My son loves games and it has helped him extend his vocabulary and motor skills. It can sometimes be difficult to think of games to play with our babies and toddlers with their limited vocabulary and immature motor skills, so I will share some games with you that my son and I have been playing. I will add on to this list as our game repertoire grows. The games I have listed require little to no equipment and so will probably not cost you a dime. I hope that these few ideas can inspire many more game ideas that you and your babies and toddlers can play.
Always remember that when it comes to toddlers and games, you should not force them into a game if they are not interested in playing it at the time, it will not be fun for them or for you. Try again when they are in the mood. It will usually go better when they are well rested. Also, do not get frustrated with your toddler when he or she cannot concentrate or does not yet have the skills necessary to play a particular game. You probably will not have to wait much longer before he or she does acquire the skills needed for the game. When trying to think of games to engage your 1 to 2 year old in, remember to keep it simple, let them learn at their own pace and most importantly, have fun!
I Can See
Can be played by: Those babies or children that have developed the ability to point at objects OR identify objects by some other means.
Benefits: Increases vocabulary
Use the phrase “I can see” followed by an object that can be seen by both of you. For example: “I can see a curtain”. Then ask the question: “Where is the curtain?”. Your child should then point to the object that you are asking her to locate, or she can touch the object. Give them some recognition for identifying the right object or show them the object if they cannot identify it.
My son also likes to repeat the word as he points. Encourage them with some applause and smiles for each object correctly identified. For a different feel, play the game while both of you are lying on your back on the floor. They will love looking at things from a different angle with you. This game is great to keep them entertained during nappy change time too. My son loves this game so much that he even initiates it by saying “see see”.
The Clean-Up game
Can be played by: Those babies or children that can walk and are able to identify some objects.
Benefits: Teaches the use of the phrases “please” and “thank you”; increases vocabulary; teaches colours and shapes; teaches your child the good habit of cleaning up after play.
Equipment: Small toys and a toy box or basket
Seat yourself next to your toddler’s toy basket or box. When toys are strewn around the floor, ask you toddler to pass you each toy using the word “please” and “thank you” each time. When asking him to pass the toy, describe it by colour, shape and the name of the toy. You can then put that toy into his toy box or basket. For example: “Please pass me the yellow block.” And when he identifies the yellow block and brings it to you. Say “thank you”.
When all toys have been picked up, celebrate the achievement with some applause and cheering. The next level of the game would be to allow your toddler to put the toy into the box himself.
The Counting Game
Children love to see their parents jumping around (more than usual); capitalise on this with this simple counting game.
Can be played by: Any age child can be involved. The smaller toddler or infant can watch you from a safe distance. The older toddler can join in on the fun.
Benefits: Fun way to introduce them to counting.
Equipment: A soft large inflated ball or balloon and some space to throw your ball high.
Throw your ball or balloon into the air and try to keep it from touching the floor by hitting or kicking it up. Count out loud how many times you make contact with the ball. When your child is too small to join in she will still love to watch this and possibly even learn how to count. Make sure your child is seated a little away from you so she has a good view. My toddler is usually in the swing when we play this game. The more exaggerated your movements are the more entertained they will be.
Who can play: Most toddlers will benefit in some way from being asked questions whether or not they can answer them right now.
Benefits: Increases vocabulary, and comprehension.
Equipment: A book with pictures.
Change up your reading time by quizzing your child on his/her picture book. Ask questions such as:
Where is the owl in the picture/book?
How many eyes does the owl have?
What colour is the apple in this picture?
Start with basic questions and the complexity of the questions can increase with your child’s development.
Or The next time your child opens a book he is familiar with, ask him to tell you the story instead. You will be surprised how well they do even with a very limited vocabulary. This will also start them off on the path to confident public speaking.
The Nursery Rhyme Game
Who can play: Those toddlers that have been exposed to nursery rhymes and have started talking.
Benefits: Encourages memory and increases vocabulary
Repeat your child’s favourite nursery rhymes but leave out the last word in every sentence or paragraph. Encourage them to fill in this last word. Repeat the word after they have said it and continue to the next line of the nursery rhyme. Repeating the word will correct their pronunciation and correct the word if it is the wrong word. This works especially well with rhyming nursery rhymes as the rhyme gives them a clue to the next word.
Example: “Twinkle twinkle little…? How I wonder what you…?”
Other resources I like to use for free games are the Fisher Price Baby apps or the CBeebies website: