Toddlers learn through active exploration and play in their daily lives. Many traditional childhood games provide opportunities for toddlers to practice their growing physical and cognitive skills. Learning games for toddlers are often simple and use items found in most homes. Sorting, counting, memory and large motor skills are common themes for learning games for toddlers.
Memory is a classic learning game for toddlers. The object of Memory is to turn cards over two at a time to find a matching pair. If the cards don’t match, they are flipped back over and the next person takes a turn. Different versions of memory are available for purchase, or you can make your own. Cut a piece of heavy paper into cards. Use matching stickers to create pairs of cards. Laminating the cards will make them more durable for toddler hands.
I Spy is a popular game for toddlers that takes no special equipment. One person picks an object in the room without telling the other players. He then states, “I spy with my little eye something that is ____”. A word that describes the object is inserted at the end of the sentence. The other players look around the room and guess the identity of the object. I Spy helps toddlers learn shapes, colors and other descriptive attributes of objects. They practice focusing on details of objects around them.
Shape Hunt is another game that requires no special equipment. Walk around the house or neighborhood in search of objects of a certain shape. For example, on a triangle search, you may see a traffic sign that is triangular-shaped. This game teaches toddlers shapes by allowing them to identify the shapes in their surroundings.
Sorting games allow toddlers to learn how to categorize objects and identify similarities and differences. You can use any objects you have around the house. Toys can be sorted by color, size or type. Plastic clothespins can be sorted by color. Food can be sorted by flavor. Search the house for objects that lend themselves to sorting games.
Follow the Leader
Follow the Leader focuses on motor skills for toddlers as well as their ability to follow directions and verbal cues. Toddlers will enjoy following the leader and taking a turn as the leader. Follow the leader can be played either inside or outside with any number of toddlers.
Select an upbeat song and encourage your toddler to march to the beat. Pause the music and have your toddler freeze until you resume the music. Continue starting and stopping the music. Your toddler can also dance instead of marching if preferred. This music activity teaches them listening skills, improves coordination and exposes toddlers to a variety of music.