Toddler Playtime Ideas and Games
Play, fun, and learning are all the same thing to your toddler. She loves learning new skills (like taking turns!) and making new discoveries. Learn what's in store in this excerpt from Your Toddler Month by Month by Dr. Tanya Byron.
Most childhood games, involving walking, running, jumping, and climbing, are useful for the development of the large movements of the body. All your toddler needs is a safe place to play and explore without too much restricted movement, and the knowledge that her carer is not too far away. Children are “all-weather” creatures and will really benefit from fresh air and a change of scene. Different textures and challenges are intriguing at this age:
- Walking on grass or sand, jumping on and off a step, walking, running (and later rolling) up and down hills, and crawling through tunnels, help children to strengthen their muscles and their reflexes.
- Swings, slides, and balancing are all fantastic for encouraging brain development. Your toddler may be ready to try some climbing, too. Make sure you balance your anxieties about your toddler’s safety against a need for her to explore and learn from her environment.
The smaller and more controlled movements continue to improve as your toddler gradually learns to grip things and to control small-scale movement. Her drawing skills will begin now (although she has a very immature pencil grip), she will try to fit shapes together, and can hold a spoon and fork.
- Toys to encourage holding, scooping, squeezing, and pouring.
- Games and activities that encourage repetition of movement.
- Sand and water play, finger paints, jigsaws, and wooden blocks.
- Running, jumping, and climbing.
- Kicking and throwing a ball.
- Blowing bubbles.
- Chasing and tickling games.
- Dancing to encourage a sense of rhythm and co-ordination.
Language and Senses
- Things to read and look at: board books with large pictures and pages, illustrated food packages, and glossy magazines that include pictures of babies and toddlers will all appeal.
- Things to write with: fat crayons and pencils, and plenty of paper (if you don’t want scribble on the walls).
- Things that make noise: beans in sealed containers, wooden spoons, saucepans, flower pots, bells—the list is endless. Also, try making noises in unusual ways – for example, by shouting into a tube to create an echo. Make animal noises that your child can copy.
- Toys that are bright colors and made of contrasting textures.
- Nursery rhymes and action songs help develop language.
Make-Believe and Comfort
- Toys to cuddle: so many to choose from, but there is often a favorite.
- Make-believe toys: puppets and action rhymes, or funny, made-up rhymes and stories.
- Toys that imitate you and your actions, such as sweepers, tools, and telephones.
Cause and Effect Toys
- Toys that light up or make a noise, for example, when a button is pushed—these help your toddler understand how her actions impact on things.
- Hiding an object under a cup and finding it together.
- Copying your actions and exaggerated facial expressions.
Excerpted from Your Toddler Month by Month by Dr. Tanya Byron, reprinted with permission from DK Publishing.
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