Toddler Times March 2018

Monthly Theme: Transportation and Community Helpers

Signs:  car, truck, boat, policeman, doctor, fireman, up, down, stop, go

Key Vocabulary Words: car, truck, airplane, train, boat, bus, teacher, policeman, fireman, doctor, over, under, up, down, stop, go, fast, slow

Songs, Nursery Rhymes, and Finger Plays

Wheels on the Bus

Little Red Wagon

Little Hunk of Tin

Hurry, Hurry, Drive the Fire Truck

Row Your Boat

Teacher Time

Hello families! March is such an exciting month here at The Bell Center! Our theme this month is Transportation and Community Helpers. We will focus our activities around cars, trucks, boats, firemen and so much more!  It’s always fun to go outside when the weather is nice and bring your cars or bikes. Below are some activities and books you can enjoy with your family while reinforcing the transportation and community helper theme. We hope you enjoy!

Some activities you can work on at home include: playing Red Light, Green Light (working on stopping and going), making a traffic light craft using red, yellow and green circles with torn construction or tissue paper. You can also have a race with your toy cars, big or small.

This theme is a great way to incorporate colors and sizes. You can sort vehicles by color and/or size. Some children enjoy driving their modes of transportation through cake mix, pudding, or playdough then washing them off in soapy bubbles. This is a great theme to incorporate a pretend play opportunity. You can achieve this by playing with cars or trains with duct-tape roads or setting up a time to play doctor with a stuffed animal or a baby doll!

There are so many fun community helper and transportation books that we could read here at The Bell Center. Be sure to ask any Bell Center staff member if you have a question about a book! Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Duck in a Truck
  • Red Truck
  • Boats
  • Sheep in a Jeep
  • Going to the Doctor, Dentist or School (three different books)
  • Elmo P olice Officer
  • Freight Train
  • Diggers
  • I Love Trucks

You can always ask a Bell Center staff member about any book, song or general question you have! We look forward to having another great month with the children here at The Bell Center! Also remember, we will be closed from March 27th-30th for spring break. Enjoy this time off with your family!


Jack and Jill went up the…

Can you remember all the words to your favorite childhood nursery rhymes?  Each month at The Bell Center, we include nursery rhymes into our small group activities.  This month you may hear    “Miss Polly had a Dolly,” a nursery rhyme about a sick doll who is taken to the doctor, and “Row, Row, Row your Boat.”  Other than the fact that children enjoy nursery rhymes, there are several important reasons to include them in chants, songs, reading materials, and activities.

  • Learning nursery rhymes early in life can help later when learning to read. Nursery rhymes teach children about silly words, uncommon vocabulary, and words that rhyme.
  • Nursery rhymes provide repetition. We all know young children learn from and enjoy repetition.
  • Nursery rhymes allow you a fun way to spend time with your child. Most importantly, time reading with your child.
  • Enjoying nursery rhymes can allow you to work on a variety of skills and goals. Acting out a nursery rhyme to target gross motor goals:
    • Crawling: “Itsy Bitsy Spider” – crawled up the spout again
    • Running: “Hickory Dickory Dock” – the mouse ran down the clock, “Hey Diddle Diddle” – and the dish ran away with the spoon, and “Three Blind Mice” – see how they run
    • Rolling: “Jack and Jill” – Jill came tumbling after, “Humpty Dumpty” – had a great fall
    • Jumping: “Jack Be Nimble” – Jack jumped over the candlestick, “The Cat and the Fiddle” – the cow jumped over the moon

Any of the classic nursery rhymes are also wonderful for helping with your child’s speech development.  Sing simple songs and nursery rhymes help display the rhythm and pattern of speech and develop language skills.  Nursery rhymes are customary songs or poems taught to kids, initially in nursery school.  Learning these rhymes assists in the expansion of language, and more than a few examples deal with basic counting skills.   At home you can incorporate nursery rhymes and make learning language fun with these activities:

Cook up nursery rhyme language development

Extend children’s nursery rhyme experiences with cooking activities based on familiar rhymes.  Engage children in planning fun snacks such as Little Miss Muffet’s curds ‘n’ whey (i.e., cottage cheese, which could be paired with a healthy fruit), The Queen of Hearts tarts (you might have an apple pie), or how about some Humpty Dumpty scrambled eggs.

