Activity: Explore the Tallgrass Prairie, our Heritage
Take a walk in the prairie. Explore the different colors, textures and heights of the plants that grow in the prairie. A native prairie will have hundreds of different flowers, grasses, insects, animals, and birds living in it. Don’t pick the grasses or flowers as they are protected by law and are needed by those who live in the prairie. Listen to the grasses blowing, the insects buzzing, and the birds chirping.
Use native prairie plants in your home landscape. They are often low maintenance requiring no extra watering and adapt well to difficult soils. Ask your local greenhouse if they carry native plants like black-eyed susan, purple coneflower, blazing star, lead plant, or meadow rue. Mail order is available through Ion Exchange and other native seed catalogs and some local garden centers.
Activity: Prairie Peek a Boo
Tall grass is a great place to play hide and seek or just plain peek-a-boo. Pick your favorite game and give it a try.
Activity: Paint with Prairie Plants
Don’t pick the prairie plants, but use those provided to paint with. Experiment with different types of grasses and colors of paint.
Activity: Sun Catcher Butterflies
Cut out a butterfly shape from black paper. Help your toddler use a hole paper punch to make holes in the wings. He/she can make as many holes as they wish. To complete the project help your tot glue scraps of tissue paper to the back of the butterfly, over the holes. When dry, hang in a window.
Activity: Butterfly Ink Blot
Cut out a butterfly shape on white paper. The shape should be symmetrical. Fold the paper in half, and ask your toddler to finger paint half of the butterfly. When your toddler is finished, ask him/her to press the paper halves together, so that both sides will look the same. Help your toddler rub the folded paper.
Open the paper and you have a butterfly with matching wings.
Activity: Butterfly Stamps
Use various sizes of butterfly and bug stamps to create a butterfly design with your toddler. If you don’t have a non-toxic, washable ink pad, stamps can be colored with markers, then pressed on construction paper to make a butterfly creation in a variety of colors.
Activity: Bird Seed Collage
Allow your toddler to use different varieties of bird seeds to create a collage.
Activity: Funny Bunny Finger Play
This is the bunny with ears so funny (hold fingers to make bunny ears)
And this is his hole in the ground (shape fingers like a hole)
When a noise he hears, he pricks up his ears)
And then jumps in his hole so round. (use motions of rabbit jumping into hole)
Activity: Funny Bunny Jump
Show your tot how to jump or step into a hula hoop bunny hole. Use your fingers to make bunny ears. FYI for parents: rabbits in North America do not have holes or burrows. Their nests are shallow depressions in the ground. They do not live underground as hares do in Europe. Rabbits are born blind, helpless, and odorless. If you find a baby animal, leave it there if possible. Mamma isn’t far away. She watches from a distance. She will visit the babies briefly to feed them and then leaves quickly as she doesn’t want to attract predators to her babies with her scent.
Activity: Zig-zag Bunny
When rabbits are afraid first they freeze, hoping not to be seen. If that doesn’t work, they run in a zig-zag pattern, making it hard for predators to catch them. Show your tot a zig-zag by drawing one in sand. Ask your tot, “Can you draw a zig-zag in the sand? It looks like the letter Z.”
Older toddlers may want to pretend to be bunnies in this modified freeze tag game. In the Zig-Zag Game, one person is the fox and the others pretend to be bunnies chewing on clover. When the fox says “BOO” the bunnies freeze like statues. When the fox says, “I found you!” and points to one bunny, that bunny runs in a zig-zag to home base while the fox chases it.
Activity: Bird Sort
Gather up an assortment of toy birds: stuffed birds, plastic birds, bird picture cut outs… anything will do! Help your toddler to sort birds by color and size.
Activity: Born Free!
The thought of prairies and meadows conjure images of a wild wind whistling through tall prairie grasses. Engage your toddler in the following activities that will allow them to feel, hear, “see,” and smell the wind:
- Feel the wind- Stand with your tot in an open area. Ask your toddler to close her eyes. Tell her, “Let’s feel the wind.” Ask questions like, “Can you feel the wind on your cheeks?” or “Is the wind blowing your hair? How does it feel?” (Use words like cold, soft, or tickly)
- See the Wind- There are many things that can be used to allow your tot to gain a concept of the wind and its force. Blow bubbles and watch them fly away (dip a strawberry basket in a pan of bubble solution and ask your tot to wave it around. This can be easier than blowing through a wand for most toddlers. Hold a pinwheel in the air and watch it spin. Run with scarves or long pieces of crepe paper. Look for flags waving in the wind, trees blowing, or clouds moving. That’s the wind!
