Police officers can be fascinating characters for toddlers, with their noisy, flashing cars, shiny badges, smart uniforms and police hats. You can capitalize on this interest with some police activities that will teach your toddler about the role of this important member of his neighborhood.
Help your toddler make her own police car using a cardboard box -- ideally one big enough for her to sit in. Paint the box black and white to resemble a patrol car and write POLICE on the side. This is an ideal outdoor activity if the weather allows. Stick paper plates on for the wheels and plastic or cardboard cups on top for the flashing lights. You can also take the bottom out of your box and add shoulder straps by tying the ends of two pieces of string to the corners so she can "wear" the car. Never leave a toddler unattended with string, as it can present a choking hazard.
Talk to your toddler about fingerprints and how police officers use them. Explain how the pattern is different on everyone's fingers and test this out. Spread paint onto a sponge and have him press his finger into it and then onto some paper. You might need a few attempts to get a clear pattern as it can be hard to get just the right amount of paint on tiny fingers. Take your fingerprint to compare, as well as other family members. Another option? Rub a pencil many times on a piece of paper, rubbing your child's finger into it and then pressing onto plain paper, making sure he doesn't put his finger into his mouth until you have cleaned it.
As your toddler becomes more aware of people around her, you can introduce her to the appearance of a police officer. Show her pictures of officers and their vehicles in magazines, books or printed from the Internet, and talk about what they wear and the color of their uniforms. Cut some pictures out and chop them up into pieces (arms, legs, head, hat) and challenge her to put them back together in the right order. For an added challenge, add arms and legs of other people and see if she can still create a police officer from the pieces. Print some police officer coloring pages and help your toddler choose the right colors to fill in the uniform.
Imaginative play is a valuable learning tool for your toddler, so help him become a police officer in his own home: he is sure to relish being in charge for a change. You can buy a police costume or make him a badge and police hat using online templates or your own creative skills. Take on the role of a child that is lost and ask your little officer for help. Pretend you have parked your ride-on vehicle in the wrong place or that you have been driving too fast and must be issued a ticket. Steal something from a Teddy or a doll and let your toddler take you to his police station.
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