When trying to teach your toddler the parts of the body, it helps your toddler to be able to use their hands. If you've just made them a pair of hand puppets each with their own name, this will help. For example, one can be called 'head' and another 'ears'.
Teaching body parts is an excellent way for your toddler to learn how their bodies work - what different food groups are good for eating (six at least), how organs like the heart and lungs function by moving blood around the body, bones inside that give us our shape; even learning the names of other people's body parts they may see at nursery or out in public can help them get used to how different everything is not just on themselves but everyone else too!
Method#1 - Music
It is real, that music soothes the savage beast. It is also a very good way to get your toddler used to being around other people if they are particularly shy. Dance with them, sing with them, and have some books on CD of children's songs that focus on body parts out for when you're stuck in traffic or going on a long trip somewhere. If you need some examples: 'head, shoulders, knees and toes' 'eyes, and ears and mouth'
Music helps children learn too, so if your toddler is already taking music lessons of some kind, the parts of the body are an excellent first step to reading sheet music. Next time they practice, sit with them and point out each part of the body they need to play.
It is scientifically proven that music helps the brain to grow. So play some music and dance your heart out with your little one, seriously!
Method#2 - Puppets
This method is pretty simple:
- Get a hand puppet for each body part you want them to learn. If you can't find any at first, make one out of an old sock and safety pins (see attached diagram).
- Have your toddler put on their hands and experiment by moving their fingers and hands as much as they like.
- Point at different parts of the body and name it out loud as you point with your own fingers. For example, 'belly', 'legs', 'back' etc. Then ask them to move those fingers as though they worked for the body part you mentioned.
- Do this a couple of times each day, and after a few days, your toddler should have a pretty good grasp of where those parts are without having to use their hands as much.
That's it! Simple right? If you're still struggling with those stubborn little toddlers who won't sit still long enough to ever complete anything, then stop worrying because here comes another easy trick that will work like magic:
Method#3 - Videos / YouTube Videos
Maybe your child is too young for videos or YouTube videos but if they can watch TV ads on their own, then by all means Google 'children's music videos' and let them dance around. It might seem crazy at first but trust me, they'll have fun too!
If you are in a jam and can't find/afford any videos or music or simply because you want to teach your child the body parts in a more interesting way, why not try making your own? Here's how:
- Take some time to draw the head, legs, arms, etc. on paper. Make sure it is something simple enough for them to understand and has clear text describing each part. For example: 'Please show me where the eyes are'.
- Glue it onto some cardboard or foam board (for novelty), cut neatly along the edges, and there you go! Right at home teaching tool complete with your own creativity.
Method#4 - Drawing
If you have a creative child who loves to draw, this one will probably work like magic.
Draw some simple shapes for each body part you want your toddler to learn. For example, a round circle for the head, an oval for the belly, and so on. Glue it onto paper or cardboard (foam board works well too), cut neatly along the edges, and BOOM! Right at home teaching tool complete with your own creativity AND their creativity - double win!
This method is great because if they do ever get stuck with any of these parts during playtime, they can always come to ask you where something is or how to spell it by drawing it out on paper. You don't have to worry about them not being able to communicate either way with this method.
Method#5 - Flashcards / Memory games
This one couldn't be simpler. All you need is a set of flashcards with pictures that correspond to the different body parts they should learn, and then the game is to see if your child can match them up in order. For example: 'Please show me where the mouth is' (pointing to an image of teeth), 'please show me where the eyes are' (pointing to an image of eyeballs).
You can make these cards out of paper or buy pre-made flashcards (there are several websites) and there you go! Easy, educational fun for hours on end!
Also, you can try making them out of paper or foam board and gluing it to cardboard for durability.
Method#6 - Books
Of course, when it comes to teaching toddlers and young children, books are a great way to go! This is actually how I learned the body parts as well.
- Find a book with simple illustrations of all the different body parts. There are plenty on Amazon. For example: Where's My Belly Button? (Here's looking at you Jaxon!)
- Read through the story together pointing at each illustration as it goes along.
- Check out another book by the same author and enjoy another learning adventure! You can also search for other fun kids' flashcards or memory games if your child likes this method best!
