Welcome to the “two’s”! After celebrating their second birthday, an important task for two-year-olds is developing their gross motor abilities. As your wobbly walker starts to master their coordination, they will also start exercising fine motor skills more regularly as they touch, pick, place and explore. Other developmental milestones to look forward to? Blossoming language, more curiosity, a love for using their senses (which are rapidly developing), and new ranges of emotions. At two-years-old, emotional separation can start to occur, so the concepts of comfort and security are often explored. Enlist the help of the following toys and play activities to make age two extraordinary.
One of the shifts during “the two’s” is a child’s increased interest in company. Separation issues frequently arise, and children may cling to mom and dad more tightly at this age. Enter: plush friends. These stuffed companions help ease tricky social and emotional transitions tots experience, like entering an unknown space or meeting new people. For children who need to be reminded that they are safe and connected, having a trusted plush toy by their side can provide a feeling of security and help them to learn solid coping mechanisms for their separation anxiety. When it’s not providing comfort, it’s their sidekick on make-believe adventures.
Play Dough: A Multifaceted Material
Use your hands! Two-year-olds are rapidly developing hand and finger muscles that lead to fine motor coordination. Our all-natural play dough is a wonderful material for supporting this development (plus it smells good, thanks to essential oils!). As children build, roll, pat and squish the dough, they gain dexterity that leads to a lifetime of fine motor fundamentals: gripping a pencil, learning to write and cutting with scissors, for example. Because this medium is flexible and responsive, it helps children process the way they impact their environment. When they feel and see it changing shape in their hands, they learn to recognize their involvement in the process.
Additionally, play dough can make a great bridging activity as two-year-olds start to socialize. At this age, children engage in parallel play, but are not yet involved in complex scenes. Play dough can gently invite group play. Encourage a child to make kitchen and food props, since food is a social catalyst in real life. As a child manipulates play dough into food, the activity helps them make sense of the world around them, and invites a recognizable social interaction.
Transportation Toys: Get Moving!
Transportation toys you can push are a play staple for a reason — they make your tot move! As your two-year-old grows, so do their coordination skills, body awareness and dexterity. Introduce large scale toys (shoebox-sized vehicles as opposed to pocket-sized) that require your tot to use more of their whole body as they engage. It’s an easy, fun way to promote movement and physical development. Vroom!
Instruments, Shakers and Noise Makers
Feel the beat! Music is the key to a two-year-old’s heart. At this age, they’re infinitely more engaged in playtime and learning when rhythm, instruments and singing are involved. In fact, songs are one of the best ways to enrich their emerging vocabulary and language skills. Give them (and yourself) a break from drumming on pots and pans, and grab our food music-makers for a delicious new tune or make your own instruments using open-ended materials (paper-towel-roll clarinet, anyone?).