Activities for toddlers and babies
Transform your daycare to make it look like an aquarium.
- Use adhesive paper to stick pictures of fish and colourful fish illustrations on the floor. Young babies will love to explore them as they crawl around the daycare. You will find printable fish illustrations in the educatall club.
- Stick blue cellophane paper on a window. Variation 1: Spray water on the window and let babies stick and remove large pieces of blue cellophane paper on it. Variation 2: Replace regular light bulbs with blue light bulbs.
- Cut fish shapes out of colourful cardboard and hang them from your ceiling. If you wish, children can decorate them first.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
Aquarium full of fish
Give children several fish-shaped crackers. Have each child draw an aquarium on a piece of construction paper. Laminate their drawings to create aquarium placemats. Have children arrange the crackers on their placemat/aquarium. Children will love to eat the fish one by one.
Serve rectangular fish nuggets to your group. Cut triangles out of cheese slices to represent fins. Add them to each side of children's fish nuggets. You may also use small pepper pieces to add eyes. Arrange olive pieces around the nuggets to represent bubbles.
Cut different fish shapes out of cheese, bread, and watermelon slices. Serve them at snack time or lunch time.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (look)
A real fish
Purchase a real fish and deposit it in a fishbowl within your daycare. The fishbowl must be out of children's reach, but at children's eye level if possible. Children will love to feed the fish every morning. Deposit the exact quantity of food in a child's hand and let him/her sprinkle it on the water's surface.
An ocean on the ceiling
Select one area of your daycare to decorate. The reading corner or the area where you change children's diapers are good choices. Stick several blue balloons on the ceiling to represent water. Also hang different lengths of blue party streamers from the ceiling to create waves. You can attach a fish to the end of each streamer to create the illusion of fish swimming in the ocean. You can also hang pictures of starfish and seashells if you wish.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (touch)
Fish-shaped stuffed animals
Cut pairs of identical fish shapes out of colourful felt. They must be big enough to be safely manipulated by little hands. Match identical fish shapes and stuff them with fabric scraps or any other type of recycled material. Sew or glue the contour of each fish and let babies and toddlers manipulate these original stuffed animals. Constant supervision is required.
ARTS & CRAFTS
Fish-shaped mosaic puzzle
Cut a very large fish shape out of heavy cardboard. Cut the fish into pieces to create a puzzle. Have each child draw on one puzzle piece. When they are done, help children arrange the pieces to complete the puzzle. If you wish, you can glue the puzzle pieces in place to display your fish on a wall. It will look like a colourful mosaic.
Fish in water (group activity)
Provide several different types of blue crayons and markers. Let babies and toddlers scribble on one or two large pieces of cardboard displayed on the wall. You can even draw fish shapes on felt pieces and encourage children to paint them. Once the paint is dry, cut them out and stick them on the cardboard pieces to complete your mural.
MORAL AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
I am a fish
For each child, cut a fish shape out of cardboard. Let children draw on their fish. Photograph each child and print the pictures. Cut around the contour of each child's face and glue it on his/her fish. Laminate the fish and practice naming each child with your group.
Visit a pet shop with your group. Admire the fish and, if possible, take a picture of the pet shop's aquarium. Invite parents to join you for this special outing. If you are unable to visit a pet shop with your group, encourage parents to take their child to the pet shop during the weekend.
Pick a day and ask children to wear a blue sweater or dress. You can stick fish-shaped stickers on the sweater or dress of older toddlers to make them look like tiny aquariums. Supervision is required since some children may be tempted to remove the stickers and put them in their mouth. Be sure to remove all stickers at the end of the activity.
April Fools' Day
To introduce little ones to jokes, color a large fish with your group. Ask another adult to act as your accomplice ahead of time (another early childhood educator, a parent, etc.). Encourage children to stick the fish on your accomplice's back. With your accomplice's help, emphasize his/her surprise and laugh about the joke with the children in your group.
This activity is great for introducing children to the concept of cause and effect. It requires constant supervision. Attach a piece of string to each child's high chair. Secure a laminated cardboard fish (or a small fish-shaped stuffed animal) on the end of each string. Encourage little ones to toss their fish overboard. Show them how they can pull the string up to catch the fish. They will repeat this simple action over and over again.
This activity is perfect for presenting numbers to the children in your group. Stick a fish illustration on the wall. Cut circles out of construction paper to represent bubbles and stick them over the fish. Write a number inside each bubble. Begin with numbers 1, 2, and 3. Later, add numbers 4 and 5 for older toddlers. Have fun naming the numbers written in each bubble with the children in your group. The goal of this activity is not to teach your group how to count. Aim to simply give them the opportunity to see numbers for what may be the first time.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MOTOR SKILLS
Fish and soap bubbles
To make bubbles like fish, blow soap bubbles for your group. Cut fish shapes out of felt and glue them on heavy cardboard. Give each child a felt fish and encourage them to use their fish to catch bubbles. Help younger children by holding their hands in yours. Soap bubbles usually don't pop on felt.
Container filled with fish
Hide several plastic fish (large enough they can safely be manipulated by little ones) in a manipulation bin. Children will enjoy discovering the fish while manipulating the contents of the bin. If you prefer, you may also print, cut out, and laminate fish for this activity. Here are a few manipulation bins that can be explored with little ones:
- Water table
- Container filled with Jell-O
- Container filled with rice cereal
- Rice bin
- Container filled with cotton balls
- Container filled with feathers
You will need a cardboard box with a lid. Cut circles out of the sides of the box, large enough for children to be able to insert their hands in the box. Deposit several construction paper or felt fish inside the box. Children will love feeling inside the box and catching the fish. If you wish, you may also add one or two items that have nothing to do with the fish that are in the box. When children catch them, act surprised and discuss why they don't belong in the box with them. Stimulate language and vocabulary development by describing the fish (color, size, shape, etc.). You can arrange plates next to the box. Children can deposit the fish they capture on the plates one by one.
Early childhood educator
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