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Take some time every day to just be “there” for your child. Even better, engage with mentally and physically stimulating activities that will start your child’s new year off on the right foot. It’s a resolution both of you will find rewarding.
Infants — This bouncy experience will bring happiness into any day of the year: You sit in a comfortable cross-legged position. Place your baby on top of one of your knees in an upright sitting position, while placing your hands under your baby’s armpits. Let his or her feet dangle to the floor as you support her body upright with your hands. Slowly start to bounce both knees and baby. Enliven your pace to your baby’s liking. Looking at your baby’s face, while in a sing-song voice, say, “Bounce baby on left knee, Bounce Baby, Bounce.” Then lift your baby high and over to your right knee! Repeat!
Young Toddlers — Toddlers love to see their artwork turned into place mats for the whole family to enjoy and admire! So get out those art materials, large pieces of construction paper, or whatever you and your child want to draw or paint on. Create a scene and label who or what is in it, or draw a bunch of shapes to color, or a mat showing the proper placement of plates, silverware, napkin, and cup so he or she can practice setting the table. When finished laminate it with contact paper.
Older Toddlers — Provide crayons and markers that reflect skin tones of all shades (Crayola makes a nice variety). Can your child find a match? Talk about the many colors people are. Provide a mirror for self-study. If you want, draw a picture of each other with the crayons. Make a colored frame to put around these beautiful portraits and decide together where to hang your masterpieces!
Preschoolers — Gather a variety of drumsticks: metal spoons, wooden spoons, chopsticks, or make one by shoving newspapers or cotton balls into a sock and taping it onto a stick or dowel. Take a walk around the house together and try them out GENTLY on different surfaces. Try the floor, the wall, your legs, your belly, the chair, the window, a can, a hollow box…try copying each other’s rhythms. See who can copy whose faster, or on an object that makes a sillier noise. Use your imaginations and have fun creating beats!
School-Agers — Mini-golf anyone? Make a golf club out of a wrapping paper tube and toilet paper tubes. There is nothing like reusing! Cut a slot at the bottom of the wrapping paper tube about 2 inches long and insert the end of a flattened toilet paper tube into it. Make a ball out of recycled and rolled up aluminum foil. You can use almost anything for the holes on your golf course: containers, boxes, or cans. Have fun coming up with obstacles to go around or through.