Toddler years is a period when kids learn fastest. At no other time ever in their life, they are going to replicate this speed and vigor for learning. But that should not make toddler years boring and confined to a desk. Rather the contrary!
Kids learn best while playing. Playful learning can deeply influence a child’s cognitive, physical and mental growth. Now imagine combing this form of learning with early, toddler years.
What you get is an amazing opportunity to teach kids while they are growing at their best rates. So, pick from the below listed kids games and give your toddler a super learning boost while having fun!
30 Tech-Free Toddler Games to boost your Kid’s Mind
1. Simon Says
This is one game every child loves. The versions and alterations are endless with this game. Practice movement, body parts, emotions (Simon says make a grumpy face), language (Simon says name a fruit with ‘A’ sound), numbers (Simon says count to 10)…the options are endless.
2. Hockey Pockey
Young children love dancing on rhymes. ‘Hockey-Pockey’ is just the right one to practice listening, coordination skills and directions. Just play the song and let your child dance to the tune.
3. Scavenger Hunt
Keep your toddler busy by hiding small items of stationary or small toys around the house. Draw the items hidden on a sheet to help them find out the right things. Drop hints or make a map and turn your little one into an early explorer.
Take an old bed sheet and fold it into half. Hold two corners yourself while your kid holds the other two. Now, swing your parachute to keep your little one’s stuffy happy or simply swing is fast and slow in a rhythm. Either way it is fun game.
5. Obstacle Course
Draw an obstacle course on your driveway or living room floor with erasable chalks. These games are great at building motor skills, coordination and control in young children. They promise endless fun while giving you some time to just sit and watch your kid ace through the obstacle course.
6. Funny Faces
Build emotional acumen with this game. Sure to get your little one laughing, this game requires your child to guess the emotion behind the face you make.
It is a great way to teach children how to pick up facial clues and establish emotional connections with them. This in turn helps them to be empathetic to others. Once your child is pro at reading your face, encourage her to make faces according to the emotion you call out.
7. Pretend Play
One game that is part of every child’s childhood. Pretend play is a great tool to encourage thinking, teach appropriate behaviors and practice social skills. Just give your child the theme and let her creativity flow.
8. Balance Beam
Make a balance beam by sticking scotch tape on the floor and let your children upgrade their balance and coordination skills. You can make endless patterns to increase/decrease the difficulty level.
9. Sorting Box
This is open-ended game that uses loose parts. Create your own sorting box by mixing various loose parts like pebbles, buttons, pom-poms and natural materials like leaves, sticks etc.
Encourage your child to sort these materials according to his/her chosen criteria. It could be according to size, shape, color, feel or strength of the materials. Immensely engaging activity and certainly a must try!
10. Blindfold Touch and Tell
Take a cloth/laundry bag and fill it with your child’s toys. Now blindfold your child and let them pick one toy from the bag. Encourage your child to feel the toy, it’s texture and then guess what it is.
It is a great game to help your children strengthen their senses of touch and feel. You and your little one will be surprised how tricky and fun this game is.
11. Hide and Seek
Another childhood game that will take you down the memory lane. This game is best played in a big group. Let your toddler discover the wonderful hiding places around the house and take turns finding his favourite hiding spot.
12. We Are Going on a Bear Hunt
Get your children moving on ‘We are going on a Bear Hunt’ game. Encourage them to move their bodies and enact the verbs described in the rhyme. Let them lie on the floor to practice their swimming action and stand up to swish through the grass. This is a great game to practice body control and movements.
13. Chidya Urr
An old favorite, chidya urr is one game we all have grown up playing. Practice flightless birds, animals and birds with this fun easy game.
14. Sand Play
Take an old cardboard box, line it with a plastic sheet and your kiddo’s sand box is ready. Sand play is superb way to build fine motor skills. Children need to feel, manipulate and squish things between their fingers to work their sensory skills. This messy game is just that.
15. Color Spy
This used to my savior when I had to keep my kid busy while tending to do some work. The best part is that it is a zero prep game. All you need to do is to ask your child to spot a particular color within his/her surroundings.
It’s a great activity for working up on observation and color recognition skills.
