Your two-year-old is likely starting to demonstrate more awareness of environmental sounds.
They may get excited when a car horn honks, run toward the door when they hear a knock, or be able to identify a barking dog in the distance.
Kid Sense, a paediatric Occupational and Speech Therapy centre, says linking the sounds they hear to words you can say—like honk, knock, bark—encourages aspects of your child’s receptive language (words they understand but may not be able to say quite yet).
Here’s how you can help your toddler tune into sounds:
DIY Musical Jars
Add different amounts of water to 3-5 jars of the same size. Use a metal spoon, pencil, or stick to gently tap the side of the jar, listening to the differences in pitch. Experiment with adding and taking away water to “tune” the jars.
Go on a sound walk
Invite your child to listen for sounds as you explore your neighbourhood together. As you’re walking, ask your child what they hear, and listen with them while they identify the sounds around them. Tell them what you hear: “I hear a bird chirping; I hear a car engine.”
Play “I Hear with my Little Ear”
This variation of “I Spy with my Little Eye” is a no-prep way for you and your child to listen closely and identify what you hear. You can play this at home, the park, in line at the grocery store, or anywhere you think of it. Start by telling your child what you hear: “I hear with my little ear the wind rustling the leaves”. Help bring their awareness to where the sounds are coming from with visuals: “can you see the leaves moving in the tree?”
Make a DIY drum set
Here’s how to make a drum set out of everyday household items:
- Collect cans of different sizes (from tomatoes, beans, peanut butter, etc), empty and wash them, and remove the tops.
- Apply heavy tape over the rims to make them child-safe.
- Cut the ends off of balloons and stretch the tops over the open side of the cans; secure with rubber bands.
- Use a stick, pencil, or your hands to bang the drum.
Play the drums together with your two-year-old: make a pattern with the drumbeat—ba BUM, ba BUM, ba BUM—and see if your child can repeat the pattern back to you. If they can do it, try a slightly more complex rhythm—ba ba BUM, ba ba BUM, ba ba BUM.
This kind of rhythmic sound play helps lay the foundation for language, maths, and reading skills that will develop over the months and years to come.
- Receptive language (Kid Sense)
- Activities that Explore Hearing (Scholastic Early Childhood Today)
- Infants & Toddlers: The Power of Sensory Experiences (Scholastic Early Childhood Today)
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