle Puppy  (A few favorite authors of this genre include Iza Trapani, Raffi, Eileen Christelow, and Sandra Boynton)
  • Have fun reading with your child! Books featuring animals or machines invite movement and making sounds. Books with flaps or different textures to touch keep hands busy. Books with detailed illustrations or recurring items hidden in the pictures are great for exploring and discussing.

Websites with More Ideas:

Gross Motor Skills:
  • Play gentle tickle games with your baby, but make sure to stop when she lets you know she has had enough. Watch her carefully and you will know.
  • Children can find endless uses for boxes. A box big enough for your child to fit in can become a fun play space, while an appliance box can be cut to include a doorway your child must step over before entering.
  • Babies enjoy push and pull toys. Make your own pull toy by threading yogurt cartons, spools, or small boxes on a piece of yarn or soft string (about 2 feet long). Tie a bead or plastic stacking ring on one end for a handle.
  • Dance to music with your baby. Hold his hands while he bends up and down. Clap and praise him when he “dances” by himself. Use songs with different beats, helping him dance slow or fast along with the music.
  • Sit on the floor with your baby and roll a ball back and forth. Clap your hands when your baby pushes the ball or “catches” it with his hands.

Fine Motor Skills:
  • Tape a large piece of drawing paper to a table. Show your baby how to scribble with large nontoxic crayons. Take turns making marks on the paper. It’s also fun to paint with water.
  • Cut up safe finger foods (do not use foods that pose a danger of your baby’s choking) in small pieces and allow your baby to feed himself. It is good practice to pick up small things and feel different textures (bananas, soft crackers, berries).
  • Finger paint with pudding, shaving cream, etc.
  • Play with puzzles. (Trade with neighbors to keep them fresh throughout the summer!)
  • Manipulate blocks, boxes, and other stackable toys or items that come apart and fit back together.
  • Provide toys that have parts that go into holes, such as shape sorters or simple puzzles, for your baby to explore.
  • Create a sensory box with a large storage container. Add a variety of items throughout the summer, such as sand or water along with cups, recycled containers, and other items to pour with in a messy area.
  • Cognitive Skills:
  • Let your baby “help” during daily routines. Encourage your baby to “get” the cup and spoon for mealtime, to “find” shoes and coat for dressing, and to “bring” the pants or diaper for changing. Following directions is an important skill for your baby to learn.
  • This is the time your baby learns that adults can be useful! When your baby “asks” for something by vocalizing or pointing, respond to his signal. Name the object your baby wants and encourage him to communicate again—taking turns with each other in a “conversation.”
  • When you are dressing or diapering your baby, talk about her body parts and show her your body parts. Say, “Here is Daddy’s nose. Here is Destiny’s nose.”
  • Babies love games at this age (Pat-a-Cake, This Little Piggy). Try different ways of playing the games and see if your baby will try it with you. Hide behind furniture or doors for Peekaboo; clap blocks or pan lids for Pat-a-cake.
  • Teach your child simple songs and fingerplays, such as “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” “The Wheels on the Bus,” or “This Little Light of Mine.”
  • Try to have set routines during the day and let your child know what will be happening next. Say, “Remember, after we change your diaper, we will go outside and play.”
  • Let your baby know every day how much you love him and how special he is!
  • Read, read, read! Read favorite stories again and again. Seek out books about things your child especially likes — trains, animals, even the moon. These books may extend their attention span and build enthusiasm for reading.
  • Ask lots of questions! Toddlers have opinions, thoughts, and interesting ideas about their world. Encourage your child to tell you what he or she thinks. You'll build language skills and learn what makes your child “tick” at the same time. You can also stage other learning experiences: Set up a zoo with all the stuffed animals. Stage a race with the toy cars. Put your toddler in charge and simply ask lots of questions.