Although it may seem like a lot of work just to teach your child some basic things about their bodies, keep in mind it is never too early to start educating them in a fun, interactive way. Formal education doesn't start until they are 6 years old and by then they'll already know more than half of what there is to know!
Method#7 - Make a self-portrait
It is a great idea to draw your toddler's self-portrait! Have them sit still for just a few minutes and then draw or paint their face on some large piece of paper. You can even let them paint it themselves.
How can you make it? There are several options. For example, you can draw a picture of them on paper and then cut it out to make their own little mask. Glue it onto cardboard and there you go! Right at home teaching and playing tool complete with your own creativity, theirs and fun for hours on end.
You can also draw several circles (for the head) and different sized ovals (for the arms, legs, etc.) all glued onto some large piece of paper or cardboard (foam board works best). To play they simply need to move around as they would normally do but now they can learn where each part is as well! They're learning while having fun at the same time - what could be better?
Finally, you can cut off the head from a cardboard box and draw or paint on it as well - instant cuteness overload! You can also use this for lots of other fun games like peek-a-boo.
When teaching your toddler the parts of the body, keep in mind there are several fun ways to do it! For example, you can make each part out of paper/cardboard (foam board works great), make little masks with them (or purchase pre-made ones if you're not crafty) and even use objects to help teach them what each body part is called.
Method# 8 - Use counting rhymes
The last method here is to use counting rhymes! This is a great way to learn through fun, numeric memory games. All you need are some simple rhymes like:
For example: 'Eyes and nose and toes (point to each body part), knees and ears and mouth (point again).' Then while pointing at your child's eyes, say '1 eye'. While pointing at their ears say '2 ears' etc.
Use rhymes with the different parts of their bodies so they can learn them by heart! There are plenty around for you to use so there isn't a need to make them up on your own from scratch. You can also adapt this rhyme to other things that have more than one instance such as hands or feet. Try playing fun memory games like this with your toddler and watch them learn while having endless amounts of fun!
Rhymes are also a scientifically proven method of teaching children. According to researchers at the University of Tennessee, USA, there is a direct link between rhymes and learning success. So the next time you want your child to learn something, perhaps start with a rhyme? It might just work!
When mixing rhymes and songs or rhymes and games your toddler has even more ways to learn than usual. For example, you can use the same rhyme with different body parts and teach them that way or use a song along with a game and watch how fast your toddler learns!
How long will this process take?
Teaching body parts to your toddler can be done in less than an hour or take several months, depending on what you decide to do. Of course, the best way is probably to have them learn body parts through several different methods so they don't get bored. You can also check out this article about teaching kids basic math by using objects found around the house for more ideas!
Also, if you want them to learn numbers, shapes, and colors while having fun at the same time.
What are the pediatricians` recommendations?
Keep in mind pediatricians recommend teaching your children the basics of body parts as soon as their first tooth comes in. While this is certainly not something you should stress over, you can start introducing numbers, shapes and colors even earlier by using objects found around the house or toys which are colorful and have different shapes.
This age is also a great opportunity to teach them how to identify feelings, another important skill for parents and children to have.
If your little one is still learning how to talk, this is the best time to introduce language as well! While they are learning basic words like "dog" or "cat", you can also help them learn different body parts by accompanying each word with an object which has that part. For instance, if you are teaching them the word nose, hold up a spoon and say "this is my nose".
You might want to start with showing them pictures of themselves so once they do begin talking, they get used to calling it out when needed. This will come in handy when playing individual memory games with them too!
Once you begin teaching your toddler the names of different body parts, you will most likely notice a huge difference in how they behave. Rather than grabbing at their eyes or ears, they'll understand these important body parts shouldn't be touched with dirty hands.
Of course, it is very difficult to watch them learn this on their own as toddlers tend to do it anyway - even without parents noticing! In addition, by the time they finally know what not to touch, they might have already hurt themselves a few times.
You don't need to worry though - once your little one knows what each part is called and where all of them are located, there is no way they can hurt themselves without feeling an immediate sense of pain.
There are tons of books that can be used too, depending on your child's method preference. This is why there really isn't one main way to teach toddlers the body parts - you can do it in a variety of different ways, depending on your child's interests and their preferred learning style.