Although formal gifted testing rarely takes place until at least preschool or kindergarten, if you notice that your little one seems particularly advanced, it makes sense to find enriching activities. As the Davidson Institute for Talent Development explains, gifted children not only thrive on complexity, they perceive endless possibilities and solutions when playing and discovering. This doesn't mean you need to get your 2-year-old a chemistry set, but it does mean the typical press-a-button-make-a-sound activities probably won't be very challenging or interesting for your child.
Building structures and inventions have no definitive end and no prescribed path, meaning your gifted child's imagination can fuel hours of super castle creations and complex homes and bridges. Two or three dozen large cardboard blocks, small wooden shape blocks or connective units like Kinex or Duplos are just a few of the ways to keep your little one's attention rapt. When outside, let her build complex mud cities and sand castles, using pebbles and grass to accent key features, like the front door.
Gifted children are mesmerized by how things work. It's not enough that a remote control car goes at five different speeds -- he wants to know how and why. Let your younger toddler explore toys with transparent, removable shells that reveal the interior workings. For older toddlers, unplug and remove the outer casing of a simple household item, such as a disconnected land-line phone receiver or an analog clock. Keep in mind that even gifted toddlers are still mastering fine motor skills, so choose items large enough for him to actually explore and take apart. Supervise these activities at all times.
You don't need to take your gifted toddler to Versailles or the nearest impressionist exhibit, but educational outings can stimulate her imagination and encourage curiosity. The zoo and aquarium are exciting places for most kids, but gifted toddlers will especially enjoy observing the entire environment where the octopus or monkey lives, and how it behaves, eats and moves. Answer her questions and ask her questions in return. Follow up the experience at home with a detailed picture book about his favorite animal or sea life.
Not all puzzles involve dozens of cardboard pieces, although these, too, can be stimulating and challenging for gifted tots. Explore different types of puzzles, from 3D puzzles to world map puzzles made up of the individual continents or countries. If your older toddler can already read, try a word puzzle or story puzzle made up of individual letters or words. Take the time to explain the meaning behind representative puzzles, such as the globe or a new word she's never seen before.