When your baby starts walking, talking and napping less you know it’s time for more structured play. As a first time mum you might be thinking, what type of play should I start with? What do I need to set up engaging play experiences that suit my toddler’s needs? Here are five toddler play activities that are simple, fun and affordable.
Making your own play dough is simple and it lasts for about 6 months in an air tight container. You will be hooked on creating new scents such as lavender as well as experimenting with a range of colours for your play dough collection! The benefits of play dough are endless. It is brilliant for developing fine motor skills, pre-writing skills as well as learning new words. It has such a calming effect and of course children and parents just love playing with it. There are so many ways to play with play dough! Go for a walk and collect nature items. Use pinecones, leaves, flowers, shells and sticks to stamp into the play dough. Encourage your toddler to roll, poke, squish. There’s a wide variety of play dough recipes online to choose from, have fun creating!
Reading to your toddler every day is extremely important not only for pre-reading skills but to connect with your child emotionally and socially. Bookish play is fabulous for imaginative play and enhances talking and listening skills. Creating a book basket with a favourite picture book will keep your toddler busy and you can take the basket outside too. Choose a theme your toddler is interested in and fill the basket with toys, craft and nature items and let their imagination run wild.
Perhaps after you read the story your child could paint or draw a picture of their favourite character. Why not play dress ups or make puppets to act out the story. Encouraging your child to ‘read’ the story by looking at the pictures will build confidence and enhance communication.
Some parents cringe at the word ‘paint’ especially with toddlers! Have wipes, painting smock and old table cloth at the ready and give it a go. It is so worth it. Painting with your children can be therapeutic and kids love it when their parents get involved too. Use items found around the house such as Duplo, lemons or apples, cut out shapes in potatoes. These are all fantastic painting tools and your toddler can dip them into the paint to use as stampers. They will love making patterns.
If you don’t feel like getting messy, perhaps use water and brushes to paint outside on a wall or on rocks. A tree can be the perfect easel too and kids will love connecting with nature while they are painting.
Take your toddler outside with a basket and go for a walk. Collect nature treasures along the way, encouraging your child to talk about what they find. Their nature finds can be used in play, such as flowers, pine cones, leaves, sticks, bark and shells. Your toddler can create a picture with their nature treasures, a nature crown or nature mask.
Nature treasures are perfect for learning to count and practicing beginning sounds. Use rocks and leaves for counting 1-5 or make patterns
Water play is a great way to encourage toddlers to practice fine motor skills such as pouring, sprinkling and stirring. All you need is a bowl or tub of water and the possibilities are endless! Your child can use their nature treasures to make potions or flower soup. Add a small amount of food colouring or poster paint to colour the water. Use dried lavender or flower petals for fragrance- perfect for sensory play. Your toddler can use wooden spoons to stir, cups to fill and empty.
Sitting with a cuppa and playing with your toddler is the most rewarding experience, embrace these special moments! Play is a wonderful way to connect with your children, you will learn together while creating lifelong memories. ~ Katie and Kirsty Play along with us on Instagram @allthemumery