Play is more than fun for babies and children. It’s how they learn and develop. While children do need time to play alone and with other children research shows that playtime with a close adult is one of the most important things you can do.
See below for some ideas of fun experiences to share with your child.
Please note: Some ingredients used in sensory/craft experiences could trigger an allergic response. For this reason, please check the suitability of materials used in activities to make sure they will not affect your child. Also remember to never leave young children unattended whilst they are exploring sensory/craft experiences.
Putting together a collection of objects around a theme into a small bag or box can develop your child’s knowledge. Decide on a topic such as tractors or bathtime and include objects in the box that relate to the theme, maybe a photo, a toy and a book. The key to the excitement is you the adult and ideally the box is only opened at special times. The chatter between you maintains the engagement and your child’s learning.
Ready-made chatterboxes can be borrowed from your local library in the form of Story Sacks - they're chock-full of books, games and toys for children, all based around popular children's picture books, and of course they're free to borrow. Ask in your local library or see the full list.
Children love to explore the effects of ice melting. Try putting a plastic/rubber animal into a container and then fill it with water, and put it into the freezer until frozen. Once frozen, take out of freezer and tip into washing up bowl, or something similar and watch as the ice slowly melts, revealing the animal.
This is a good exploratory play experience to offer at home, this play will further develop your child’s communication and understanding of cause and effect. It is advisable that you leave the ice at room temperature for a little while before your child begins to explore it and that your child wears gloves!
Here’s a great wintry play idea - why not make a frozen icecap play zone to use as a base to play with small world animals and figures? This is a good play experience to offer at home, this play will further develop your child’s communication, develop their imagination and understanding of cause and effect. It is advisable that you leave the ice at room temperature for a little while before your child begins to explore it and that your child wears gloves!
Play is the main way that babies and toddlers learn about the world. With your help, it’s also a wonderful way to support their language development.
As a parent, you are your child’s best playmate so try to spend time every day playing together.
Newborns love physical play, especially when you gently tickle their face or count their fingers and toes. When your baby gets a little older and stronger, offer them lots of toys or things that are safe to go into their mouth, and talk about the objects for them.
Make lots of play sounds to go with what’s happening, like “brmm, brmm” as you push a car along. That way, your child will hear different speech sounds and learn that listening to voices is fun. Your baby will love hearing the same little rhymes and stories, and playing games like peek-a-boo, over and over again.
You don’t need lots of toys to play – your baby can play with safe and simple things from around the house.
Mix 2 cups of corn flour, 1/3 to ½ cup of vegetable oil and 3-4 tablespoons of silver glitter (optional).
This is a good exploratory play experience to offer at home, this play will further develop your child’s communication and physical skills which will aid early writing.
Singing songs and rhymes with your child is really important because rhythms and repetitive language make it easier for children to learn language skills. Share rhymes with your child and watch the learning begin.
Words For Life has some popular songs and nursery rhymes, with some mp3 versions to listen and sing along to as well.
When sharing rhymes with your child, help them to move their arms and legs to the rhythm, keep in time to the beat, it doesn’t matter what movements you use. With an older child you can try clapping and marching to the beat. Find more information about learning with nursery rhymes.
Do you have a clothes basket full of washing to do? Jobs like sorting the washing can be fun for you and your child to do together! Your child will enjoy matching items – pairs of socks, clothes the same colour, things the same size, Mummy’s clothes, Daddy’s clothes etc.
Help your child to learn new words by talking about the feel of fabrics - soft, smooth, rough. Talk about the different steps of washing, drying, folding, ironing and putting away. Involve your child to load the washing machine, take the clothes out, pass you the pegs, fold the clothes, put the clothes in a pile, pass you the next item as you iron, or if they have their own pretend child iron and ironing board give them small items to iron themselves.
Children love things that move and turn, this is why they enjoy playing with cars and vehicles of all kinds. How about having some races or exploring the speed of their vehicles along a path, down a slope or even through a tube! Why not have a competition to see whose or which car travels the furthest, fastest or slowest! Help your child to learn new words by talking about the speed of the vehicle and races, which car is the fastest, slowest, first, second, third? This play will further develop your child’s communication and understanding of cause and effect.