Advice from Canpol's experienced mothers.
I was inpired by a well-known Polish song called "Chodź pomaluj mój świat" - which could be roughly translated "Come, colour my world" - to try and paint something with my child. I knew it would require my constant attention in order to keep Julia from licking the paint, as well as acrobatic skills to protect our house from an unexpected renovation. So I spread a large sheet of packing paper on the floor, put a sheet from an A5-sized drawing pad on it and prepared the fingerpaints (I poured them on plastic plates). Yes, we painted with our fingers. In the beginning, I soaked each one of Julia's fingers in a different colour and helped her press her fingers onto the paper. Then I covered her entire palm with paint and pressed it onto the paper too. Julia was very interested in painting and it was hard to keep her away from the paint. Therefore, I let her smear my hand with paint as well. I wasn't worried about her smearing the paint on her chin or clothes, as fingerpaints are special paints that are non-toxic and can be easily washed off from clothes. Finally, we started painting on paper. I let my child experiment and paint freely, although I was constantly overseeing her activities, for the sake of safety. When we were painting, I kept naming all the colours that we used. Then Julia stepped on the paper and got paint all over her feet. This inspired me to paint her feet and press them onto the paper. I gave all the hand and footprints to Julia's grandparents.
Having fun with salt dough
Another activity that is "dirty" and developing at the same time, is touching and carving in salt dough. I decided to prepare the dough together with my child. I poured flour in one bowl and put my toddler's hand into it. I put salt into another bowl. If your child's hand doesn't have any scratches (the salt can sting!), you can also put his hand into the salt bowl. This experiment stimulates his sense of touch. Next, pour the flour and salt into one bowl and mix them with your hands. Let your child mix it too, even if he spills the mixture outside the bowl. And then the last ingredient: water. Soak your child's hands in lukewarm water and splash water on him. Then pour the water into the bowl with flour and salt and knead the dough. Your child will watch you. The dough is ready now, so you can start the fun. You can press your fingers, palms or hands into the dough - or whatever you want. Salt dough is soft and pleasant to the touch, unlike plasticine which is too hard. When the child gets used to the dough, you can start sculpting balls or rolls together (hold and guide your child's hand), and other, more advanced, shapes. Sculpt a few animals and name them.
Read to me, mummy
You can also name different objects, animals and people while reading together. Read a short rhyme to the toddler and then concentrate on the pictures. f you point at an animal, you can tell the toddler its name and demonstrate what kind of sound it makes. You can also concentrate on colours.
When it comes to locomotor activities, my child enjoyed balloon games the most. Let your toddler choose a balloon and blow it up. You can punch them, throw them or dance with them to the music. Depending on your child's motor skills, choose such a variety of the game which will be pleasant for the child. If you want to diversify the game, do what I did: pour a little warm water to one balloon and cold water to another balloon. Let the child hold them in his hands and hold them to his face, so that he can feel the difference in temperature. Your toddler can touch them (different sensations: hot - cold), throw them or roll them. When he gets tired, you can massage him by rolling the warm balloon over his legs, tummy, arms and back. It always relaxed my child. You can also try another game: pour some seeds to the balloons - small seeds into one balloon and bigger seeds into the other, and also pour a little water into them. This time, shaking the balloons will make a louder sound.
Rolling, rolling, rolling
Another simple locomotor activity that my child really enjoyed is rolling. In the beginning you can try to roll the toddler over your legs, then on the floor (on a carpet). You can help him at first, and then start encouraging him to try rolling over from his tummy or from his back independently. I often combined this game with wrapping my child in a blanket, like a burrito. How to do it? Lay your toddler on a blanket and roll him in it so that only his head and hands stick out. Then you can cuddle and kiss him to make him feel safe. Next, you can unroll him from the blanket. This exercise develops your child's sense of space, but most importantly - it's a lot of fun!
Mum of 11 year old Julia, 4 years of professional experience