(Goblin is 22 months)
Recently Goblin hasn't shown much interest in the educational activities on his shelf. He just wants to play with his vehicles. So I thought I'd tailor some activities to match his interests. Last month I made this vehicle matching card using my bargain basement laminator from Tesco. [http://direct.tesco.com/q/R.202-6578.aspx] The Goblin was really excited and matched the vehicles correctly first time out. I have stuck an envelope on the back of the A4 laminated sheet and popped the 4 laminated cards into it to keep all the bits together. It lives in an A4 holder on his desk along with some colour matching cards. He often fetches this one and brings it to me so we can do matching.
When I first introduced it I needed to hand the cards to him one at a time or he would get confused. But now I can give him all 4 and he'll sort them himself.
Lots of blogs on toddler development/activities/education for this age group (18 - 24 months) show sorting activities: sorting felt balls by colour; sea shells by shape; coloured beads by shape or colour. Its a good way of developing an understanding of what makes some things the same and others different (as well as fine motor skills, picking the objects up and putting them in different groups). I have tried getting Goblin to do sorting activities but he has shown absolutely no interest what so ever. That is until now.
I used the same card I use for the matching game, but I printed lots of little copies of the pictures on the matching card and laminated all of them (otherwise Goblin would eat the paper). I popped them down in a pile and asked him to find me a helicopter and pop it on the helicopter. I didn't even need to tell him the rest, he just went ahead and sorted them all onto the right pictures. Then he wanted to do it again. Finally a sorting game he likes.
After that we used the A4 card to sort his toys. He found me a helicopter, two fire engines and an ambulance but I had to help him hunt around for the other fire engines, police cars and helicopters because he'd been playing with them earlier and they were scattered around the room. I used this as an opportunity to tell him about big and small. I showed him that he had one small fire engine and one big fire engine.
That reminded him how much he loved watching fire engines. So he started shouting for fire engines. That means he wants to watch clips of fire engines with their sirens going. I searched the internet and have made a playlist that loops. It keeps him happy for quite a while. I've added one clip here just to give you an idea - If your toddler is also obsessed there are plenty more on youtube.