This is a favourite pastime of any toddler and often there is as much enjoyment in the hut-building as there is in the playing in it afterwards. They might need a little or a lot of help from you but either way, they will enjoy working out how to make it a cosy and enclosed space. All you really need are cushions/pillows and blankets/duvets. Good spaces for huts are under tables or behind the sofa. Your child can decide what ‘type’ of hut (if any) it’s going to be and choose whatever props they need. Some might like to take their soft toys in and build a ‘zoo’, while others might make it a library with their favourite books (for you to read to them, of course). They might simply want to lie in there and have cuddles with you.
2. The ‘nesting’ game
This is hugely popular with toddlers as they seem to love the sense of protection and enclosure, and the feeling of breaking out of the egg and being welcomed. Your child rolls into a small ball and pretends they are an egg (penguin chick, turtle, etc). You are the mother penguin and you cover your child’s body with your body and wrap your arms around their head. You tell them a little story about being the mother penguin and how you look after your special egg; then after a while, you say you feel a wriggle. Your child will begin to wriggle and ‘hatch’ out of the egg. Your ‘chick’ then starts playing and whenever it feels hungry or tired or scared, it comes back to the nest (where you are) until it’s ready to go off again
3. Memory game
An oldie but a goodie, and can be enjoyed by both toddlers and older children. Put several items on a tray (how many items will depend on the age of the child playing) and let your child have a good look at what’s on there. You can use anything – a pen, a hair tie, a bottle of nail polish, a peg, a small toy – but smaller objects are best. Then, while your child’s back is turned, you take one (or two) of the items away and ask them to tell you what is missing. (For older children, you could make it even harder by moving the items around on the tray.)
4. Playing make-believe
Toddlerhood is the perfect time to develop your child’s imagination and all toddlers love role-playing. Spending time with your toddler playing tea parties, restaurants or shops, for example, is a wonderful opportunity to also expand their vocabulary, explain how things work (e.g., choose item, pay for it, receive item, leave the shop, etc) and to let your child lead the game. You can both have fun setting up the shop with items from your pantry, using play money to buy things and taking turns being both the shopkeeper and the shopper (unless your toddler only wants to be the shopkeeper!).
5. Treasure hunt
This is always a popular game. You hide several items around the house and your child has to nd them. You can provide clues in a several ways. They can listen to directions from you such as ‘you’re getting hot’ or ‘you’re getting colder’ depending on how close they are to the objects. Or you could give your child directions such as ‘walk to the lounge’, ‘turn left’, ‘take ve steps’ etc. Another way of providing clues is by showing your child simple drawings of where the objects are hidden. Sofas, chairs, cupboards, shoes and beds, for example, are all fairly simple to draw and your child will enjoy the challenge of working out from the pictures where they need to go.
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