Rhythm-driven songs and rhymes bring joy to young children—they learn to as-
sociate that joy with language. While the youngest children in your care may not
understand the meaning of your songs and rhymes, they can nonetheless delight
in singing and playing with words. You can teach rhythm by encouraging children
to clap along with a song or to shake or tap a musical instrument. Fingerplays like
“Itsy, Bitsy Spider” and “Pat-a-Cake” offer them the chance to develop fine-motor
skills while learning language. Playful songs, chants, and fingerplays teach infants,
toddlers, and twos to discern units of speech and to blend sounds through music.
Constant immersion in language strengthens their ability to learn language’s many
meanings and sets the stage for literacy.
All the activities in this book are accompanied by suggestions for vocabulary,
books to use, and questions to ask. Appendix B lists books I recommend by the
learning domains they best address. I hope you’ll enjoy adapting my suggestions to
the children in your care. Your creativity and imagination will expand their lives!
As a responsive caregiver, you play a critical role in the growth and development of
infants, toddlers, and two-year-olds. Children are naturally curious, and they love
to experiment with and explore the environment. You build on their curiosity by
planning and providing play-based activities. And you understand that healthy re-
lationships lie at the heart of children’s developing skills and competencies.
I created the activities in this book to strengthen your understanding of how
children grow and learn. Every one of these 101 activities stresses the importance of
responsive caregiving. Every one of them demonstrates how learning can be inte-
grated across learning domains. I hope the play activities I’ve devised motivate and
inspire you in your efforts to provide high-quality, loving care for young children. I
encourage you to use your own creativity to build and expand on my work, to tailor
it to every child you care for. Each child is unique, as you know, and each one learns
best in a loving, caring, valuing environment.
Nothing is quite as sweet or precious as young children are. The first three years
of children’s lives are so exciting. I hope the beautiful young children in your care
prompt you to try the activities in this book. And I hope this book supports you and
your program in offering quality activities to infants, toddlers, and two-year-olds.
Setting the Stage for Activities