Games and activities are essential for fueling your child’s enthusiasm to learn And guess what, the greatest ones don’t require expensive toys or complicated supplies. Check out these tips for fun games and activities using household items, and save yourself some money!
Here are a couple games to try with your newborn baby.
- The Dropping Game
Babies begin to build their hand skills very early, and being able to grasp an object is the foundation for lifelong skills such as buttoning a shirt or writing with a pencil. Put a capped marker or plastic spoon in your child’s hand, then wait for him to drop it! Make sure to praise him when he drops it, then try it again! Take a look at this video to get started.
- The Reaching Game
Dangle a scarf, sock or colorful piece of cloth in front of your baby. Help him touch the fabric or shake it to get his attention. Encourage any movements toward the fabric by smiling and complimenting his efforts. Your positive comments encourage him to practice this skill, even though he will only kick and swat randomly at first. Make sure to keep an eye on him during this activity because scarves can present a hazard to babies.
At six months, your sitting up-baby can partake in more complex fun.
- Where’s the Object?
Sit at a table with your baby in your lap facing away from you. Show her an interesting object like a piece of fruit or a board book and talk about it to stimulate her interest. Place the fruit on the table and turn your baby so that she faces away from the object. Praise your baby’s efforts if she tries to turn to locate it. If she makes an effort to find the fruit, give it to her and give her a hug.
- Acting it Out
Play a game using rhyming words and actions to help your baby learn to predict the future. Hold your baby on your lap while you sing a song, such as “This is the Way the Farmer Rides,” or say a rhyme, such as: Ride the horsey, ride to town. Ride the horsey, don’t fall down. Bounce your baby to the rhythm of the song or rhyme and have him follow the actions indicated in the lyrics. For example, for “Ride the Horsey”, bounce your baby and then have him “fall down” through your legs while holding on to his chest, under his arms. Repeat the rhyme and movements several times. Then, pause before having your baby “fall down”. If he smiles, kicks his feet or tries to move his body down, your baby is learning to predict the future! Check out this video to watch how.
For children that are on their way to toddling, here are more activities.
- Scribble, Scribble
Your child will enjoy making marks on paper with crayons or in sand with a stick. Allowing him to practice will help him become aware of out how it feels to draw while using his hands and arms. By offering positive feedback when he makes different types of lines, he will notice how it feels to make a variety of designs. Check out this video to watch how.
- Roll the Ball
Help your child learn to share. Rolling a ball back and forth teaches cooperation, which will prepare your child for more advanced kinds of play with other children. Sit a few feet away from each other and get rolling.
- Splish, Splash!
Playing with water is fun! Talk to your child about his actions bathing in the tub or splashing in puddles. Some things you could say are: “Wow, you are splashing a lot. The soap is really slippery! You are pouring your pail of water. Playing in the water makes you laugh and be happy!”
Your preschooler learns so much with games and activities. Try these ideas to stimulate her creativity.
- Learn to Trace
Collect a variety of lids, plates and boxes that have different shapes. Sit at the table with your child on your lap, and show him how to trace one of the objects with his finger. Then, give him a crayon or pencil to trace around the object onto a piece of paper. Show him the shape that you created. Invite him to trace the line with his finger, and talk about the shape. Discuss how it matches the object that he traced.
- Let’s Make Decorations
To do this activity, use string or yarn and objects with large holes. This could be shower curtain rings, bracelets, toilet paper rolls or cookie cutters. Be sure to pick items that will be safe for your child to play with, and stay close by. To start, tie one of the objects at the end of the string, and invite him to string the other objects through in whatever order he wants! Help your child hang it in his room when you’re done. Supervise this game because strings can be potentially dangerous for kids to play with. Follow along with this video to help you get started.
- Spatial Relationships
For this activity, you will need a cardboard box large enough for your child to fit in, but small enough to move around easily. Let her play with the box. Talk to her about where she is relative to the box. “Wow, you are in the box! Now you’re behind the box!” Try lifting the box over her head. “Now you are under the box!” You can do this with more than just a box. When you are getting ready or making a meal, talk about what you need. “The fork is in the drawer. The bowl is on the counter. See if you can find your shoes under your bed.”
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