16. Memory Blocks Game
Reuse your child’s old blocks and repurpose them into this memory game. All you need is some stickers of animals, birds, car or whatever your little one is fond of! Paste the sticker on one side on the block.
Much like the memory game, keep the blocks with stickers facing up for your child to observe. Now, flip the blocks so that the sticker side is face down and ask your child to pick the called out sticker.
17. Under My Blanky
Teach object permanence with this simple game. As the name suggests, you hide your child’s beloved toy under a blanket and ask them to search for it. This will help them understand the concept of object permanence and also help ease their anxiety when you are not around.
For older children, hide more than one object under the blanket and ask to name the objects you have hidden. This cute little memory game will help them work on their concentration and observation skills.
What a better way to keep a toddler engaged than helping them match different socks. Not only you will be teaching them about sorting but also color, size, pattern attributes. Pick bright colored socks in varying sizes to make it enriching.
19. Lock and Key
This is one busy bag game that will keep your child occupied while you work. Take some big locks and keys and ask your child to match the correct lock to its key. Wonderful at building fine motor and critical thinking skills.
20. Pipe Cleaner Shapes
Early years is unique time to build abstract and out of the box thinking. Help your child think and construct simple shapes from pipe cleaners. Let them take a call in making shapes using one or multiple pipe cleaners. For example: A square can be made by bending one pipe cleaner or by arranging 4 pipe cleaners in the required spatial arrangement. Allow your child to think on their own before you show them both the techniques.
For more ideas on building Early Numeracy Skills, check out How to Get Children Interested in Math Early On.
21. Fruit Salad
Unleash your child’s creativity with this loose parts inspired game. Ask them to make a fruit salad using the loose parts presented. The catch is that they have to include the fruits you mention by matching the fruit’s color with the loose parts.
Awesome at building critical thinking skills, this is a must play game for every toddler.
22. Patty Cake With Play-dough
Play the rhyme and let your toddler pat and bake a play-dough cake. Use some loose parts to make the cake decorations. It is great to practice alphabets too. Just replace alphabet ‘B’ with other alphabets. Let your child listen intently as you sing and draw the alphabet called out on the cake.
23. Row Row Row Your Boat
This musical game is played on the time-honored rhyme ‘Row-Row-Row Your Boat’. Sit across your child on the floor facing each other and move your hands in rhythm, mimicking the rowing motion. This game works at building coordination skills and hence great for little children.
24. Pin The Donkey’s tail
An old classic birthday party game, this one never fails to delight toddlers. All you need is a big picture of donkey without the tail, of course. Blindfold your child and let them pin the tail (ribbon) on the donkey. We suggest you paint the donkey (or any other animal of your kid’s choice) with your tot rather than printing one.
25. Finger Painting
Explore the world of fingerprints with this simple game of finger painting. Stamp your child’s and your thumb side by side. Ask your child which print is bigger or wider. It is an excellent way to start initial math enquiry. Or take the creative route and make animals using finger printing.
26. Balloon Painting
Help your child explore colors by making patterns with balloon painting. Blow small balloons and let your children make their very own balloon painting by dipping the balloon in the paint and stamping it on plain paper. Bonus points for mixing colors.
This boredom buster is a classic. You don’t need to invest in any special blocks or tiles. Plain, old cardboard boxes will do just fine. Just make sure they are empty. Ask your child to stack them to build a tall tumble tower and let the game begin.
28. Froggy Hops
A great energy buster, this game is really good for strengthening gross motor skills of your little one. Mark a start and finish point and let the race begin. Make sure to reward your little one on the finishing point with a big high five.
29. Animal Walk
This is a favorite with little kids. Ask your child to waddle like a Penguin, stomp like an elephant, run like an ostrich or thump his chest like a gorilla. The list is endless.
30. Sound Box
Start early STEM with this excellent activity. All you need is some empty boxes and grains/lentils of your choice. Empty playdough jars are great for this activity. Add varying amount of lentils in the boxes.
Ask your child to shake them and listen carefully to the sounds each box makes. Let your child define the sounds made in terms of high, soft or sharp. Next ask her to arrange them in increasing/decreasing order of sound the containers make.