Toddlers are reknowned for falling over: although they try very hard to walk and run, they often end up in a pile on the floor; learning and falling over is all part of the process!
Every day your toddler is learning and through playing simple games they are constantly working towards acquiring new skills. Here are a few examples of what children are actually learning (without realising!) when they are playing with various toys:-
Ride-on toys (scooters, trucks, trikes etc) - strengthen muscles and improve balance. They also give your toddler a sence of mobility and the idea that then can get around the place in different ways.
Trundle truck (shopping cart or toy lawn mower) - these are great for balance and improving walking and running skills. They are also great for role play. Don't limit your children to the stereotypes though. Why shouldn't a boy have a dolly pram and a girl have truck?
Obstacle course - put some rope in a curvey line on the ground or a plank of wood if you have one. Make stepping stones with sheets of newspaper. See if they can negotiate the obstacles.
Rolling a ball - All children love balls. Although toddlers can't really kick a ball while standing on one foot, they can knee it or move it along with a push. This helps their balance and to understand the idea of cause and effect, that if you push a ball, it will roll.
So, give them plenty of opportunity to play with different toys and keep them active. Try out other people's toys and swap larger toys with other families so everyone gets a taste of diferent things to play on (without the expense!).
Give them plenty of encouragement and be enthusiastic when they ask to go out to play no matter the weather. Supporting children by keeping them enthusiastic and encouraged is vital. Give them freedom to explore too - if they want to walk along a low wall then give them your hand, put an arm round them and let them try it out! It will make them even more keen to try new things.
Sports day is a fun feature of summer, but toddlers who aren't old enough to attend school miss out on all this fun - why not hold your own 'Sports Day' for your littlest children and some of their friends?! Invite two or three other mum's round with their little ones, set up a picnic outside for everyone, and make up a few races for them to compete in. If it's hot, ensure there are plenty of drinks on hand!
Sports concentrate on improving motor skills and coordination, so think of some fun events that help do this. If your little ones are two young to walk or run, then many races could be held at a crawl instead. If you have a mix of ages and capabilities then introduce handicaps for the more capable children to give the littlest ones a fair chance of winning something. If you're tight for space then rather running races in parallel you can time each child one after the other. Here are some ideas:-
Flat race: have your little ones run from one end of the garden to the other, or in a loop around the garden.
Egg and spoon race: good old fashioned fun! Have your babies walk or run from one end of the garden to the other balancing a hard boiled egg on a spoon all the way. Afterwards you can add the eggs to your picnic!
Sack race: give each child a sack and have them jump from one end of the garden to the other. Shopping bags would make a suitable 'sack' but make your little athletes understand never to put bags over their heads.
Obstacle course: make up an obstacle course with your little ones having to run around, over and under objects placed around your garden.
Bat'n'ball race: have your little one hit a ball around a course in your garden - use a tennis racquet, cricket bat or any other makeshift bat.
Balancing act: if you don't have bean bags, find other items such as teddies, dolls or toy cars that your little ones can place on their heads and balance round a course.
Make up some certificates and award them at the end of each race. You'll have great fun holding your own sports day; you'll enjoy watching your children perform, and they'll have so much fun trying out the different races!
If you have snow around you then no doubt it's cold, but on the plus side, the children are probably loving it! Wrap the children up in coats, hats, scarves and gloves, put on some cosy boots, and they can go out and play while the snow lasts. Here are some game ideas to play outside in the snow:-
You may be tired of the snow, but there are still plenty of games the children can have fun with outdoors!
Children love imaginative play and will enjoy our ideas for obstacle courses and treasure hunts! You can adapt these ideas for indoor or outdoor play, and for the garden or a park.
Set up an obstacle course in the garden by taking a variety of items, such as balls, plastic toys (kids' garden tools or some basic toys from inside), string or rope, flower pots and anything else that might be found in the garden. Create obstacles where your children have to balance, weave in and out of hurdles placed on the ground, jump over and climb under things. Create a 'river' with two sticks placed a couple of feet apart and have your toddlers avoid the crocodiles in it by jumping over them. Place a stepping stone in the middle that they must step on. Have them weave in and out of flower pots to avoid a bear that's chasing them! Make up different imaginary obstacles and your children will soon run riot with their own thinking!
If you're stuck inside, you won't have so much space but you can still create snake pits to jump over, furniture to manouvre around and other creative problems to tackle!
Create a treasure hunt by taking stones and wrapping them in foil. Hide them around the garden or indoors and have your children search for them. Keep your obstacles in place, so they still have to take care crossing the river, avoid the bears and so on!
You only need to invent a few different obstructions and imaginary scenes and your children will be happy running around for ages!
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