Babies typically begin understanding, identifying and naming some basic body parts around twelve to eighteen months of age. This is a wide age range, but all babies are different and will learn them at their own pace. Babies will certainly pick this information up quicker if we place focus on it and utilize teachable moments. I try to talk to my son about body parts daily. I point to and name them on everything I can find. Then I ask my son to point out body parts on himself, myself, his daddy, our dog, pictures in books and toys, anything I see that has basic body parts. Bath time, getting dressed, diapering, reading and playing are all great times to quickly review major body parts (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hair, feet, hands, belly button). I’m always thinking of different ways I can incorporate them into our daily routines. I started thinking about what I could do that was related to Thanksgiving, but age appropriate for a young toddler. We’ve been reading Thanksgiving books with pictures and mentions of Pilgrims and Native Americans, so here’s what I came up with.
Pilgrim Face Toddler Activity
Materials: contact paper, tape, felt
1. First, I cut eyes, ears, nose, mouth, face and a hat out of felt (I cut them free hand, my husband said my Pilgrim looked more like Freddy Krueger- party pooper!)
2. Second, I taped the face to a solid surface (I used bandage adhesive tape because that’s all I could find, but painter’s tape works well to keep surfaces free from damage)
3. Next, I taped contact paper sticky side out over the face (I made the mistake of buying off-brand, cheap contact paper, which didn’t adhere good. I recommend spending a few extra dollars and buying higher quality if you tackle this activity)
4. After that, the magic began! I showed my son how to place the body part felt pieces on the face while naming each, then we placed the pieces together and now he does it by himself. Of course we talk about the body parts, touch them and make funny noises with them.
So you have your Pilgrim, now what?! Incorporate language into the activity!
- Name the pieces and place them beside yours or your baby’s as you play together
- Ask your baby to point to or show you the body parts (“where’s your nose?” “show me the Pilgrim’s eyes,” “where’s the Pilgrims mouth?”)
- Follow simple directions- have baby put the pieces on, take them off and give them to you (“put the Pilgrim’s mouth on,” “take the Pilgrim’s eyes off,” “go get the Pilgrim’s hat”)
- Tell your baby what the body parts do (“we smell with our nose,” “we hear with our ears”)
- Practice saying “uh oh” or “oh no” when the pieces fall off
- Sit eye level with your baby and name the body parts, encourage your baby to imitate the sounds or words
- Make sound effects (snort with the nose, blow kisses with the mouth)
- Just play and engage with your baby, put the pieces on you, baby or stuffed animals. Be silly.
- Read a Thanksgiving book before or after playing with the Pilgrim face to build connections, have a look at my post Thanksgiving Books for Babies for age appropriate books.
And there you have it! This was the best I could come up with to engage my fifteen month old son in a Thanksgiving activity. It turned out cute, was educational and fun. I may brave some hand and foot print turkeys this week if I feel adventurous, will keep you posted!