Nursery rhyme theater

Invite children to use their nursery rhyme book to perform a family theatre show. While an adult or older sibling chants or sings the nursery rhyme, they can encourage your child to pretend to be Jack jumping over the candlestick, Old Mother Hubbard looking through her cupboard, and so on.  Providing props to enhance the dramatic play can help the rhyme come to life.  And by the way, many of your children learned about “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” last month.  They pretended to stir, eat, or blow on the three-sized bowls of hot, cold, “just right” oatmeal (remember, each member of the bear family had their own right-sized bowl).  Next they climbed up on an adult-sized chair (Papa Bear’s), and medium size chair (Mama Bear’s), and a chair that fit them perfectly. Of course, it fell down and broke in the story – not in the classroom.  And lastly they pretended to fall asleep on the bear family’s beds; one was too hard and too tall (a large mat), one was too soft (we used a beanbag for Mama Bear’s bed, but at home you could always use a pillow), and then they found the bed that was “just right.”  We had a blast!

If you are a bit rusty and cannot remember all of the words, nursery rhymes are easy to locate.  They can be found on albums (e.g., “Rap and Rhyme”), apps on your phone or tablet, in books, and even toys.  Now go out there and make Mother Goose proud!

OT Tidbit

Our transportation theme this month allows for a lot of opportunities to get your child moving in different ways.  It is always great to work on building your child’s strength by performing large movements because it sets them up to be more successful in developing more refined movements!  For instance, increasing trunk and shoulder strength will make it easier for your child to reach and manipulate items with their hand and wrist.  Positions of play that provide for this type of strengthening include play activities spent on hands and knees, laying on belly on the floor and reaching, pushing toys up an incline, and twisting and reaching to each side.  To continue exploration of our monthly theme at home you can encourage your child to use toy cars, trucks, fire engines to push along the floor, over surfaces, up walls and out to their side.  This is especially helpful for your kids that are walking or cruising, as you can entice them to get back down on hands and knees and spend some time continuing to strengthen their upper body and trunk.

This theme also presents some nice opportunities to develop visual perceptual skills by identifying and manipulating simple shapes.  You can begin to relate some shapes from a simple toy sorter to shapes encountered in familiar books.  Transportation themed books often provide many examples of a circle, square, or triangle within a picture.  You can also continue this exploration of shapes while playing with food.  Utilize foods of various shapes to build basic cars or boats.  There are pretzels you can buy in various circle or square shapes.  Using frosting, or peanut butter you can build a car by placing circle pretzels on a graham cracker.  Cheese can be cut into squares and triangles, and you can construct a sail boat using a pretzel stick as your mast.  Have fun encouraging your child to move and manipulate with this very fun theme!

PT Pointers

In March, we are talking about transportation. During our class time, we will be trying out activities with ride in cars, ride on toys, and tricycles. We will continue to work on the concepts of stop and go and in and out. We may practice driving backwards and forwards and driving small cars on pretend roadways in the class. We may even have a car wash. Ride on toys and tricycles can be great tools for creative play and gross motor balance, strength and motor planning skills.

Riding toys and tricycles are very beneficial for children. First, when you have your child work on climbing on and off the trike they are working on improving balance and strength especially in their legs. When they assist in pedaling the tricycle or moving the ride toy they are strengthening their leg muscles and working on trunk balance as they sit on the tricycle. As they keep both hands on the handle bars to steer, your child is learning to coordinate their upper extremities and they are learning concepts about turning to left and right and avoiding obstacles.  Tricycles can especially help a child work on endurance. When your child is assisting you in pedaling or moving the toy forward for longer distances and longer periods of time they are increasing their heart rate and increasing repetitions of movement. You can take bikes, trikes, ride-on toys, walkers or push toys to parks, or you can practice these in the driveway as well.

If your child has difficulty keeping their feet on pedals, there are foot blocks for sale online that will allow you to strap their feet onto the pedals. You can go to for more details.

If you have any questions, or need additional ideas, please ask your child’s physical therapist.  Enjoy the outdoors and spring weather as it starts to warm up!