Toddlers love to play simple games, whether they are chasing mommy or learning how to do the hokey pokey. During play, toddlers are learning crucial mental, physical and social skills crucial in developing into healthy adults. Parents and caregivers can help foster toddler development by playing simple games that we all know and love.
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Rolling and Kicking the Ball
Toddlers love colourful, bouncy balls they can pick up and throw. For a toddler about 16 to 20 months in age, take her outside and encourage her to throw the ball to you. Sit down on the grass facing her, and say something like, "Roll the ball to Mommy!" Roll the ball to her first, if she is not sure. She will attempt to throw or roll the ball to you. Encourage her by saying "Good job!" and clap each time she does it. As your toddler gets older and better coordinated, show her how to kick the ball to you.
Toddler Hide and Seek
Sixteen- to 20-month-old toddlers can play simple versions of "Hide and Seek." This game is a step above "Peek-A-Boo," but will not have you running and hiding somewhere where the child has to look for you. Put your toddler on a bed and gently cover him with a sheet or blanket, saying, "Where's Tommy?" Remove the towel and say, "There you are!" Hide yourself under the blanket and say, "Come find Mommy!" who will probably be giggling and laughing by this point, and trying to pull the towel off you. You can do this with a variety of items, such as blankets and sheets. Try playing the game after bath time by covering him with his bath towel.
Toddlers between the ages of 20 and 24 months can recognise and make some animal sounds. Pretend to be a tiger and growl and chase your toddler and let him chase you. Bark like a dog in a variety of ways, and your toddler will laugh, giggle, and try to do it, too. If possible, show him a picture of the animal you are mimicking as you play.
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
The classic body-part identification song, "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" that many grew up with is a timeless activity that teaches toddlers body parts, and they can sing and dance, as well. Your toddler will just stare at you the first time you play and perform the song, but then encourage them to follow you. Before you know it, your toddler will be automatically pointing to their eyes, ears, mouth and nose and other body parts on their own when they hear the song come on.
If You're Happy and You Know It
Another classic and timeless song teaches toddlers to follow instructions. Toddlers already love clapping their hands, so they will quickly catch on as the tune goes along, "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!" Do the other verses of "stomp your feet" and "shout hooray," as well. Expect to have a clapping and stomping toddler on your hands for a while after learning this song.
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