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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 4, Lesson 5

Activity #4
Using floor-time

family playing with petsSome children, while they have the potential capacity for intellectual development, will not be able to make intellectual progress because their behavior won't let them. You will read about Jacob and his life. Two terms are used for therapies for Jacob - Making circles and Floor time. Making Circles (Greenspan & Benderly, 1998) refers to fundamental building blocks of communication that must be reached between children and their world. To make circles, caregivers and parents are instructed in ways to follow a child's initiative and to establish and build those interactive linkages. Floor time is the child-led play that is used to make circles. Children are engaged by a parent/caregiver in a personally (to the child) relevant activity in a secure environment. This time demonstrates caring, acceptance, and respect and allows the parent to get in-tune with the child's unique thinking processes. The play may be slow-paced or repetitive and boring to the adult, yet satisfying to the child.

Read Jacobs Story: A Miracle of the Heart.

Reflect on the following tips for Floor time:

  • Small cozy play area or even separate room
  • Consistent to each meeting - carefully-chosen play items
  • Follow the child's lead - Avoid quizzing, teaching, and showing-how
  • Describe the child's actions and behaviors, including body-language out loud for him/her to internalize (not evaluating)
  • Paraphrase the child's vocalizations
  • Observe and keep records of the ways the child plays out ideas to use in planning the next floor time

After reading about Jacob, consider where they might play? What materials they might put into the play-space? What do you think Jacob might like to play? What might be some good ways to keep records of these floor times since you will only be able to record after the play time is over?

Activity #5
Transition from a Home Setting to an Inclusive Preschool

Bill's Case Study
(Note: Repeated here as provided earlier)

Bill is a 34 month old toddler with Down syndrome. He lives with his mother and father and older brothers - Greg, 10 years, and Roy 8 years. He was also born with a heart anomaly, but at 18 months had heart surgery. He continues to have concerns related to his heart, vision, and hearing. He also has frequent upper respiratory infections. Bill wears glasses but has trouble keeping these on as he is very active. His hearing loss limits him from hearing friends.

Bill's parents have considered using sign language, but are not sure this is right for him. Because both parents work, Bill spends 7 hours a day in an inclusive child care setting and he loves his friends at school. His parents hope he can continue at the center until he is ready for elementary school and hope he can go to school with his typically developing peers.

Other information:

  1. He likes to paint
  2. He loves any outdoor play
  3. He has trouble with transitions from activity to activity
  4. He often points to things he wants rather than verbalizing even if can utter the words
  5. He often gets frustrated with small blocks or peg boards and scatters these.

Scores from Assessment

Behavior Month's Score
Expressive language 24
Fine motor 27
Self-care 23
Receptive language 22
Social 20
Gross motor 26

Consider Bill's case study which you read earlier in this lesson.

Read Early Transitions for Children and Families: Transitions from Infant/Toddler Services to Preschool Education

When the author talks about "essential elements for success", she does so in very global terms. Consider how this compares with Early Steps policy. What other information will you need to provide successful transitions? See Florida's Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP) and think about how transition information is included.

Use The Early Steps Service Delivery Policy and Guidance: Delivering Services in the Routines and Daily Activities of Children with Disabilities and their Families and this article to help you with some initial transition planning for Bill.

  • How would you work with the team to develop outcomes and work with Bill's family to identify community supports that will enhance the day-to-day life of Bill and his family at home?
  • How could you include the needs of Bill within the context of his family and the larger community when planning for Bill's transition?
  • How would you work with the team to develop outcomes for Bill and/or his family related to concerns about preparing Bill and family to move from Early Steps, at age three, to the most appropriate early care and education setting (e.g., Head Start, Part B, preschool, or childcare)?

Note: Bill is already in out-of-home care all day. Consider the desires of the family for future placement.

Lesson 5 Highlights

  • There are three basic processes related to infant/ toddler information processing:
    1. Attention (focusing of perceptual processes on something in the environment),
    2. Perception (ability to take in, discriminate, interpret, and organize sensory experiences - taste, touch, smell, vision, hearing), and
    3. Memory (stored information taken through attention and perception
  • little boy playing inside boxCritical cognitive skills that infants/toddlers must master include: Intentionality, means-end behavior, trial-and-error exploration, object permanence, deferred imitation
  • When planning a cognitive task or game, consider doing the following:
    • Decide on the expected behaviors you are teaching
    • Consider using a verbal, visual, and/or touch cue to prompt the child
    • Analyze the steps in the procedure and order these (task analysis)
  • Block play supports development in these ways: Socially, Physically, Intellectually and Creatively.
  • Reinforcements - Activities or actions paired with a pleasant activity, action, object, food or other reward is likely to be reinforced, learned, and repeated by an infant toddler. If an external reinforcement is needed to stimulate learning, the ultimate goal is for the external reinforcer to be phased out and for the infant toddler to self-reinforce or no longer need an external reinforcement.
  • During each phase of the transition, the service provider should keep in mind these 5 factors: 1) community context, 2) team disbanding, 3) communication, 4) family concerns, 5) continuity to move smoothly on to the next phase
  • Floor time is the child-led play that is used to make circles. Children are engaged by a parent/caregiver in a personally (to the child) relevant activity in a secure environment.


Florida Department of Health (2004). Service delivery policy and guidance: Delivering services in the routines and daily activities of young children and their families. Tallahassee, Florida: Author


  • Early Transitions for Children and Families: Transitions from Infant/Toddler Services to Preschool Education
  • Autism Teaching Tools: Block Play
  • Early Years are Learning Years - site includes a good article on block play
  • Block Play for All Children
  • Transition is More than a Change in Services: The Need for a Multicultural Perspective


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