When you think of games for toddlers, you need to think short and simple. A 12- to 24-month-old, or even a three-year-old, does not have a long attention span and is still intensely focused on learning new skills. Games for toddlers should be a fun way to help your little one master the tasks she or he is already intent on learning. As your toddler grows and changes from month to month, you can build on these simple games to keep up with your child’s development. Here are ten ideas for games that you can play with your toddler.
Peek-a-boo is an old, tried and true game that all toddlers love. Because your toddler is learning concepts such as object permanence, where the child comes to know that just because you cannot see something doesn’t mean it is not there, peek-a-boo is more than just fun. It is helping your child understand that you are still there even when she or he cannot fully see your face.
Hide The Ball
This game builds on the object permanence concept that peek-a-boo begins to teach. Sit with your toddler on the floor with a small ball and some nesting cubes. Hide the ball under one of the cubes and see if she or he can find the ball. Explain the game to your toddler as you play, and help your child by revealing the hidden ball occasionally. Make certain that the ball is not small enough to be a choking hazard.
Pat-A-Cake is another oldie, but it’s a goodie that helps your child develop his or her gross motor skills. While your one-year-old may not be able to clap without your help, you can assist your child by clapping his or her hands together as you repeat the rhyme. Soon your child will be clapping along without your help!
As your child learns to master walking, give the child a small, child sized chair or toy shopping cart to push in front of him or her. Fill the chair or cart with toys and pretend the child has to get them to a certain place, or ask him or her to deliver a toy to a you or another person. This game builds on walking skills, imagination and language development.
Hide and Seek
Hide and seek is a great game for older toddlers who are two or three years old, and you can play mini versions almost anywhere. If you are in the kitchen, hide behind an open cupboard door and let your toddler find you, or while in bed, hide under the covers. Let your toddler mimic you by hiding, but remember that your young child will want to be found very quickly!
The Listening Game
As your toddler grows older, take him or her outside and sit quietly. Ask your child to listen for certain sounds, like a bird or a car. Once he or she hears the sound, explain what has been heard and see if you can locate the animal or vehicle making the sound to point out to the child. This game teaches language skills and listening skills and is best played in short intervals.
Roll the Ball
Little ones love balls, and the time-honored game of rolling the ball back and forth to each other never seems to grow old. Your child is working on gross motor skills with this game, as well as following directions.
Toddlers who are well established walkers and runners love to be chased, and love to chase you, too! Squeals of joy are often heard from a toddler being chased. A gentle game of chase the toddler helps the child learn balance and gives him or her a sense of autonomy. It is also a good way to wear a toddler out if played a few hours before bedtime.
Point to the Body Part
As your toddler grows, language skills grow along, too. A simple game of “Where is your nose?” or “Point to your belly button” teaches body part names, and it also allows the child to develop a sense of self apart from you. This game is fun played in front of a mirror, too.
Toddlers love to try to imitate what grownups do, so games like pretending to cook and tea party can be played with older toddlers. If Daddy likes to fix things, get some plastic toddler tools so that your child can fix things, too. Plastic, child appropriate gardening tools, cooking toys and pretend grocery store toys are all great games to play with older toddlers to help them develop fine and gross motor skills, follow simple instructions. It also helps develop language skills and imagination.
For toddlers, play is their work, and it is serious business because so many skills and concepts are learned and mastered through play. Be imaginative, and have fun yourself as you watch your little one at the work of play.
“Games to Play With Your Toddler,” BabyCenter.com.