Encouraging Young Toddlers To Copy And Repeat {Copying Activities}

At almost 16 months old, I have noticed that my little girl is starting to try to copy and repeat lots of things that I do such as movements, actions, mannerisms and words.

At this age they are human sponges and every single day they are learning and taking in something new to process.

They will surprise you with something new they have learnt when you are least expecting it. 

It is the perfect opportunity for us as parents to encourage our little ones to continue this big development step and see them thriving right before our eyes.

What might seem like the most mundane things to us can really help our sons and daughters to develop and will also give them (and us) great pleasure in doing so.

The key word during these copying activities is REPEAT!!

It is very important to repeat these actions often in order for your little munchkins to take in everything they are seeing.

Practise makes perfect!

Copy And Repeat Movements/ Actions

  • Clapping/ ‘Give me five’ for good behaviour
copy & repeat 'give me five'

Our little ones should always be praised for good behaviour which will then encourage them to continue this.

Of course for young toddlers the concept of being good and ‘naughty,’ they haven’t quite grasped and they are still unable to fully understand these behaviours.

From around 1 years old ( I say that roughly as every child is different and has their own times to do things) our young toddlers are starting to communicate with us better.

However, they are still unable to always tell us exactly what they want with words which can sometimes cause frustration.

When your son/ daughter finishes their dinner or completes a game give them a round of applause or we love doing ‘give me five.’

‘Give me five’ or ‘high five’ as you may know it.

My daughter LOVES doing this and insists that she goes round to everyone who’s currently in that room to do a ‘high five.’ 

  • Waving hello and goodbye
copy & repeat dialling numbers on phone

How many times a day do we all say “hello” or “goodbye” to people?! Lots!!

Whether we are going out of the house or going into a shop or on the phone, without realising we say these two words frequently.

Try to stop and pause for a moment and wave to the person who you are saying it to so that our little ones can understand the meaning of this word and the correct moment to do this.

It is also common that either “hello/hi/hiya” or “goodbye/bye/bye bye” are one of the first words that our toddlers will say.

The overly enthusiastic wave from them never gets old and always brings a big smile to everyone’s face.

My daughter very often picks up the house phone, presses the numbers as if she is dialling a phone number then puts it to her ear and says her version of “hello.”

  • Blowing/ Giving kisses to our loved ones (and the teddy bears)
copy & repeat kissing teddy

Such a cute way of saying hello or goodbye to family members and friends.

Add the extra sounds effects when our little one’s hand moves away from their face as their kiss is blown and it is sure to melt your heart.

I’m pretty sure once they start doing this, they will be blowing kisses to everyone as you are out for a walk.

Don’t worry though mummy, the best kisses are always saved for you!

The lucky teddy bears at home are showered with kisses numerous times a day once learnt.

  • Smell the flowers/herbs
copy & repeat smelling the flowers

There is nothing better than exploring the great outdoors and inhaling all of that great fresh air.

Go in the search of pretty flowers and herbs.

Get down low with your little one to their level and lean in to smell the colourful flowers and herbs.

Slightly exaggerate your sniffing with your nose to show exactly what they need to do and watch their funny faces as they try and copy.

They will become little snuffling piglets everytime they see some flowers when out.

My little one has learnt to go up to our feet too, smell them and make a funny face- I promise they don’t smell badly!!

Cleaning up a spill on the floor- Give them a tissue too

copy & repeat cleaning high chair

This actually started without (much) encouragement.

I have somehow ended up with an ever so small cleaning assistant but what a great help she is!

As previously said, REPEAT is the key word for these actions and this action has without a doubt been repeated an unimaginable amount of times.

Us mummy’s are forever cleaning up some kind of mess and spillage on the floor especially after meal times.

Explain to your toddlers that mess needs to be tidied up.

Give them a wipe/ tissue and encourage them to copy you as you clean the floor or their high chair.

It is always good to instill these kinds of habits for when they are bigger too.

Yes the novelty will definitely wear off when they are older but for the moment it is a great game copying mummy.

