As a toddler, your kid is in a place where they’re naturally in a toy dead zone of sorts. For instance, they may not quite have the sophistication for serious, dress-up, imagination play. But the same time, they’re getting too big for the rattly, blinky toys they once loved. Also they’re definitely not ready to play darts, unless you wanted tiny holes in your shins.
But the awesome thing about this situation is that you get to be the jungle gym, the squeaky toy and the target all at once. That’s because your toddler digs you more than any toy in the world right now. Here are some games to play to take advantage of that fact and help them develop at the same time.
Stack And Knock Down
Good For: Hand-eye Coordination, Pattern Recognition, Mimicry, Pure Joyful Destruction
Toddlers are just starting to get a hang of their hand-eye coordination, so balancing and stacking can be a helluva challenge. Still, that shouldn’t keep you from investing in a good set of old-school wooden blocks (like this set from Melissa & Doug). Encourage your kid to build along side you and maybe copy your structure. Ultimately they will be the Godzilla to your Neo-Tokyo, but that is really the best part about this game. You get it, having experienced the perverse thrill of a Jenga tower going down.
Good For: Social And Language Development, Imagination, Mimicry, Subtle Brainwashing
Copying adults is a huge past time for toddlers. They like pushing towards a sense of independence by learning they can do some of the same things you can do. Plus they just dig being helpful. The game is to simply let them “help” you with your chores. It will be fun for them, more fun for you, and probably be the only time in their life they’ll want to take out the garbage. Soak it in.
Good For: Body Awareness, Sensory Development, Pure Amazement
Bubbles are by far the most mind-blowing thing to a toddler. They cannot get enough. And the play requires little more than being able to blow soap bubbles. Of course, if you want to go the extra mile, you can make your own soap solution. Or, you can go big by making your own tri-string wand for bubbles that will dwarf your kid. Extra bonus? This game is perfect when you want to do nothing more strenuous that sit on your stoop and breath at regular intervals.
Good For: Problem Solving, Coordination, Ninja Warrior Training
The chances are good that your toddler prefers ripping the cushions and pillows off your couch much to your partner’s chagrin. You might as well make all that nonsense worthwhile. This game entails building a soft obstacle course (or softstacle course) that will allow them to climb, crawl or jump around without bonking their noggin anymore than they already do. Bonus points if you can create a warped wall out of the couch.
Good For: Socialization, Language Development, The Future Fruit Telephone Industry
It’s possible that when the banana was invented (by God, natch) it was made to look like the telephone that was sure to be invented in the future. Or, the other possibility is that A. Bell really liked his tropical bunched fruit. Whatever the reason, the fact is that a banana is perfectly suited for pretend phone play. You grab one and you give one to your kid. Then pretend to call. It’s so simple and deliciously edible. Though it will only work until the future forces parents to adapt to a “chocolate bar phone.” Boooooo.
Good For: Pattern Recognition, Hand Eye Coordination, Sensory Play, Keeping The Future Of Rock Alive
If you haven’t dug into your pots to get your kid rocking out, now is your chance. Grab some non-breakable bowls and cookware and join your kid on the floor. You each get wooden or plastic spoons. Now pump up the AC/DC and teach your kid how to slam out the rhythm to Hells Bells. You can work your way up to Rush’s Moving Pictures. For those about to rock …