A Toddler – A little scientist

Today’s guest blog posts deals with helping your little ones  develop their first life experiments. This post is filled with all sorts of tips which you can incorporate when creating your TinyTap games. The important thing to remember is that while it may appear that your little one is simply playing with a tablet or iPhone, you’ll soon see that they’re actually on the verge of an important scientific breakthrough.
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One of my favorite things to do lately is to watch my son play and discover the world. What has become obvious and ordinary for us grownups, is new and innovative for a toddler. S/he explores the world, the cause and effect phenomena and uses his/her newly acquired skills to test every new item s/he comes across.
 
When a toddler throws a plate full of food on the ground, s/he is actually experimenting to see what will happen once the plate falls on the ground. Our reaction to this occurrence plays a large role in our little scientist’s experiment. Toddlers learn from cause and effect as a simple logic condition – if a then b. They come to expect the connection between an action like shaking a rattle and the sound it makes.
 

Little scientists in a touchscreen age

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When a toddler is exposed to touchscreen technology s/he experiences a similar cause-effect learning environment that s/he would encounter when shaking a rattle or throwing a plate of food. By engaging in all these activities a child is testing the simple law that every action has a reaction.
 
Games/ apps for kids provide a colorful world for them to play and learn specific skills. When a child masters skills while playing a game or playing an app, the child often gains more confidence than from other activities. This is because with games and apps feedback is immediate and often designed to reinforce success.
 

If Toddlers are little scientists – What are we here for?

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Think of yourself as your toddler’s guide teaching him/her to be an independent and curious observer who loves to learn and explore. You provide a lot of opportunities for your toddler to experiment with new concepts and ideas that s/he is learning. You can choose from a variety of activities designed for toddlers to help them develop a specific skill set. A few examples:
 
* Each little scientist is special
 
Like all adults, all toddlers are different and have individual interests (which vary throughout their childhood). Observe and learn what your toddler’s exploring preferences are and allow him/her to explore them as often as possible.
 
If s/he prefers to experiment with her hands, provide a variety of objects that she can open and close, take apart or transport using building blocks, cars and wheels or even old purses with different locks (make sure they’re child safe first). If your toddler loves to watch the natural physical world – you can take him/her outside, and show her flowers and leaves. This is a great way to expose your little one to different textures, colors and smells.
 
Once you know what your toddler’s favorite objects or games are, you will become the best person to design customized games for him/her.
 
* Make some order in this chaotic world
 
One of the most important abilities a toddler develops in his/her first few years is the ability to sort similar objects into groups. This skill is acquired naturally earlier than you realize. For example when my son started to point at every cat in the street and call it “Tai” (that’s our cat’s name), he was actually using the word “Tai” as a synonym for
cat. As a result, all the cats he saw were immediately categorized by him as “Tai”.
 
In order to help your child in acquiring this skill, show him/her how s/he can sort his/her toys or various objects by shape, size or color. A variety of games can provide excellent exercise for acquiring this categorizing skill.
 
* Memory is learning’s best friend
 
Your toddler’s memory grows and improves when she recognizes familiar people, objects and situations. The most important thing needed to develop this is repetition. Once your toddler encounters the same situations over and over again, s/he knows what to expect and remembers the sequence of events.
 

For toddlers and babies a predictable world is a safe and easy world to understand. When you introduce new and unpredictable situations to your toddler, s/he will be fascinated by them and will expand her knowledge.
 
This skill is developed and naturally and be enhanced using various activities. For example, even when you read a book to your toddler or play a game, and point out the same
objects/characters, you will notice how fast she remembers those items when you ask her about them each time.

 

Jenny Maidel Kravetsky (2 Posts)

Jenny Maidel Kravetsky is a mother to Matan. She had studied and worked in the areas of user interface design, development of tutorials and educational games, and online collaborative reading. She has also worked as an educator for elementary school students, and tutored children from disadvantaged families. Jenny holds a B.A. in pre-school education and comparative literature and an M.A. in Educational Technology (both from Bar-Ilan University).


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