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Milestone Mastery

In the year following your child's first birthday, you'll be amazed at the physical feats he'll attempt -- and accomplish. Here, three milestones to look forward to, and activities to help your child master them, from Trish Kuffner, author of The Toddler Busy Book, and Penny Warner, author of Preschool Play and Learn Book.

Stacking Objects

Age: 13 to 21 months

What's involved: Finger agility, control of the major muscle groups in the arms, and hand-eye coordination

Fun and games:

  • Set three or more plastic bowls of various sizes on the floor. Show your child how to stack them, biggest to smallest. When he can do this on his own, add a square pan to the mix and see what he does with it.
  • Offer him big, soft items -- such as individually wrapped toilet paper rolls and large sponges -- to stack."

Climbing Stairs

Age: 14 to 22 months

What's involved: Action similar to walking but with an added dimension, vertical, which requires more strength

Fun and games:

  • Stack the couch cushions like stairs against the sofa and spot your child as he practices marching up and down. (Place extra pillows underneath for support.)
  • Let him climb up on you as you're lying on the floor, then as you're up on your hands and knees, and finally as you're sitting in a chair. He'll get a good workout, and you'll always be there to catch him if he loses his balance.

Throwing a Small Ball Overhand

Age: 17 to 36 months

What's involved: Control of complex muscle movements in the hands and arms, plus hand-eye coordination

Fun and games:

  • Give rolled-up sock balls to throw into a laundry basket. Make it more challenging by putting the basket on a chair or moving it around the room.
  • Hold a hula hoop a few feet away and have him try to toss bean bags, small stuffed animals, or a small ball through the center.
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