Kids ranging from 12 months to 24 months, or "waddlers", are at the stage where exploration and becoming familiar with their environment is critical. Activities such as independent play, sensory activities, and making choices are encouraged. Individualized academic activities and group play are introduced.
- A soothing environment. Waddlers can get overwhelmed easily, so caregivers make sure the lights aren't too bright, the room isn't too cluttered, and recoreded music is played only once in a while.
- Defined areas. The room is divided into separate areas for sleeping, playing, eating, and changing diapers. That way, everything and everyone stays clean and safe, and playing waddlers don't bother sleeping ones.
- Secure open spaces (both indoors and outdoors). Waddlers need to move on firm surfaces without being in a device or carrier--that's how they strengthen their muscles. Plus, they can explore the toys and objects that interst them.
- Personal touches. The room contains objects that are familiar to each child, like family photographs.
- Simple, interesting materials. The toys and objects can be used in a variety of ways, like baskets and pails that babies use to dump and fill. There are different types of the same toy, like blocks or balls, in various sizes and made out of different materials. When they're a little older, babies compare objects and learn to understand words like big, soft, smooth, and shiny.
- Child-size furniture. Chairs, tables, and shelves are sturdy, safe, and the right size for babies so they can be more independent as they start crawling or walking.