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A Year of Play: July

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Shared from Zero to Three (zerotothree.org)

Talk Together

  • For your baby: During your baby’s bath, you can sing Head and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes, knees and toes, head and shoulders, knees and toes. This is baby’s body! Eyes and mouth and ears and nose, ears and nose, ears and nose. Eyes and mouth and ears and nose. This is baby’s body! As you sing, be sure to gently touch each body part.
  • For your toddler: Ask your toddler Where’s your…NOSE? After he shows you, ask Where’s your…KNEE? Continue the game, giving him a kiss on each body part. With toddlers who are potty training, it is especially important to give them words to talk about their private parts. This helps children understand what is happening during potty training and to communicate more clearly with you when they feel a need to use the potty.

Read Together

  • Read books about all of our different body parts. For babies, try: Where is Baby’s Belly Button? and Toes, Ears, and Nose!, both by Karen Katz, and Ten Little Fingers and Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, both by Annie Kubler. For older toddlers, good choices include My First Body Board Book by DK Publishing, Horns to Toes and In Between by Sandra Boynton, From Head to Toe by Eric Carle, and Clarabella’s Teeth by An Vrombaut.

Play Together

  • For your baby: Try some infant massage techniques on your baby. Wait until your baby is relaxed, fed, and in a good mood. Then give it a try. Ask your baby is you can touch her, and then gently rub and massage her legs, arms, feet, and hands. (Use lotion or a physician-okayed body oil, if you’d like.) If your baby gets distressed or doesn’t like to be touched this way, stop and try again another time. As you touch your baby, talk about her different body parts. Activities like this help your baby know where her body begins and ends (a concept called “body awareness”).
  • For your toddler: Toddlers love challenges, especially as they are growing stronger and more coordinated physically. Ask your child “Can you lift your leg? Can you touch your hands to your knees?” Using the names of her body parts in context helps her learn, and also gives her a chance to show you all that she can do with her growing body. You can play a similar game outside by turning a sprinkler on (keep the spray low so that it is about the same height as your child). Then ask your toddler, Can you put your foot in the water? Can you put your hand in the water? Can you jump your whole body through the water? Make the most of July’s warm weather by doing footstep paintings outside. Pour washable tempera paint into a shallow metal dish. Lay a piece of paper in front of the dish and then another shallow pan of water on the other side of the paper. Have your child step (barefoot) into the paint, then walk all around the paper, then step into the dish of water to wash off. Have a towel handy to dry her toes. Another (less messy) idea is to trace your child’s hand or feet onto a piece of paper. Let your child color in or decorate the tracing. Then trace your hand or foot. Whose is bigger or smaller? If you can find a roll of butcher paper (available at craft stores), you can even try tracing your child’s entire body. You can talk about, draw, and color all your child’s different body parts.