Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (and the other versions by Bill Martin, Jr.)
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (by Helen Oxenbury)
Beginner’s Bible Stories
Kevin Henkes’ books
Little Blue Truck series (by Alice Schertle)
Dog’s Colorful Day (by Emma Dodd)
Duck and Goose series (by Tad Hills)
Skip to the Lou, My Darling (by Sally Lloyd Jones)
If You Give a … series (by Laura Numeroff)
Today is Monday (by Eric Carle)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar (by Eric Carle)
Books that are also songs, like the Itsy Bitsy Spider, the Wheels on the Bus, Five Little Monkeys, Five Green and Speckled Frogs, Snuggle Puppy, Baby Beluga, and Shake Your Silies Out (A few favorite authors of this genre include Iza Trapani, Raffi, Eileen Christelow, and Sandra Boynton)
Walk up stairs using alternate feet (not pausing on each step with both feet)
Play Follow the Leader and let your child copy your actions, as well as be the leader! Walk on tiptoes, walk backward, walk slow or fast and with big steps or little steps.
Action is an important part of a child’s life. Play a game with a ball where you give directions and your child does the actions, such as “Roll the ball.” Kick, throw, push, bounce, and catch are other good actions. Take turns giving the directions.
Make an adventure path outside. Use a garden hose, rope, or piece of chalk and make a “path” that goes under the bench, around the tree, and along the wall. Walk your child through the path first, using these words. After she can do it, make a new path or have your child make a path.
Act like animals. Can your child stand like a flamingo, squat like a duck, run on all fours like a lion?And, of course, don’t forget to make the appropriate animal sounds!
While at the park, make a “river” by placing a folded towel on the ground. Tell your child the towel is a pretend river and ask if s/he can jump over it without getting his/her feet wet. As your child gets better, unfold the towel for more of a challenge.
Bubbles! Blow bubbles up high and watch your child jump and try to pop the bubbles by clapping his/her hands. Switch and blow the bubbles towards the ground so s/he can stomp on them. Encourage your child to practice blowing bubbles, too!
String beads, cereal, pasta, etc.
Take time to draw with your child when she wants to get out paper and crayons. Draw large shapes and let your child color them in. Take turns.
Work on puzzles. (Trade with neighbors to keep them fresh throughout the summer!)
Make playdough together, letting your child measure and pour the ingredients. After cooking, roll “snakes,” form small balls to smash, or make other creations from their imagination.
Explore with sidewalk chalk. Play a drawing game where you follow your child’s lead by copying exactly what s/he draws. Next, encourage your child to copy your drawings, such as circles, straight and intersecting lines, or simple shapes.
Create a sensory box with a large storage container. Add a variety of items throughout the summer, such as sand, rice, noodles, or water along with funnels, spoons, cups, recycled containers, and items to pour with in a messy area.
Open lids. Enclose toys or snacks inside snap-top containers and let your child take the lid off to get the surprise.
Build towers. Give your child cereal boxes, oatmeal boxes, etc. to stack.
Finger paint with pudding, shaving cream, etc.
Read, read, read! The topic of the book does not matter. Reading with your child develops critical skills. Stories with rhyming words, new vocabulary, and vibrant pictures are wonderful! When you look at magazines or children’s books together, ask your child to point to pictures as you name them, such as “Where is the truck?” Be silly and ask him to point with an elbow or foot. Ask him to show you something that is round or something that goes fast.
Point out colors, numbers, and letters in your everyday conversations! Notice the blue shirt your child chose to wear or that they have six carrots to finish eating.
Give your toddler choices, but keep them simple. Let her choose a red or a blue shirt while dressing. Let her choose milk or juice at lunch.
Try to have set routines during the day and let your child know what will be happening next. Say, “Remember, after you brush your teeth, you get dressed.”
Teach your child simple songs and fingerplays, such as “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” “The Wheels on the Bus,” or “This Little Light of Mine;” or add actions to other favorite nursery rhymes, such as “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush,” “Jack Be Nimble,” “This Is the Way We Wash Our Clothes,” and “Ring Around the Rosy.”
Your toddler is learning all about emotions. Help him label his feelings when he is mad, sad, happy, or silly. Say You are really happy” or “You seem really upset.”
While cooking or eating dinner, play the “more or less” game with your child. Ask who has more potatoes and who has less. Try this using same-size glasses or cups, filled with juice or milk.