Toddler Activity Cards

Hey there! We’re in week three of home isolation due to the Covid-19 virus. Our son, Diego, is turning two years old in a few days, and for him, the change in routine was pretty drastic. He had been in a Montessori preschool (which he loved) for five days a week from 9am t0 3pm and he and I usually went to the library, playground or YMCA after that. All of a sudden, his school and those outings were not options anymore, and outside time was restricted to wooded areas of our local park, which we’re lucky to have access to. Add to that the fact that we moved apartments (within the same neighborhood) just days before home isolation started and you have a recipe for big time toddler freakout. It was rough going for a few weeks, let me tell you. I knew he needed a new routine to help him feel secure.

Diego in his happy place
Diego in his happy place

I had seen people making visual schedules for toddlers and young kids before (I especially like Lucy Knisley’s set!), and I thought this was fantastic way to help toddlers feel like they know what is coming in their day. Diego being as little as he is, I figured that a linear schedule probably would be too much (he has no concept of time besides “soon”) and I decided to make single picture cards to describe the activities in his day. Transitions are hard for toddlers, and I thought that showing him the cards might help him understand better when we switch from one thing to the next. I drew them with pencil and colored pencil, laminated them (I bought a laminating machine on eBay a while back), and stuck velcro to the back so he could stick them up on this IKEA ladder we have hanging around (its for plants but we’re not unpacked yet so now its an activity card holder). I also made a name card for him because at his preschool each kid starts their day by finding their name card and putting it up on the wall.

Diego's activity ladder
Diego’s activity ladder

The cards ended up helping him (and us!) a ton. At first we put them up for him as we started a new thing. “See Diego? Its time to eat now!” I was especially relieved to see that it helped with some areas we had been having difficulties with. He suddenly started hating bathtime when everything was disrupted and we had to wash him quickly while he stood up crying. When we started using the cards, we would put up the bathtime card and say “Look, the bathtime card is up now,” and he’d walk into the bathroom. A miracle!

Diego's activities
Diego’s activities

I’m not saying this is foolproof. He still isn’t as big of a bathtime fan as he was before and often cards are protested. But I do think it gave him a sense of control over things. Its been a few weeks and now he puts the cards up himself when its time for a new activity. He especially likes the TV card.

A friend asked if I could scan these for her, and I decided to just make a new set in Procreate that would be easier to print out. And I’d like to share them with whoever might find them useful. You’ll notice they’re not labeled with words…this is to let you fill in whatever words your family uses for activities in whatever language you speak at home (we’re a spanish and english family, which is why they’re in both). Also I made one set in color and one in black and white to make printing easier and allow you to color them in yourself. There’s also blank cards because I’m sure I don’t have all the activities you might use, these are just the ones that we use.

the new cards
the new cards

Feel free to download for free or kick in a buck or two if you want. And feel free to share with whoever you want!

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