Toddler Time - Spatial Concepts

Today I decided to try something different. I decided I was going to do a Toddler Time about spatial concepts: up, down, behind, under, etc.
We started off by singing our usual opening song "We Clap and Sing Hello" and even though this is only the second week (last week was yet another snow storm and I canceled) the kids clapped along with the song. Yay!

We had so much fun with the scarves in the last Toddler Time I decided to pull them out right at the start and have the kids "read" the book with them.

Before I started our first book, Elephants Aloft by Kathi Appelt and illustrated by Keith Baker, I introduced our first literacy tip. Today's tip was: 'Understanding different concepts, like number, shape, position and sorting helps children as they try to solve problems and to understand how their world works. Using our scarves and our first story [title, author, illustrator], we're going to explore some different spatial concepts like above and below.'

As I read the words (there's only one or two words per page) I had the kids act out the words with their scarves. It was perfect. They got to play with their scarves and it turned our story into an interactive one.
I did skip a few pages (the ones with concepts that were too difficult for our scarf play) but this was an awesome story for concepts and for toddlers. After the story we practiced the concepts again with our scarves, but without the book. Our final spatial concept was "beneath" and I had the kids sit on their scarves for the next activity.

This was the first time I did a flannel board with this group of toddlers and I had misgivings on how well it would work out. Surprisingly, it worked pretty well. I let the toddlers help me, and they got really into it. For this week we did "Little Mouse." So Tomorrow has great instructions for using this flannel activity. Basically it's a game of peek-a-boo where you hide a mouse behind a colored house and say "Little Mouse, Little Mouse, are you behind the [color] house? Since I have really little ones I only used two colors at a time and had the kids cover their eyes. They LOVED it. We may do it again next week. :)
I'm not sure who originally created it, but it's all over the place and I've used it in the past. Anne Clark over at

We read Peek-A-Moo by Marie Torres Cimarusti and illustrated by Stephanie Peterson next. This is an old favorite for so many toddlers. We took turns playing Peek-A-Boo with the pages.
I had another early literacy tip for this story. I explained how even though the animals are covering their faces children will use visual cues to determine what animal is playing. That the visual cues help children to learn to classify and begin to think about concepts.

Many of the parents still look at me with vague expressions on their faces when I do the early literacy tips, but I'm going to press on. They're starting to get used to them. And I'm hoping they're sticking.

Our final activity was another old favorite. Baa Baa Black Sheep. I used a variation I've had in my song file for a little while, that I believe comes from I Love You Rituals (it's been so long this might be wrong) but the variation is:
Baa baa black sheep have you any wool?
Yes ma’am, yes ma’am three bags full.
One for mittens
One for a cap
And one for the little one who sits on my lap. (Originally he/she, but I made gender neutral.)
     (If you know where I got this please comment)

We were next supposed to read Where is Green Sheep by Mem Fox, but the kids just weren't into another book. I think last week the same thing happened and I said only two books, but I forgot. Oh well. Next week!

Before I broke out the toys I had a "special" activity for the parents this time. I had created a "Feely Box" for the kids to play with. A Feely Box is a toy that lets children determine what an object is by touch alone. Toddlers love to investigate the world around them. It helps them figure out how things work. A Feely Box takes advantage of their natural curiosity while giving them a chance to develop fine motor skills. I made an example for parents and provided this handout by Brenda Bush (I left mine plain oatmeal to show parents how to make one). She did such a fantastic job with her handout I also printed copies for parents to bring home. (Thanks Brenda!) At first the kids were very confused by it, but then got into it. They had lots of fun stuffing items in and then pulling them out. Crumpled paper was big, as were the pieces from our Tupperware shape sorting ball.


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