Suggested activities for a 17 month old?
November 21, 2005 6:45 AM   Subscribe

ParentFilter: I've a 17 mo old child, and I'd like suggestions as to activities to educate and entertain him.

He's bright as a pin, and we currently do: playgroup once a week, library trips once a week, and Sesame Street daily. We read a lot, and he's really into the colouring book and crayons right now. We play of course, and go for walks. Most of the websites I've checked out suggest crafts, which is fine, but his mental abilities have outpaced his physical ones, so we're a bit limited on the craft front. He's getting bored with his current toys. Father Christmas will be bringing him new things, including a Kidzmouse keyboard and Elmo mouse to hook up to our computer, so computer stuff will have to wait until then. Any suggestions? (PS - Thanks to everyone who answered previous Ask q's about toddler websites I've bookmarked those threads!)
posted by Zinger to Education (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you have any parks or natural spaces nearby, take him there and start to teach him basic things about nature.

I would also suggest music education...listen to different kinds of music, with different instruments, and talk about it.
posted by nekton at 7:12 AM on November 21, 2005

As the parent of a four-year-old, I feel your pain. It looks like you're doing all the same types of things we did and still do to a certain extent.

As far as the crafts go, I found that my daughter just loved to dig in and get messy regardless of the result so we did a lot of finger painting and paper mache' stuff. I know the mess can be daunting but the payoff is worth it. My daughter at that age, was really into the Casio keyboard I had laying around so she went nuts on that too. Maybe some type of kid-safe musical instrument would be a good start.

One thing I still struggle with is feeling like I'm not doing enough or I'm doing too much. I always feel like I have to keep her entertained 24/7 and it's daunting sometimes. There are times I have to tell her "You'll have to find something to do on your own." A part of her development is the ability to comfort/entertain herself (within reason, of course).
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:13 AM on November 21, 2005

Gardening is an activity that I think is age appropriate throughout life, with some modifications. Even if the kid just plays in and eats dirt for the next five years (it's good for the immune system, right?) while you tend the tomatoes or whatever, there is so much to learn. Everyone needs time outdoors, and I think instilling a healthy sense of that at a young age is good. If you have a yard that the baby can crawl/walk in all the better, good for learning how to walk without stuff to grab onto and grass is pretty good for falling on. Also, you can learn about plants together, play with bugs, talk about colors, listen to sounds.

This might also be a good activity for learning about gentle (I realize that kids have little to no sense of their own power, when I volunteered at the county fair I learned why the chick cage was such a hard place to keep volunteers, the little kids hold the baby birds, and then crush them without realizing it. Many tears) because some plants don't like to be chewed on/ripped out of the ground. But since you're not gardening to have a superabundance to get you through a winter, I doubt any destruction would be a big deal.

Granted, I'm in Florida where right now is the perfect time for this activity, you may have to wait a few months.
posted by bilabial at 7:26 AM on November 21, 2005

When my little guy was that old, we'd take him to Gymboree. A blast.
posted by Scoo at 7:47 AM on November 21, 2005

I have a 20mo (& 2 older ones) and it does get difficult because they have such a short attention span. Some things I do are: rotate toys in & out; water play (dish pan or just up at the kitchen sink - this is much loved!); husband will stop at appliance stores every so often & pick up a large box - this is good for at least one day of entertainment, 1st you can paint it, then you can cut out a door & window, then they can destroy it :) ; playdoh or cookie dough just to squish around; the pop up toy tent is always a blast (fun to hide in & drag stuff into); visits to the pet store; slow walks in the neighborhood. Remember that at such a young age everything is educational.
posted by LadyBonita at 8:15 AM on November 21, 2005

Dance! I'm sure there's some educational benefit (developing rhthym or something involving math) and there's the obvious exercise benefits, but really I think that there are too few kids who dance. By kindergarten little kids already seem embarassed about it. One of the things I like best about the way my sister raises her boys is the way she encourages them to dance whenever there's music on. They are exuberant and adorable dancers.
posted by Sara Anne at 9:50 AM on November 21, 2005

Music, music, music! Sing, play music and have some instruments around.
posted by wsg at 10:06 AM on November 21, 2005

Learn another language that will allow him to express himself better.
posted by plinth at 10:39 AM on November 21, 2005

Teach them animal noises, not just dog, cat, cow, but ones with silly noises and animals they don't actually come in contact with (elephant, lions, tigers, panthers...etc...). This will later lead to curiosity about things in their natural world as they grow older.
posted by nadawi at 10:42 AM on November 21, 2005

This advice will sound horribly anti-intellectual at first, but hear me out.

Lose the Sesame Street and get with the Teletubbies.

Sesame Street is packed with alot of stuff for older kids and alot of stuff for you, and those chunks of it are pure noise to your 17mo. Teletubbies is entirely at the tot's level, which is why it's so damn hard for us to watch. But the crucial thing that the Teletubbies get right is the crystal clear boundary between fantasy-world and the real-world. Of course, YMMV, so if the kid's already digging on SS and singing along and laughing at the gags, what the hell...

Also: Puzzles and blocks.

My other advice would be to back off the television to once or twice a week, and have more playgroup & library kindsa activities.
posted by Eothele at 10:56 AM on November 21, 2005

Boomwhackers. My 10 and 5 year old love them, and I can't see why a toddler wouldn't love them as well.

At that age my boys particularly enjoyed books like this, with lots and lots of pictures of things both familiar and unfamiliar.

A nice set of Duplo blocks or these bristly ones will get played with for a long time

Have fun!
posted by Biblio at 11:37 AM on November 21, 2005

Lose the Sesame Street and get with the Teletubbies.
posted by Eothele

I'm laughing right now. I almost mentioned the same thing but didn't want to bring TV into it. But yes, Tubbies are much better for a 17mo, 2 of my 3 kids really enjoyed that show & we all learned a lot (such as how to tidy up).
posted by LadyBonita at 3:41 PM on November 21, 2005

We just play. Play play play. Fisher-Price Little People are the biggest draw for my 17MO right now--she likes to match up the Noah's Ark animals, and we practice the noises they make.

We do some pretend play--she likes to carry around a doll and push it in a stroller and pat it on the back, she likes the toy kitchen and toy food. We have a lot of musical instruments, and there is much jamming.

We do some "whatever Mama's doing"--she plays with wooden spoons and tupperware while I cook, she pushes a toy broom when I Swiff the place, she has a dustrag of her own, she likes to ride the vacuum and unfold the laundry.

We play a lot of rolling catch. We put stuff into bags and boxes and drag it around. We wrestle (actually, she wrestles with her 3YO sister). We read a lot of books, and sing a lot of songs.
posted by padraigin at 4:21 PM on November 21, 2005

Thanks for all your suggestions.

Re: Teletubbies, I did try him on that, but it bores him completely.

He's well on his way to having worked out the alphabet, as he's able to point to individual letters when asked, and he can say all the vowel sounds and about five consonants. The tougher sounds defeat him still, but he's working on it. This isn't due to Sesame Street as much as he and I working together but certainly SS reinforces it. I think he's bored by Teletubbies because they're not speaking like he wants to be able to.

Sesame Street he'll sit through and watch from start to finish, and even applaud at the end. I may have created an "Ehmow!" groupie. ;)
posted by Zinger at 4:46 PM on November 22, 2005

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