Perhaps my favorite activity to do with a toddler is put on a play with them. I started putting on plays with my children at early ages, and I strongly credit it for their outstanding reading comprehension. A play is a hands-on way to understand a story. As you put on a play, you have to go back to the book or movie and remember what happens next. It is an incredible brain building activity. It sets up a great foundation for later lessons, such as reading stories about history in the elementary years or explaining moral principles using favorite stories, which will help throughout the preschool years.
You can do this at many ages. At 2 years, 4 months, at Toddler Milestone 7 “Deliberate Rearranging and Creation” you are likely to see an explosion in the desire to re-enact long(er) stories. From Misbehavior is Growth: An Observant Parent’s Guide to the Toddler Years, I describe their likely abilities at Toddler Milestone 11, which is 2 years, 10 months and why I especially recommend it at that Milestone.
Put on a Play
I put on plays all throughout toddlerhood (and older!) but how we used them changed. At this age, children can remember the entire story and might even take over the process and put the whole thing on themselves. They can understand some of the simple themes of the story as well. They can project what they want to do into the future and can follow the steps to get there so well that a play is a perfect activity. This is a great activity to build reading comprehension. Some favorites for my children were Cinderella, The Gingerbread Man, The Three Little Pigs, and The Great Pie Robbery by Richard Scarry.
I describe in this blog post our journey to decide how we did plays and their benefit.