We usually play according to functionality (books for reading, stuffed toys for feeling/pretending, shapes for stacking/building, stickers for sticking, etc).  Of course, there are recurring themes but in a different format. One day while reading an ocean book, I remembered to bring out her ocean stuffed toys so the octopus was 3D and flat. When she saw this, it was like introducing my sisters to my friends at a party for the first time. ” I knew it! You guys are the same!”

Here’s the running list of results since we started relating things 2 weeks ago:

  1. The names of the ocean animals stick: octopus, crab, fish, star fish, sea horse, shark (not just a fish anymore), and fish
  2. She recognizes the ocean animals outside the house.  Just as she was about to throw a fit in the restaurant the other day, she spotted the fish in the tank and the tsunami miraculously quelled.
  3. She wakes up one morning and digs up the tambourine decorated with ocean animals then sticks it to  her ocean book and proclaims “The same!” It’s like it came to her in a dream.

Here are some ways to get started with relating:

  1. Pick a theme. For instance, ocean animals
  2. Encourage your child to gather all her toys that have to do with the ocean like stuffed toys, magnets, stickers, books, pictures of aquariums you’ve visited.
  3. With all the ocean toys/experiences in one place, ask/show her which ones are the same. Invent a story, make a funny sound or recount your adventure to the aquarium. She can use the narrative help her make the connection. (My daughter loves it when I start with “Remember when…” I can see her trying to access the memory in her hard drive.)
  4. Mix up the toys and ask her to connect the toys again. Use your stories as clues.
  5. Have fun! She will impress you beyond words.


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