For every child, playtime is a chance to let their imagination run wild, with make-shift dens or fantasy friends being brought to life through fun and inventive games. However, these playful sessions also present the perfect opportunity to learn, especially for toddlers, who are constantly absorbing information and taking on new knowledge. Consequently, to help you make the most of your toddler’s playtime, we’ve compiled a list of fun and educational games that will not only bring your toddler great enjoyment but will also serve to stimulate their learning capabilities:
1.Pretend Grocery Shopping
Going around the ‘grocery shop’ and filling up a toy trolley or shopping bag with different items is a novel and enjoyable way for your toddler to learn about different foods. You can use a variety of items to stock your pretend store, from plastic toy fruits to recycled cereal boxes or colourful tin cans and packets of rice and pasta. No matter what you choose, your little one will love selecting an item and placing it in their trolley or bag.
A scavenger hunt is a great opportunity to test your child’s cognitive abilities while helping them learn more about different objects and their unique qualities. Using verbal instructions, send your toddler on the hunt for an inanimate object with a particular feature. For example, you could ask them to find ‘something blue’ or bring you ‘something soft’. Alternatively, you could ask them to select a variety of objects at random and ask them different questions about them such as ‘which is the largest’ or ‘which one is yellow’.
3.Letter Writing and Mailing
Writing and ‘posting’ letters can be made into an enjoyable and beneficial activity using a few simple props; take a selection of old letters or junk mail and use an empty tissue box or cut an opening in the top of an old cardboard box. Then, show your little one how to post a letter by popping it through the slot or take the opportunity to practise some early handwriting by helping them write their very own letter to a person of their choosing.
4.Hot and Cold
Playing ‘hot and cold’ is a fantastic way to enhance your toddler’s emotional skills as they will have to learn to be inquisitive, patient and determined to find what they are looking for. To play the game, select a few of your child’s favourite items and hide them in different places around the room or house. Then, follow your little one as they search for their things, giving them clues by saying ‘hot’ when are approaching their item or ‘cold’ when they are moving away from it. If they get frustrated or despondent, encourage them by holding their hand while suggesting they look in particular areas that they haven’t yet searched.
Like most toddlers, your little one will probably have a selection of stuffed toy animals in their bedroom or toy box; one of the best games to play with these furry friends is animal charades. Pop one of these cuddly toy animals into an empty pillow case and get your child to pull it out and act out that animal’s characteristics. If your little one is struggling to articulate the animal’s features or how it behaves, gently prompt them by asking specific questions, e.g. ‘what noise does it make?’
Puzzles are one of the most diversely educational games for toddlers to play. Not only do they simultaneously provide mental and physical stimulation by requiring your child to problem solve by piecing the puzzle together but they also help to improve their emotional skills by requiring perseverance and patience. Additionally, puzzles can also serve to enhance your toddler’s memory while helping them discover new shapes and colours!
At our independent preschool, Devon, we encourage children to learn and play by incorporating a variety of enjoyable and educational games into the school day. So, as well as trying out the selection of games mentioned above at home, why not ask your little one what other games they like to play at preschool and integrate these into home life too?