The Bell Center Toddler Times

October 2017


The 2017-2018 school year is in full swing at The Bell Center.  Earlier in September, past and present TBC families joined us at the Birmingham Zoo for an exciting evening with the animals and enjoyed a catered meal from Taziki’s.  Be on the lookout for future TBC events as poinsettia sales are underway and the Mercedes Marathon will be here in no time.

The themes for October are FARM and PUMPKINS.  Our teachers and therapists have some creative ways on how to incorporate the October themes into the classrooms.  Below are some ideas you can try at home!

Fun Activities

  • Muddy Pig – Print a pig color sheet on pink cardstock paper and let it get “muddy” by finger-painting with chocolate pudding.
  • Wash the farm animals – Mix cornstarch, water and paint (for color) to create a mixture to cover toy farm animals. Bathe animals and rinse until clean.
  • Pumpkin Volcano – Hollow a medium size pumpkin and drop about a cup of baking soda into the pumpkin. Add a generous amount of dish soap.  Pour vinegar into the pumpkin until the mixture begins to react.
  • Pumpkin Hammering – Using a small to medium pumpkin, several golf tees, and a toy mallet, let children practice fine motor skills by “hammering” golf tees into the pumpkin. You can follow a predetermined design or just let your child’s creativity guide them.

Songs/Nursery Rhymes

  • Farmer in the Dell
  • Farm Sounds (…the cow in the barn goes moo, moo, moo)
  • B-I-N-G-O
  • I’m a Little Pumpkin
  • 5 Little Pumpkins


  • The Big Red Barn
  • Sheep in a Jeep
  • Farmer Will
  • The Mystery Vine
  • Pumpkin, Pumpkiin
  • It’s Pumpkin Time


We will be learning all about farm animals and pumpkins in the month of October. In order to reinforce the vocabulary that we will use at The Bell Center, here are some fun activities to try at home. These activities can involve so much language by using a strategy called descriptive talk, which is basically talking through everything you do and everything your child does in narrative form. Involve the whole family and have fun enjoying the fall weather. It’s a great time to be outside with your children.

  1. Take a toy barn outside and play with farm animals on the ground. Hide some of the animals in the grass or leaves.
  2. Talk about the pumpkins as you pass them at the grocery store. Don’t forget about those describing words like big, little, orange, round, and bumpy.
  3. Take a trip to the petting zoo to get a live experience of the farm animals we are learning about in class.
  4. Make pumpkin muffins or pancakes for breakfast. Involve your child by having him help stir and pour.

Occupational Therapy:

The fall is here and with the cooler weather, there are more opportunities for wagon rides outside. Riding in a wagon provides good input to your child’s balance and sensation to their joints since the ride is usually a little bumpy. It gives them the opportunity to further develop their core strength by them keeping themselves upright. Feel free to add supports if your child is unstable in sitting. You can add support with firm pillows, rolled up towels, or even a booster seat with a strap until your child is strong enough. In occupational therapy, we often reinforce shoulder and arm strength to support fine motor development. If your child is walking they can get behind the wagon and push it to help you move it forward. It’s great to add a friend or something weighted to make it even more challenging. Indoors you can reinforce strength building by having them push a box or plastic box/barrel that is weighted around the house. Most toddlers love to do this! The wagon or container height should be right at chest level. Another way we develop shoulder strength in children who are walking or not is to lie on our tummies with propped elbows while looking at a book, coloring, or playing cars. If your child has difficulty lifting their head or keeping their weight through their elbows and forearms feel free to roll a towel to place under the chest for support. If you have any questions regarding specific needs of your child please ask your team members for suggestions.

Physical Therapy:

Fall is coming and we all hope to be outside more often!  Let us know if you want input on games and activities to play outside with your child.  Crawl, sit, and walk in and on different surfaces.  Play with leaves and grass in sitting.  Go for a walk or play outside and help your child cruise, step, ride a ride on toy, ride a tricycle, go up and down curbs, or walk on a crack in the side walk with a foot over foot position. Swinging is also a great outdoor activity.  You can play games as you swing and push them fast and slow.  You can sway them side to side or even try spinning.  These same games that you play in the swing can be played with you holding your child cradled and swinging and swaying your body.

Ball play is a fun game and develops many skills both motor and social.  It is great to play ball while in different positions.  A typical progression to try with your child would be based on your child’s current skills.  You can sit and roll the ball back and forth.  You can progress to throwing the ball back and forth while still in sitting.  Practicing while in sitting gains your child’s attention, encourages playing one activity for a few minutes, and takes the challenge of balance out of the equation.  The next step is to stand up and throw the ball back and forth with one parent helping the child do the throwing and the catching.  Playing ball in standing will work on hand and eye coordination, furthering balance skills, and shoulder and hand use.  You can also have your child use two hands and hold the ball over their head and throw forward.  You can practice throwing balls into large containers and at targets.  The most challenging ball play would be to be in standing and kick a ball.  Children have to have the strength and the balance to shift their weight all the way to one foot and then kick with the other.  Often the first kicking may look like walking into a ball.  You can hold your child’s hips or hands to give them stability to try to kick.  You can take their foot and help them complete the kicking motion.  Sometimes the hardest part is teaching them that you are asking them to use their feet and not their hands for this play activity.