Dice originated in many cultures at different times and dice games have entertained many civilisations including the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. Dominoes are believed to have evolved from dice in China in the middle ages. Today they are as popular as ever and are great for playing matching and counting games with your little ones.
Buy sets of large dice and dominoes to play with your little ones (you can even buy garden sets). Observe the different numbers of spots, look at matching pairs and count up the spots across two or more dice, or one or more dominoes.
Play 'collecting' games where you have to roll particular number combinations with the dice. For example, roll three dice and see if you can roll a consecutive 'run' (ie. 1 - 2 - 3, 3 - 4 - 5 etc). It may take a few turns but you'll get there eventually. Play 'memory' games with dominoes. Take out all the doubles, lay them around the floor, and see if you can turn up double one, then based on tiles you have looked at, double two, then double three. See how few turns you can use to pick up the whole run in order.
Dominoes are also great for building with and will help practice fine motor skills. Build pyramids and walls, or just play classic domino toppling. How long a line can you make, and topple, with a single set of dominoes?!
Young children, boys and girls, love camps - there's nothing better than a 'secret' place where they can hide from grown ups and feel inside a world of their own. As summer approaches, it becomes easier to build camps outdoors. Find a secluded spot in the garden and fashion some branches into a cover, or use an old sheet and drape it from the fence. You can even buy tents for next to nothing these days - the kids will go mad for that!
During colder months, and on days when the weather's not so good, you can build camps indoors. Erect your masterpiece in a spot where the children won't get in the way, bearing in mind that it may have to stay up for a few days! Use sheets or large towels, draped from furniture to radiators, or over clothes horses. Use clothes pegs to help secure your materials in place.
Young children love enclosed spaces in which to play. It really does become their own world set apart from the real one, and gives them a place that is theirs, where you cannot follow. They will quickly stockpile teddies, dinosaurs, dolls, tea sets, cars and all manner of kids' paraphernalia! Let them loose in their imaginative play, it's great for them to engage in pretend play, especially if they voice scenes between animals or teddies which helps them develop their language and thinking skills. Listen to them discretely from a distance and they will bring joy to your heart!
It is amazing how much children love making things out of old cardboard and boxes - they can create great buildings, instruments and who knows what else just with a few tubs and a bit of tape! Here are a few ideas if you need some inspiration to guide them:-
- Rocket: an old favourite made from a kitchen roll tube, some yogurt pots and some silver foil wrapped around it to make it shiny
- Robot: Always a good one! Make a robot by sticking all sorts of boxes together, with tubes for arms and legs. Add a face and cover with foil
- Buildings: Take a cardboard box, add some cling film squares for windows, a flap of cardboard for a door and another flat box for a lid
- Castle: Lots of different sized boxes taped together into a castle shape. Cover with brown paper and draw on some windows. Add a cardboard box door and some flags on top
- Treasures Box: Use boxes and lids to create a special treasure box for craft materials or collections of bits and pieces
- Shapes: Just make any old shape and decide what it is!
Why do modeling?
- Making models is great for learning about construction
- Craft helps to develop fine motor skills
- Craft and model making is tactile, so children get used to touching and feeling different boards, plastics and materials
- Making things grows imagination and children can choose their own design and structure thus empowering them to make decisions themselves
- Children encounter problems along the way, so this is great for thinking and problem solving
- Reusing old cardboard and materials offers a good lesson in recycling
Once your child becomes a toddler a whole new world of toys are suddenly available to them. They can shake and hold, throw and grasp, walk and run... it's a very exciting (and challenging!) time for parents and carers. But, how should a toddler's home or setting be equipped?
Toddlers basically play with whatever is available to them. They need stimulus and an actual 'thing' to play with but at this age it doesn't really matter if it's from an expensive toy shop or your kitchen drawers! They don't know if something has been passed down from an older cousin or if it's brand new.
It is, of course, difficult to put down exactly which toys your toddler needs, because it depends largely on what they like to do and what they already have, but as a rough guide, the types of toys for toddlers should probably fall into the following areas in order to give them a wide ranging and exciting choice.
The Natural World
In order to teach your toddler about nature and the world they need to learn about the natural materials available to us. Whether you live in a house with a garden or a flat without any outside space, there are so many ways to introduce the natural world.
- Go explore the park or woods and find lots of different things made from different materials. Find sticks, stones, leaves, grass.
- Go to the green grocer or market and look at all the different vegetables and fruits on offer. Look at the colours, textures and shapes. Even try one you've not have before and eat it together.
- Talk about your food and where all the things come from.
Fill a basin or an old baby bath and splash around with plain water, water will bubbles, warm water and cold water. Find spoons and sieves and all sorts of things to play with in the water.
- Add a few drops of food colouring to water and play with coloured water. Mix the colours to see what happens.
- Wash a doll or teddy. Splash around with bubbles and soap and have lots of fun. Dry them and at the end wrap them in a towel.
- Get various objects from round the house and see if they sink or float; whether they get wet (like fabric) or go slippery (like plastic). Fill and empty things and see that large beakers have more water in them than small beakers.
Buy some modelling clay or play dough, or make your own (log into ToucanLearn to find recipes) and just have a squidgey time! Make mud pies and mountains and get really messy. (Just make sure you protect your clothes, surfaces and floor!)
- Make shapes and roll the clay into balls. Squash it; pound it; prod it and see what happens.
- Add rice or lentils too and knead it into the clay to make it textured.
- Make pretend clay people, or food or animals. Snip straws and stick them in to make antennae for clay insects or arms for people.
Get a sand pit or go to the beach and build castles, make tunnels or simply add water and change dry sand into sopping wet sand.
- Make some sand mounds and stamp them flat. Count them as you go.
- Build some roads for toy cars or animals and put them in the sand. Drive them around.
- Wrap some stones with silver foil and bury them in the sand. Then try and find the buried treasure!
Try and include some building blocks in your toddler's toy box. They are great for building a make believe train, or a castle.
- Count them; sort them, build with them.
- Make a long line with them, match them and roll them.
Here we've offered just a few basic ideas. Toddlers with even some of the above stimulating equipment will have lots of brilliant experiences. Have fun!