- Hear the Wind- On a windy day, stand quietly with your tot outdoors and ask them to listen to the wind with you. Ask, “Can you hear the wind whistling in your ears?” or “Do you hear the leaves rustling on the trees?” “What sound does the wind make? Swish-sh-sh-sh-sh.”
- Smell the wind- On a windy day, take your toddler outdoors and ask them to smell the wind (the wind carries “scent” molecules which allows you to smell things from afar). Show them how to take a deep breath in through their nose. What do you smell? Flowers from the garden? Rotting leaves? Wet soil after a rain? Hamburgers on the barbecue?
Activity: Fabric Flower Match
Gather several types of fabric scraps in different patterns. Make pairs of flowers by cutting each piece of fabric into two flowers. Glue each piece of fabric to tag board. The flowers do not need to be the same shape. Show the flowers to your toddler and let them find matches. Place the flowers in a basket so they can carry their basket of flowers from place to place.
Activity: Wildflower Hunt
“Wildflowers are for looking, not touching.” These words can be frustrating for a toddler who explores largely by touch. Ease their frustration by strewing bunches of plastic flowers throughout the yard. Give your little one a basket or bag and tell them to gather the flowers. Make it into a hunting game that can be played on a rainy day. Hide flowers under the kitchen chairs, behind the couch, or on big sister’s bed. This is a good time to introduce concepts of over, under, and behind. You can also use this activity to teach color. Say something like, “What color is that flower?” or “You found a yellow flower!”
Activity: Sensory Seed Box
Fill a large container with a grain, like flax or rice. Use cups, containers, and spoons, to fill and dump just like you would in a sandbox. Hide flowers, plastic prairie animals and insects in the box. Ask your tot to feel around and find the hidden items.
Finger Plays and Songs
Flannel board Flowers
Make four flowers out of felt and place them on the board. Remove the flowers as you recite the poem.
Four little flowers
I did see.
I picked one,
Then there were three.
Three little flowers
Pretty and new
I picked another,
Then there were two.
Two little flowers
Out in the sun
I picked one more,
Then there was one.
One little flower
Left in the sun.
I picked it too,
Then there was none!
Five Purple Violets
One purple violet in our garden grew
Up popped another, and that made two
Two purple violets were all that I could see
But I found another, and that made three
Three purple violets, if I could find one more,
We’d give them to mother. We’d have four!
Four purple violets. Sure as you’re alive!
Why here is another! And now there are five.
Five little flowers (hold up five fingers)
Standing in the sun
See their heads nodding (make fingers nod)
Bowing, one by one. (make fingers bow)
Down, down, down
Falls the gentle rain, (flutter fingers downward)
And the five little flowers
Lift up their heads again! (hold up five fingers)
Where are the baby mice?
Squeak, squeak, squeak
I do not see them
Peek, peek, peek
Here they come out of the hole in the wall.
One, two, three, four, five. That’s all!
Hop That Rabbit
Hop that rabbit,
Jump that rabbit,
Run that rabbit,
Thump that rabbit,
(While bouncing tot on your knee gently)
The Bee Hive
Here is the bee hive, (fist)
Where are the bees? (shrug shoulders)
Hidden away where nobody sees. (look inside fist)
Watch and you’ll see them
Come out of the hive
One, two, three, four, five (count one finger for each bee)
Buzzzz! (Flutter fingers)
Five Little Snakes Finger Play & Flannel Board Activity
Remove one snake at a time from the board, and put the green one on your shoulder when you remove it.
Five little snakes
Hid under Mom’s chair
My brother grabbed the red one,
Leaving four there.
Four little snakes
Swinging in a tree.
The blue one slipped and fell,
Leaving only three.
Three little snakes
Wondered what to do.
The yellow one took a nap,
Leaving only two.
Two little snakes
Basking in the sun.
The brown one slithered off,
Leaving only one.
One little green snake
Lonely as could be;
Went looking for some fun,
And came and played with me.
Activities provided by:
E Resources Group
2550 Stagecoach Road
Webster City, Iowa 50595-7375
Toddling on the Wild Side was supported by REAP-CEP.