I like hearing you describe what I’m looking at and playing with. It helps me put words to actions and objects.
When I do something you’ve asked me to do and you mihi to me, it makes me feel really good. ‘He tino pai tō mahi pēpi.’
When I hear music, sometimes I just can’t stop myself from boogying. Look at me, I can do the moonwalk!
I like pulling my socks and my pōtae off because I can. I’m big now. I can’t quite put them back on again yet though, mā te wā.
I think I’m pretty clever but I don’t know a lot about safety. So I still need pakeke to keep a close eye on me.
I’m like Kupe, the great navigator, always looking for new things to discover. But I still need lots of hugs and kisses, especially if I’m tired or upset.
Did you know that my taringa, ihu and korokoro are all connected? When I learn to blow my ihu it helps keep them all clean and clear.
It can be scary letting them try things out on their own, but we know they learn best by ‘doing’, so we let them go for it but stay close by, just in case.
Pēpi is a real copy cat, so we’re careful about what we say and do in front of them.
We don’t give them lots of alternatives if they refuse to eat. We give them small amounts of the same kai we’re having. If they push it away or start playing with it, we stay calm and put it in the fridge. We might offer it again later.
We help them to know their whakapapa and where they’re from by making books for them with photos. We talk about people in the whānau, our maunga, our awa, and our marae as often as we can.
We make sure we have their ears checked regularly because hearing well is so important for language development. Sometimes we play listening games just to make sure their brain is getting all the messages from their taringa.
Tuakana and teina are Māori terms describing relationships between siblings and cousins. The tuakana being the elder siblings and the teina the younger. Tuakana can have a powerful impact as role models and there’s an expectation that they look out for their teina. Traditional roles on the marae, such as whaikōrero and karanga, are tuakana responsibilities, however, this is determined by the whānau.
This concept could also be seen where more experienced parents may act as tuakana to help support other new parents.
Fill an old handbag with a variety of small toys and safe household items for pēpi to investigate. Lids to turn, bits that move or can be taken apart and joined back together. Velcro fasteners and zips will all be of major interest to the little explorer.
Pēpi will enjoy pretend play and it’s an easy way to have fun together while teaching and learning about whānau values and routines. You can tunu kai, have picnics, bath and settle dolls down for a moe.
Whakapapa at a simple level starts with pēpi and the people he sees regularly. Photos help to reinforce their names and their relationship to pēpi.
Use kupu like tuakana, teina, tungāne, tuahine, koro, kuia, whaea,and introduce terms such as mātamua and pōtiki. Talk to pēpi about his maunga, awa and marae. Repeatedly hearing whakapapa names not only helps his memory but strengthens his sense of belonging and identity.
This can be an activity for you and the whole whānau to do.
Check out this cool reo animation created by Te Kete Ipurangi introducing family members – grandparents, parents and siblings, using photos on the wall.
Here’s a fun song to get the whole whānau up and active with some big actions for pēpi to copy.
Tohorā tino mōmona
Whiore piupiu e
Tohorā kau ana te moana e.
Notice what pēpi is interested in so you can use the words that go with it. Describe out loud what they’re doing, almost as if you’re talking to someone else and sharing in detail what pēpi is doing.
There once lived a rangatira named Rata who decided one day to build a waka to help his people sail across the seas. They had become hōhā with their village being constantly battered by storms. Rata went into the ngahere and looked for a suitable tree to build his waka. He searched high and low until he finally found his rākau. He quickly began to chop the tree, forgetting first to karakia to Tanemāhuta to ask for his blessing and approval to cut the tree down.
Rata returned to his village that night, proud of all the work he’d done. But the patupaiarehe, the insects and birds were not happy with Rata and decided to teach him a lesson.
When Rata returned for the tree the next day, he was surprised to find it standing upright! He was puzzled at how this could happen. So, once again, he chopped down the tree – only to be shocked once more when he returned the next day to find his tree upright again!
Rata cut the tree down for a third time and this time hid in the grass until nightfall to see what could be happening. It wasn’t long before the patupaiarehe, the insects and birds arrived and set about putting the tree back together. Rata shouted at them, ‘Kei te aha koutou? What are you doing?’ They explained to him that he had not asked Tānemahuta for his approval before cutting the tree down.
Rata felt extremely whakamā by his hasty actions and asked for forgiveness. Tānemahuta accepted his apology and gave his approval, so the others agreed not to punish Rata any longer. When Rata woke up the next day, there on the marae stood a newly hollowed-out waka for Rata and his people.
Messages from this legend
With every new experience, new connections in the brain are made. They are then strengthened through repetition until they eventually become ‘hardwired’ permanent connections.
When pēpi hears names repeated again and again connections in the language centres of the brain are strengthened. Pēpi then learns which names go with which people and places, especially those they see or visit often.
It's a great time for language development - pēpi can learn more easily when they hear new words repeated again and again.
Don't forget their young developing brain needs quiet time too to rest and organise information it’s received. That’s why some quiet activities for pēpi and a restful sleep are so important. And pēpi will cope with stress much better when they feel safe and secure in your love.
Here’s a fun, repetitive song to enjoy singing with pēpi while helping to learn names of body parts too.
ūpoko, pokohiwi, turi, waewae
Ūpoko, pokohiwi, turi waewae
Ūpoko, pokohiwi, turi waewae
Taringa, karu, ihu, waha e.
Mā te tuakana ka tōtika te teina, mä te teina ka totika te tuakana.
From the older sibling the younger one learns the right way to do things and from the younger siblings the older one learns to be tolerant.
He kākano au i ruia mai i Rangiātea.
I am a seed sown back to Rangiātea.
Playdough is a great activity for pēpi to develop their fine motor skills. They can use their hands and fingers to poke, pound, roll and squash or use some plastic cutlery to cut and shape.
Here’s a simple no-cook playdough recipe:
1 cup of flour
½ cup salt
½ cup water
A few drops of food colouring
Add the food colouring to the water then mix together with the salt and flour. Mix and knead into a ball. Add more salt and flour if it’s too sticky.
Six tohu whānau known to promote the best relationships between parents, whānau and their tamariki
Tell me more
Love & Warmth aroha, mahana
Talking & listening kōrero, whakarongo
Guidance & understanding ārahi, māramatanga
Limits & boundaries te tika, te hē
Consistency & consequences ngā hua, ngā hapa
A structured & secure world he ao haumaru