Wear out your toddler as she learns through movement.

Activities for Toddlers in Mom & Tot Classes

by Shala Munroe

When you're desperate for some adult interaction but don't want to leave your toddler behind, get your much-needed socialization at a mom and tot class. The activities keep your wee one occupied and engaged while you get ideas for at-home play and a chance to commiserate with other toddler moms. With luck, the activities will give you an added bonus: a worn-out child ready for a nice, long nap.

1. Music

When you've run out of ideas to keep your little Beethoven engaged, take her to a mom and tot class to learn new songs. Music helps your tot learn new words and practice memorization, according to the Zero to Three organization. Mom and tot classes use repetitive songs, such as "The Wheels on the Bus" or "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," then they often have you and the other moms stay silent on certain words to encourage your toddlers to think about what comes next. Mom and tot music classes also let you dive into the instrument box to grab instruments such as tambourines or maracas for the kids to go crazy with to help develop a sense of rhythm.

2. Gross Motor Skills

Raising the world's next soccer star -- or just helping your toddler get up when she falls -- means you must help her develop her gross motor skills. Bean bags aren't just for chairs anymore; the small ones can bring squeals of delight from a room full of toddlers. In toddler-age classes, your tot is introduced to tossing bean bags into an empty trash can, for example. To help develop hand-eye coordination, the bins are moved to different areas of the room. Praise her toss even when she misses, which is likely to be most of the time. As she runs to pick up the bean bag and bends down to pick it up, she's practicing more gross motor skills.The classes also guide you to toss the bags back and forth to help her develop her catching skills as well as her throwing arm.

3. Fine Motor Skills

Your toddler's job is a difficult one -- getting ready for preschool isn't for sissies -- but it can still be fun. Mom and tot classes can give your toddler a powerful head start by developing her fine motor skills through art. She can create art masterpieces using play-dough, finger paint and crayons. The play-dough helps strengthen her finger muscles so she'll be ready to hold a pencil and scissors when preschool time arrives, so it's fine to let her squish all the colors together until every jar has only brown inside. Talk to her about the colors as she mushes them between her fingers. Learning to identify colors helps her get one step closer to being ready for preschool, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Finger paint is messier than crayons, but often more fun for toddlers -- just be sure to leave the toddler couture at home when finger painting is scheduled.

4. Movement

Because toddlers are perpetually in motion, movement activities are ideal ways to teach your child how to follow directions and express herself. Mom and tot classes often offer songs during music time that have a movement element, such as the "Hokey Pokey." Your toddler will enjoy the movements more when you do them too, although you don't have to admit how much you enjoy sticking your left foot in. The class teacher might give each mom a movement, such as jumping, hopping or crawling, and start a game of follow the leader, with moms taking turns leading the kids around the room. If you can keep the kids awake after all that movement, they can enjoy an indoor obstacle course where the tots can crawl through collapsible tunnels, roll under a bridge the moms form with their arms and step over broomsticks or jump ropes on the ground.

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