Young children learn best when they’re playing. And games played with young toddlers can truly increase bonding, encourage cognitive skills, and boost physical and emotional development.
The trick is, to make the games easy to follow, fun to play and not too long. Check out a few games that will keep your toddler entertained and learning new things.
You can play Simon Says one-on-one or with the whole family. The rules are simple enough for a toddler to follow along: The adult plays Simon, and what Simon says, goes! Say something like, “Simon says touch your nose,” and have your child follow the direction. Occasionally throw in a “touch your knee” without the Simon Says preface. If your child follows your direction even if you didn’t say “Simon Says” first, they are eliminated from the game. It’s a great way to get kids listening, focusing on what is said, following directions and even educating them on body parts, animals sounds or physical exercise (jumping jacks, jump like a frog, etc.)
Hide and Seek
We all know this one! One person hides and the other person finds them. It doesn’t always have to be a person hiding, though. What if you hid a specific object? Either way, the game teaches problem-solving skills. Disney’s Where’s Olaf game is a great variation of this classic. Hide a small, stuffed Olaf somewhere in the house, and with a combination of twenty questions and hide and seek, the kids can find Olaf through process of elimination.
Gather a tub of old clothes, shoes and hats. After Halloween, snag some costumes from the clearance aisle and let the kids go to town. Dress-up allows kids to express themselves and use their imaginations. It’s the beginning of young children dreaming of becoming a firefighter, doctor or teacher, and the fun of performing as a princess, a clown or a pirate.
This can be set up either indoors or outdoors. Place small objects around the space, and make your toddler run, jump, balance and wiggle around them. Having to maneuver around, over and under an obstacle course helps with developing gross motor skills, balance and coordination.
Hide some toys in a sand box and have your child dig to find them. Don’t want to deal with sand? Hide an object around the house and have your child try to find it. You can also give clues, or tell them whether they’re near the object (“You’re getting hotter!”) or going farther away from it (“You’re getting colder!”).
There are two tricks to finding an appropriate board game for a toddler:
- It should be quick enough to complete before their attention span wavers.
- It should not require reading.
Some good games for toddlers include:
- The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game: a color matching game for all ages
- Dr. Seuss™ – The Cat in the Hat I Can Do That!® Card Game: a confidence-building game of physical challenges
- Count Your Chickens: a cooperative counting game
- Barrel of Monkeys: a game that helps fine-motor skills