Most children are learning at home these days, and it can be challenging for parents. This is especially true for toddlers, who haven’t enrolled in school and are not receiving learning activities from their teachers. Toddlers or children who have just started walking to about three-years-old are just beginning to be self-aware and are ready to explore the world. Here are five toddler learning games that are fun and educational for both fine and gross motor skills.
This game can also be called Hide ‘n Seek, depending on how you play it. It’s an exercise in problem-solving, listening, memory, and social skills. For the Treasure Hunt, you hide something worth finding such as a cookie, new box of crayons, other gifts, or a piece of fruit. Make sure you hide it close to your child’s eye level and part, or all, of it, should be in plain sight. You can direct your child with hot and cold instructions. It may take a few trials before they figure it out, but once they do, they don’t forget.
For Hide ‘n Seek, you may use a plush animal or doll and pretend it is hiding from you. For this one, you don’t give instructions but allow your child to look without help. Make sure the animal is at least partially in plain sight and at eye level because for both versions, it’s important that your toddler finds the object before she becomes frustrated.
Sorting colors and shapes is on every pre-school or kindergarten syllabus, and you can easily do it at home with dyed pasta. To dye the pasta, put uncooked pasta in a plastic bag and add a little water-based paint mixed with a drop of white glue. Shake the bag until all the pasta is covered. It will take a few hours to dry, so it’s best to make it ahead of time.
There are many ways to sort colored pasta. If you use different shaped pasta such as penne, fusilli, and shells, your child can sort them into shapes as well as colors. The pieces can be glued to paper to create artwork.
You can play this game over and over again and eventually allow your toddler to control your movement, so you can model listening skills. It teaches self-control, which is a useful social skill for dealing with conflicts and staying calm during negotiations and accepting compromise. It can be played with more than two people.
One person is the controller and the others line up some distance away. The controller hides her eyes and says ‘green-light’. This is the signal that the players can start to move towards the controller. After a few seconds, she says ‘red-light’ and opens her eyes. The players need to freeze. Anyone who moves after ‘red-light’ is called is sent back to the beginning. The first player to reach the controller gets to be the controller. Children tend to be very strict when playing this game, but with toddlers, you need to give them a little margin because of the wiggle factor.
Throwing is an important activity for developing gross motor skills. It requires the use of the whole arm for hand/eye coordination, aiming, and counting. Since you may not want your toddler throwing balls around your living room, start with crumpled up newspaper. This is a great outlet for energy and can be played in several ways.
Once you have made your balls, you can line them up and count them, then start throwing. You can play catch, throw them into a bin or throw at a target, and keep score. This activity is so popular, don’t be surprised if your child wants to continue playing long after you are ready to stop.
Toddlers are becoming steadier on their feet as time goes by. Games that promote physical actions help this process. Simon Says improves listening skills, following instructions along with the physical movement. You will be Simon at first, but your child will also want to tell you what to do, and you can model excellent listening and movement skills.
During the years from one to three is when children blossom into individuals. This is your chance as a parent to help the physical, mental and spiritual growth in positive and fulfilling directions. These games are just a few of the toddler learning games to help him grow, model good behavior, and have fun together.