Push and pull
Activities for toddlers and babies
Babies and toddlers learn by repeating the same actions over and over again. Pushing and pulling are part of their learning process. This theme highlights these two basic actions.
Toys that can be pushed or pulled
Throughout the week, alternate between offering toys that can be pushed and toys that can be pulled.
Push toys: Riding toys, large balls, small balls of paper, spinning tops, activity centres designed for developing fine motor skills, etc.
Pull toys: Toys that come with strings attached to them (trains, trucks, buses, wooden or plastic animals, etc.). You may also use the ideas provided below to create your own push and pull toys and activities.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
This activity can be used to greet children in the morning and to introduce your theme. Use elastic fabric to hang several wind chimes from the ceiling in your daycare. Hang a small party balloon under each one. As children arrive, hold them in your arms and encourage them to push the balloons. This will produce a gentle ringing sound. You can invite parents to join you for this activity.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (hear)
Insert tiny objects such as bells, dried legumes, or pebbles in plastic water bottles. Tie a piece of string to each bottle. Let toddlers hold the strings in their hands to pull the bottles around within your daycare or yard. They will enjoy listening to the different sounds their pulling action will produce. At the end of the activity, store the bottles out of children's reach. Constant supervision is required throughout this activity to make sure the strings don't get wrapped around a child's neck.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (look)
You will need a very large, empty plastic bottle such as one used in a water cooler. Deposit feathers or crumpled pieces of tissue paper inside the bottle. Invite children to push the bottle around on the floor.
ARTS & CRAFTS
Print and cut out illustrations or pictures that represent one or both actions you are working on with your group. For example, you can use illustrations or pictures of someone pushing a ball or wheelbarrow or of someone pulling a rolling toy. Stick a large piece of regular paper or adhesive paper on a wall. Look at and identify each illustration or picture with the children in your group before letting them stick it on your collage. At the end of the activity, you will have a large collective poster that represents your theme.
MORAL AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
Take a stuffed animal for a walk
Gather several stuffed animals, ideally dogs. Purchase small collars and leashes at the dollar store. Attach a collar and leash (or just a string) to each stuffed animal and encourage toddlers to take them for a walk by pulling them around your daycare or yard.
You will need several lightweight scarves. Tie them together to create a long chain of scarves. Hide the scarves in your sweater, letting the first one stick out somewhat. Give children the opportunity to explore object permanence by letting them pull on the scarves to discover the entire chain.
Variation: Magic in a box. You will need a box with a lid. Cut a small hole in the lid and tie several scarves together, creating a chain. Deposit the scarves in the box, letting only a small part of the first scarf stick out of the hole. Let children pull the scarves out of the box.
Place a naptime mattress on a large cushion to create a slope. Invite children to push small cars or balls down the slope. Together, observe the objects as they roll down.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES AND MOTOR SKILLS
Purchase small strollers that toddlers will enjoy pushing around during your outings or simply down a hallway (great for rainy days). Set a small doll in each stroller.
Push a ball
Inflate several large exercise balls or beach balls. Encourage children to push them to roll them around the daycare.
Push with your feet
Set a large ball in front of each child and encourage them to push on it with their feet.
Purchase or collect several heavy cardboard books that have small doors or flaps children can pull on to discover illustrations. Name the various items.
Early childhood educator
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