Break out the muffin tin!
Sorry, I got a little carried away with the pictures, but my son was so cute doing this activity that I couldn’t help myself. I incorporate a muffin tin into many of my speech-language therapy sessions. There’s so much you can do with them to develop and support language skills. You can use most any kind of tangible to go inside the muffin tin. I use alphabet letters, rubber ducks, ping-pong balls, ball pit balls, bouncy balls, bugs, dinosaurs, most anything that is of interest to the little I’m working with. In thinking of fall activities to do with my one year old son, I decided to go with pumpkins! I found these gems at Target. They open up and have candy in them like Easter eggs. Luckily my son hasn’t figured that out yet, so they make nice shakers instead. I was stoked when I found these pumpkins because I needed ones small enough to fit in my muffin tin and baby friendly. With older toddlers, a nice variation of this activity is to use real, small pumpkins and gourds to add an extra sensory element. Real pumpkins were going to get a bit expensive and my baby would have bitten chunks out of them anyway, so these plastic pumpkins do the trick. Ok, you have the muffin tin and things to go in it, now what?!?!
12 Muffin Tin Activities to Stimulate Language:
- Independent play– When you first introduce muffin tin activities, let baby explore and discover the items without a lot of parent direction, just oversight
- Joint play– Simply sit down on the floor with baby and play with the items, put them in and out, bang them, shake them, name items and colors- just play together, laugh and smile
- Imitative play– Let baby watch and learn, they will likely imitate what you do, place the items in one at a time, bounce, drop, roll, hop or jump the items in, stir the items, then change roles and parent imitates what baby does, name aloud the items and actions as you do these things
- Take turns– The muffin tin is great for taking turns, “my turn, your turn,” this works best with older toddlers, taking turns builds the foundation for the natural turn taking that we do in communicating with others- it’s a very important skill to focus on, taking turns also works on self-control, consideration, memory and concentration
- Follow Directions– Give baby simple directions such as, “put your pumpkin in,” “take your pumpkin out,” or “give mommy your pumpkin,” with older toddlers you may say, “put the pig in,” “take out the red ball,” or “put in the animal that quacks”
- Requesting– Older toddlers can begin to work on requesting what they want via word, sign, or gesture, for example you may say, “do you want the blue ball or pink ball?”
- Scavenger Hunt– Tell baby familiar items to seek out, bring back to the muffin tin and place in the muffin cup
- I Spy– Fill the muffin tin with different items your baby enjoys (farm animals, letters/numbers, colors) and play a game of I Spy, have baby find what you name/describe
- Hide and Seek– Place a variety of objects in the muffin cups and cover them with paper cups or muffin liners, ask baby to find an object you name/describe
- Sorting– You can do lots with sorting, you can put colored muffin liners in and sort items by color, sort colors of pom-poms/crayons/Fruit Loops/M&Ms, sort letters/numbers, types of animals, types of foods
- Counting– Rote count items, sequence numbered wooden blocks, or use muffin liners with numbers marked on them and have your little match the number of items to the number (beans, Cheerios)
- Clean up– Make sure to reinforce task completion with a friendly game of clean up together.
Check out this video of my son and I playing. I love using themed items because when you’re out and about and see decorations and such, baby will recognize and make associations. And, they will likely come out with a word or two!
I challenge you to give the muffin tin a go. It certainly won’t hold your baby’s attention for long, but there is a lot of learning to be had. Keep these activities short and sweet (you may wish to start with a six cup muffin tin especially for young toddlers) and you and your little will have fun together! Let me know how it goes.
Peace & Love,
Respect, kindness and love begin with babies…we must show them the way!