End of summer cleaning
Activities for toddlers and babies
This theme will help you prepare your daycare for September. By inviting babies and toddlers to help clean your environment, you will provide them with the opportunity to experiment various simple tasks. They will love exploring water, facecloths, brooms, and dusters. Best of all, your daycare will be squeaky clean to welcome new babies to your group.
To your brooms!
To introduce your theme as children arrive in the morning, set clean handheld brooms and dustpans on the floor. Add a variety of items such as balls, crumpled pieces of paper, etc. Let toddlers explore the tools and items freely. After a while, encourage them to use the brooms and dustpans to pick up the other items and deposit them in a bucket. Allow them to empty and fill the bucket as many times as they wish.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
Paintbrushes and soapy water
This is the perfect time of the year to clean large outdoor play surfaces and playhouses. When you go outside with your group, bring a few buckets filled with soapy water. Provide large paintbrushes and show children how they can dip them in the soapy water and then brush them all over the surfaces. While they are busy "painting" the toys with soapy water, you can use rags to scrub the toys down next to them.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (touch)
Gently sweep a clean feather duster along children's arms, legs, and face for an interesting sensory activity. Give each toddler a feather duster and let them manipulate them. They will love touching the feathers. Show them how they can use the dusters to clean toys and furniture items. Constant supervision is necessary since some children may be tempted to pull the feathers off their duster. Collect any fallen feathers and use them for crafts.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (smell)
Lemon-scented soapy water
Make your soapy water even more appealing for children by boiling water with lemon slices prior to presenting this activity. Let the boiled water rest until it is lukewarm and then add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Soak facecloths in your lemon-scented soapy water, wring them out, and distribute them. Let babies and toddlers use the facecloths to wash toys within your daycare. Variation: Instead of lemon slices, use a few drops of lavender or vanilla essential oil (beware of allergies).
ARTS & CRAFTS
Washing and drawing
Print a picture or an illustration representing a toy. Laminate it. Set non-toxic washable markers in front of your group. Let them draw on the picture or illustration as if they were "decorating" the toy. When they are done, hand them wet facecloths and invite them to wash the markings off. Once the laminated picture or illustration is dry, repeat the activity if children continue to express an interest.
MORAL AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
Caring for our dolls
With the babies and toddlers in your group, undress all the dolls you have in your daycare. Provide facecloths that have been moistened in soapy water. Show children how they can use the facecloths to wash the dolls. When they are done, hand them small towels they can use to dry them off. Variation: You could also fill medium-sized containers with soapy water to represent bathtubs. Children will enjoy washing the dolls in them.
Associating toys and pictures
Use a very simple association game to teach children where everything belongs. On one bin, stick a picture of a block. Set blocks just like the one in the picture on the floor, next to the bin. Encourage babies and toddlers to place the blocks inside the bin. Variation for older children: Toddlers who are 2 years old or older will be able to sort toys. You will need two bins. Identify each one with a picture. For example, you can stick a picture of a toy car on one bin and a picture of a ball on another bin. Set several different balls and toy cars on the floor. Show children how to associate each item to the correct bin.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MOTOR SKILLS
Bath time for toys
Outdoors, set kiddie pools on the ground. Fill them with lukewarm water. Add dishwashing liquid and stir to create a thick layer of bubbles. Invite babies and toddlers to collect small toys around your yard. Wash them together. Variation: If you wish, you may bring a few indoor daycare toys outside for this activity. For example, you could pick a day to wash all your blocks. Set the toys on a beach towel or blanket to dry.
Hang a clothesline in your yard, at children's level. Fill a container with doll clothes and bring it outside. With the babies and toddlers in your group, wash the clothing items in a small bin or kiddie pool. With older toddlers, hang the items on your clothesline. Name each item with your group.
Hang a clothesline at children's level within your daycare. Print and laminate several pictures or illustrations related to your theme (soap, broom, doll in bathtub, etc.). You may also take pictures of the children in your group performing various tasks and print them. Display the pictures on your clothesline. Let children pull on the pictures to grab hold of them. Name what you see in each picture with your group (supervision required).
Early childhood educator
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