Toddler piano means one thing.
Preschoolers, a few years older, can take more content and tasks, but your main goal with a toddler is to get them to like coming to the piano. That is enough to hope for. Any further expectations are unrealistic.
There's time enough later for curriculum and complexity.
The fact is that toddlers, one to four years old, do not have complete control over their motor skills, and have brain hemispheres that are not yet connected.
The Index Finger
They will offer you the instinctive finger, the index. Accept it. Move on and build on that if you can.
You're trying to give kids reasonable (for them) directions on how to play one key several times. Play The Game "Fours
." Play each white key four times. Accept the index finger. Your goal is continuity, not fingering.
| 1 1 1 1 | 2 2 2 2 | 3 3 3 3 | 4 4 4 4 |
| 5 5 5 5 | 6 6 6 6 | 7 7 7 7 | 8 8 8 8 |
Choose A Favorite Song
Find a song that the child knows. I suggest TWINKLE TWINKLE
since I have never met a child that doesn't know it. Once again, accept the index finger. You'll be lucky if they can remember four notes in a row, much less the proper finger to use. Don't overload them.
| 1 1 5 5 | 6 6 5 * | 4 4 3 3 | 2 2 1 * |
Break the Song Into Tiny Parts
To prevent any sense of failure, find what the child can do comfortably with the song. If that is playing " 1 1 " (one one, or one twice) then accept it and do it over and over until the child has a sense of victory. You may have to do it gently a thousand times, with many different comic approaches to engage the child. Be a clown, be a game show host, be a space invader, but deliver a delightful, educational experience.
Venture Further But Beware
You could try to add " 5 5 " (the next part of the song) but you may meet with resistance. If you meet with resistance back off immediately. Go back to "1 1 " (their previous victory.)
The Three Minute Lesson
Never confuse a toddler. Whatever you ask for, it must be as easy as pie. You may be surprised what the attention span of a three year old actually is. I've seen ten minutes, but the average is about five, or less.
The golden rule for toddlers is, "When the child says the lesson is over, (usually with their eyes,) the lesson is over."
Three year olds are very quixotic creatures and you gain more with a genial attitude than a set curriculum.