Monday, July 19, 2010

Playing Games with Toddlers

Toddlers learn by playing and they learn a lot between ages 1 and 3. At 1, a child may be working on a wobbly walk and just starting to use words. But by 3, most can balance briefly on one foot and speak in short sentences.

During these important years, toddlers will enjoy playing simple games with their parents and other caregivers. But they also can start enjoying group games with other young children, though they'll need adult assistance.

Group games offer a chance for kids to be social, though toddlers will more often play alongside their friends rather than with them. They enjoy being around other kids, but will focus more on the leader or parent.

Later, kids progress from side-by-side play (parallel play) to a kind of play that allows more give and take between them. Along the way, toddlers will enjoy group games and can begin learning important lessons from them, such as how to take turns.

Expect a little chaos at first. In other words, when toddlers play a game, you have to define "game" very loosely! They're full of energy and want to explore, so don't be surprised if they can't focus for long or follow rules to the letter.

With that in mind, try the group game below if you're having a party or hosting a playgroup.

Game: The Hokey-Pokey

Number of kids: Any.
How the game is played: An oldie but goodie. Everybody stands in a circle and does the motions to the corresponding words of the song. Toddlers won't know right from left at this point, but they'll understand the body part and can follow your lead.
  • You put your left foot in,
  • You put your left foot out,
  • You put your left foot in, and you shake it all about!
  • You do the Hokey Pokey
    (Raise hands in the air and wiggle fingers.)
  • And you turn yourself around
    (Turn around in a full circle.)
  • That's what it's all about!
    (Clap with each syllable.)
Other body parts: other foot, hands, head, backside, whole self.

Tips for adults: Choose body parts that toddlers know, and throw in a new one now and then. Make sure to sing slowly enough that the kids can follow along.
What the game teaches: Names of body parts, following directions.

For more information please visit: http://kidshealth.org/parent/fitness/general/toddler_games.html#

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