Toddler Mind Maps!

Cakie has been interested in drawing for a long time. She did her first little painting when she was about 6 months old and has been at it ever since, tasting and experimenting with a wide range of media!

                                               (Cakie at 6 months old….awwwwwww!)
Recently she has been asking us to draw things for her on paper and her magna-doodle (a very popular gift from Aunty Myfanwy!) Daddy is very good at drawing and has made some wonderful sketches of her favourite characters and foods (food features high up the list of requests!)

As we have been drawing with her, the same requests have been repeated over and over again until we have realised that these things are SO important to her. I thought it would be fun to make a little “toddler mind map” or “thinking doodle” to record what is going on in her little brain. It makes for quite a funny picture!

She often asks for family member to be drawn, including herself. She always laughs as I draw her curly hair and names each body part as I draw it. Some of the requests come with a song, such as the cake. This is always “draw cake?” “and as I draw there is a little voice accompanying my doodle in the background. “Appy burfday to yoo, appy burfday to yooo, appy burfday Asshie!” followed by “two candles” and lots of blowing out. She likes to sing Twinkle Twinkle too, and requests various parts of the song on paper. The hair-dryer is interesting because she is terrified of it. So I’m thinking maybe I should start a book of scary noisy things (that aren’t really all that scary) and also include the DREADED Dyson and the blender!

I might do one of these with her every month and then look back at how her little thoughts have developed over time. Maybe in a few months “oh no! pig eating strawberries!” won’t be the most terrible thing that can happen anymore (although wouldn’t life be great if it was?!)


  1. says

    It would br really interesting to start it now at 18 months and see the progression in his interests and thoughts!
    C asked me to do it again today and she already wanted new things (and the hoover appeared all by itself!)

  2. says

    Oh! I love the picture of her painting! So cool! And great idea to have a doodle book! You are a lady of my own heart!!

    Thank you for linking up to Kids Get Crafty! Much appreciated!!


  3. says

    This post reminds me of when my Little Miss would notice all kinds of sounds and look to me for reassurance, like dogs barking outside, the washing machine on spin and fire engines passing. I wonder if some young children have a natural instinct to shy away from loud noises, but I never noticed it with B. But then he was always making the loud noises.

  4. says

    I love your mind-map idea. Working as a childminder you need to record what you observe of a child’s development. This is a great way to get a snapshot of their thoughts and language. Thanks for sharing your idea with the Play Academy – I’m going to post a link to this on the NurtureStore Facebook page too.

  5. says

    Cathy- I am assuming you are having to do the FS profile with your kids? If so then this would be definitely be a really good way to take a snapshot of their conceptual development.

    We used to do this with our Reception children based around a newly introduced theme eg freezing and melting. We would ask them all to share their knowledge on the topic and write their ideas onto speech bubbles and display them.

    At the end of the unit (a week/ month/ half term) we asked them the same questions and recorded the changes in their responses. By dating both answers, it usually showed great progress in their understanding and thinking skills. Then we just stuck it right into the profile folder in the appropriate section.

    Easy !

  6. says

    Anna – childminders aren’t usually doing the FS profile but we do have to do ongoing observations and assessments. I agree – this method works really well when introducing a new theme, and is so easy to stick in a Learning Journey record. I love it!

  7. says

    Lovely idea for recording their thoughts and interests. I would love to do this with my 20 month old – and perhaps also include his ‘words’ for things as a way of remembering this early ways of communicating. Eg ‘ting’ for bike, ‘ming’ for mushroom, ‘dee’ for daddy, ‘bee’ for baby, ‘foof’ for dog, etc. They’re so precious and fleeting!

    My girl, who’s now 4, has always been scared of loud mechanical noises – hairdryers, lawn mowers, blenders, motorcycles. The vacuum cleaner was absolutely the worst – it was like a monster to her, even when it was idle!

  8. says

    What a lovely way of capturing your daughters ‘thoughts,’ interests and fascinations for this moment in time. It is like journalling or scrapbooking – what a lovely record to revisit over time.

  9. says

    Wow, your toddler mind map is a great idea. It would be fun to watch it evolve over time.

    I recently read a book about children’s art processes that strongly recommended not making realistic drawings for your child because it can make them feel they can’t draw by comparison, and it focuses too much on the product instead of the process. I’m wondering your thoughts about this. I can see from your blog that Cakie is not at all inhibited in her artistic endeavors. Do you think this concern is simply unfounded? I appreciate your insights!

  10. says

    Hi Jessie!
    I haven’t read any research on the topic but I would say exactly the same based on my experience if teaching 4-5 year olds. THose who had been drawn for, corrected, watched and over-instructed were VERY reluctant to have a go at things by themselves and often had very poor self-confidence about their own abilities as artists (and writers.)
    So it is something I’m keen to avoid with my own children for sure! But these thinking maps were started when C was very little (under 2) with absolutely no interest or ability in drawing herself yet. It was a great way to get her talking and describing objects.
    About a month ago we started another one to record everything she is currently interested in and she drew alongside me, eventually pushing my pencil away and saying “MY do it Mummy!” So that’s the end of that now :-)
    Thanks so much for your insightful comment!

  11. says

    When my oldest was a toddler, he went around saying “Draw Mimmie” in this strange monotone voice. He was telling us to draw Mickey Mouse. And we would. But that was the only thing he wanted us to draw!

    This is a very cute idea for a few months from now… I’m storing it in my mind. Right now that only thought I’d be able to put on a page for Baby Drayken would be “Dog” or “Ninny” (nursing) :)

  12. says

    I did this a few months ago with my 2 year old and she still LOVES her mind map. I wan’t sure how to get her started so we just talked about her favourite things. “what’s your favourite thing at the playground?” etc. She helped me do one for her little sister (6 months) too. So much fun watching her talk about what her baby sister likes and doesn’t like! Must be time to do another I think…