  • Helping to put things in the recycling/bin
copy & repeat put things in the bin

Of course our little ones aren’t ready just yet to put all the dirty plates away and the leftover food in the bin after dinner time.

There would be more mess after ‘tidying up’ than before if we tried that right now.

It is always good to show our little helpers where the different rubbish goes: the plastic, paper, glass/metal and regular waste.

This will show them the different materials that we have within the house and also how to separate them.

My almost 16 month old really enjoys helping mummy put the rubbish in the correct bin ready for recycling.

Even a simple “Let’s throw this in the bin” gets her enthusiastically on her feet ready to go and put the waste in its place.

  • Eating/ Drinking like a grown-up
copy & repeat 'cheers' with mummy and daddy

Even when you think your little ones are not watching and learning, you’d be surprised how their curious eyes pick up on most things.

Whilst at the table during meal time Miss 15 months wants to do exactly as us grown-ups do too;

  • Use a grown-up fork and spoon rather than the plastic kiddy ones (Mummy’s spoon is way better than hers)
  • Feed herself
  • Drink from a regular glass (Yes you guessed it, Mummy’s water/ juice tastes so much better than hers)
  • Clean face with napkin after dinner is finished
  • ”Cheers” with our drinks
copy & repeat drinking out of an adult glass

Other great things to do together with you son/ daughter can be found on our Things To Teach A 1-Year-Old article. 

Copy And Repeat Words

  • Read books daily 
copy & repeat pointing out things on page

Reading books from when our son’s/ daughter’s are babies is such an important part of the daily routine.

Whether that be just before bed in the evening or if you have time during the day to sit down and have a few minutes of quiet time as you read a story.

Books are a huge, huge part of a toddler’s language development and will only have benefits for us all.

The more often you read the same books, our toddlers will eventually point parts of the book out and say words for the images they see on the pages.

Our current favourite book is Night Time Bunny and we even have two favourite pages.

The first is a page full of different animals by a pond in the woods which my little girl wants me to name all the animals, she points and I say.

The second page is an image of two rabbits in bed sleeping which she now strokes and says “night night.”

copy and repeat saying night night to rabbits

This can easily be learnt by playing with the animal teddies in the house and laying them down to sleep by sssh’ing and stroking and finally saying “night night.”

  • When they are eating, explain what you have made and what ingredients are inside. 

This may seem like an activity which is pretty pointless but it will allow our little ones to improve their language.

They will become familiar with many different:

  • Adjectives to describe the food (delicious, tasty, yummy…)
  • Verbs to describe how the foods have been made (mashed, cut, boiled, peeled…)
  • Nouns whilst introducing a wide variety of new foods to taste.

It is also a good idea to talk about the foods and describe each one so that they become easy going in trying new foods.

We all know it can be a daily struggle to get most toddlers eating a balanced diet. 

  • When out in the pram point out things that are around and noises that you hear.

Talking to our babies in the pram when we are out for a walk is often something you read about in the many mummy books that have been purchased.

It really is a great thing to continue to do even with your toddlers so they can become familiar with certain objects/ places and sounds which you regularly pass close to home.

Take time on your walks to stop and look at everything around and let your little ones take in the big wide world. 

When they become a little more advanced with their speaking they will probably point at the objects they recognise.

They will probably see or hear them before you- They really are super intelligent!

copy & repeat Out Walking With the pram

Please/ Thank You

We are all brought up to have good manners and say our please and thank you’s.

It seems like a given and a simple thing that we need to teach our little munchkins to copy and say at the right times but it really is important.

When you are handing over items, always say “thank you” and emphasise how appreciative you are.

During conversation try asking your little ones to give you something and finish your sentence with “please.”

Once they have gotten the grasp and understanding of please and thank you, they may see it as a little game and pretend to give you something then take it away at the last second or even have you running across the room to catch them.

They adore joking around with us!

Have your toddlers started copying anything that you do? Maybe even something that would be best not copied?

We’d love to hear about your little monkeys too!

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