Toddler Times April 2018

Monthly Theme: Zoo Animals and Pets

Signs: monkey, elephant, bear, tiger, lion, dog, cat

Key Vocabulary Words: bear, monkey, tiger, giraffe, elephant, zoo, tall, short, big, little, fur

Nursery Rhymes and Finger Plays

  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
  • Five Little Monkeys Swinging from a Tree
  • At the Zoo
  • Going on a Bear Hunt
  • Bear Went Over the Mountain

Teacher Time 

Spring is in the air at The Bell Center!  The themes of April are Zoo Animals and Pets. April is a great month to get outside and visit the Birmingham Zoo, if you can. They have lots of wonderful animals to see! Below are some fun activities and books you can enjoy with your family while reinforcing the Zoo Animal and Pets theme!

Some activities you can work on at home include: match animal sounds to pictures or a toy, cut animal shapes from play dough, create a pretend zoo habitat, sort zoo animals, make an animal with stripes using Q-tips as the brush, make a paper lion face, or try reading Head to Toe and act out the movements.

There are so many fun Zoo Animal and Pet books that we could read here at The Bell Center. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Big
  • Who’s Nose, Who’s Toes?
  • What’s Happening at the Zoo
  • Polar Bear, Polar Bear
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear
  • Dear Zoo
  • Zoo Parade
  • Who’s That Scratching at my Door?
  • If You’re Happy and You Know It (Jungle Edition)
  • Head to Toe


Happy spring everyone! And boy, do we have some WILD things planned for your children at The Bell Center this month! Activities this month will be filled will all of the zoo animals and pets you can imagine. A fun way to support this theme at home includes reading books. Books are a wonderful way to target both receptive and expressive language skills while still incorporating our animal theme. One of our favorite books this month is “Dear Zoo,” but the options are endless!

  • Expressive Language (use of language to communicate):
    • Help your child learn animal sounds while reading. Model barking like a dog, chirping like a bird, roaring like a lion, or trumpeting like an elephant depending on the animals you see in the book.
    • Teach your child words for various animals as you discuss what you see on each page. Point to the animals while naming them and encourage them to imitate the words.
    • We also teach signs for various animals this month. Signs for the month include monkey, elephant, bear, tiger, dog, cat, and Model these signs for your child while encouraging them to do as well (sign list can be found at the end of the Toddler Times newsletter)
  • Receptive Language (understanding of language):
    • Ask your child to identify pictures of animals in books. For example, ask “where is the lion?” while waiting to see if they will demonstrate understanding by looking or pointing. You also can model the correct response.
    • Work on identifying body parts. Ask your child to identify the animal’s mouth, feet, and ears while reading.
    • Incorporate direction following while reading. Ask your child to follow directives such as “pat the dog.” You may also model this for your child and see if they will imitate you.

OT Tips

The theme for the month of April in our classes is zoo animals. We will be incorporating tactile bins into our play with plastic farm animals. Children in early childhood are “sensori-motor thinkers” meaning that they understand their world based on physical experiences. Sensitivity to textures begins on a continuum from dry to wet to squishy. Dry texture bins can include various fabrics, dry oatmeal, rice, or cornmeal. Wet and squishy texture bins can be filled with water, cooked pasta, and wet oat/cornmeal. ALWAYS supervise children when they are playing with tactile bins since oral exploration is common at this age. If your child has difficulty touching a variety of textures you can ease them into by giving them a tool such as a spoon, cup, or toy. It’s better to start off introducing a texture with one toy and adding in more as they play. Starting with a lot of toys can over-stimulate a child and they can react with avoidance or non-purposeful play such as throwing or banging. Children also like to play “hide and seek” by covering the animals in texture and finding them. By playing with textures kids develop hand skills and cognitively they learn that things can change shape and density unlike plastic and wooden toys.  You can have fun too by modeling play behavior and talk about what each plastic animal is and what they are doing. Above all, have fun with learning!

PT Pointers

Class time in April will include using books; CD’s and music that help us act out different zoo animal actions.  A favorite book is Eric Carl’s Head to Toe.  Our large book shows flamingos that stand on one foot, gorillas that thump their chest, snakes that crawl on the ground, and donkeys that play in all fours and kick.  Books and music can be great motivators to practice these skills.  Make the animal sounds and get down on the floor as a whole family to practice these skills with your child.

Also in April, your physical therapist will once again look at the equipment you are currently using to see if your child needs his own equipment ordered.  He may need his own splints, hip pants, or walker.  If your child is graduating in May, we may need to order equipment so that you can return equipment to The Bell Center that has been loaned to you.

We will also take inventory of any equipment that you have checked out at home.  It would help us greatly if you would just bring in a sheet of paper with a list of any equipment that you have at home or you may email us this information.  On that sheet or email, include your child’s name, a description of the equipment, and the size of the equipment.  If you have any concerns at all about the fit of the piece, please discuss it with your therapist and bring it in for us to see.

We would also love to have any hand me downs you are no longer using.  We especially need tennis shoes that are wide and are in size 3, 4, and 5.  We need hip pants that you are not using, braces, arch supports, and jumpstarts that you are not using.  If you have a walker, or other PT related piece of equipment we would love that also.  Thank you for taking time during your own spring cleaning to check your closets for items that belong to The Bell Center.

If you are using items and they fit well, please keep them but just bring us a piece of paper or email us with the description so we can double check that with our data base.