It’s easy to plop kids down on the sofa and give them their device to play their favorite app. At times, we would let them play in their special corner of the house with all their toys. For busy moms, it’s time that’s limiting us from doing more meaningful things together with our children.
No toys, no network connection, just a few simple tools. These ten simple things are guaranteed to develop your toddler’s imagination, creativity, and might even become one of their favorite things to do with you.
10 Games as Easy as 1-2-3
Children love games, no matter what kind. If it’s a game, they’d certainly want to play. Let’s say we are in between house chores; we can play games with the kids in between those chores. These games are quick ten-second games, the rock-paper-scissors game is a classic, every child should know how to play that.
Thumb-wrestling is also cute. Check and see if they learned a new game in school, then ask them to teach you. That would sharpen the way they interpret and relay instruction and information, then you can enjoy that new game with them.
This game would be a lot more fun if our toddler already knows a lot of words. If they don't, well, this game is actually a good exercise for them to learn new words. Try the mirror game, but with words instead of actions.
Say a word and let them repeat it, then say it in a different tone or volume. As we walk away from the room (doing other chores) let’s shout the word and wait for their response. For advanced kids, play the rhyming game. Say a word, then let them think of a word that rhymes. It may take a little bit of explaining at first, but when they get the hang of it, it’s a smart little game that develops their intellect.
8 The Trusty Pen and Paper
There are a couple of simple word games we can play with our children on pen and paper, too. Hangman is one good example: no tiles or egg timers needed, just the trusty pen and paper.
For toddlers, we can have an copy and color game with them. Draw a simple shape and see if they can make the same shape. Level up with a bigger shape or color a shape. Let the kids draw what they like and let them take the lead. From there, you can collaborate on a piece of art worthy of being magnetized on the fridge.
7 More Elaborate (but still easy) Games
Hide-and-seek, the floor is lava, and the freeze game are more elaborate games that help develop a child’s emotion, imagination, and motor skills. We’d need the whole house to play hide-and-seek and some spaces might get tossed and turned, but this game can help the kid get a good handle on their own emotions and patience at an early age.
Call them out if they can’t find you quickly for some assistance. The lava game is a game of pure imagination but can get really messy really fast. The freeze game requires music but is a fun motor exercise for the kids.
6 Playing Pretend
If you want to find out if your kid might be the next Millie Bobby Brown or Noah Jupe, go and start playing pretend with them. It’s a very easy game with no tools needed, unless we want to get serious and use some props and set decorations. Create a scenario that’s familiar to the little future Oscar winner, then act out a character.
If they get it, they will act out the other character in the scenario. Or they can mimic our character with enough gusto to make us blush with pride. This activity is very simple but it could also be the gateway to a future that we only dreamed of as a kid ourselves.
5 Go for a Walk or a "Stroll"
We might feel a little cramped doing things with our kids inside the house, so this next activity is an outdoor one. We get to breathe the fresh air and enjoy the neighborhood while taking our little ones for a walk.
It’s a nice change of pace and good exercise for both parent and child. It's also a good way to train our toddlers in walking and running. If they can't walk yet, take them for a stroll in their stroller. We can sing songs while walking, skipping to the beat and clapping along, changing the lyrics and seeing if the kids can change them, too.
4 Nature is Out There
Step out into the backyard or head to the park with your kids. Cute and harmless bugs are right there; they can play with these little creatures and appreciate nature up close. Watch them, though: the safest and cutest creepy crawlies are ladybugs, earthworms, and butterflies.
This activity teaches them to be delicate with small creatures and not hurt them. Be careful where you step, though!
3 Collect Anything
Here’s another fun and simple outdoor activity: collecting stuff. Start with something small that catches the toddler’s interest. Pick up another one and show it to them. They’d get it right away and a few minutes later, we’ll realize that we need a container for everything that they collected.
Take it a notch higher by challenging them to find the same item, but with a different color, shape or texture. Several skills, physical and intellectual, are honed and developed by this easy game. We can go home later and put the collection in clear jars to satisfy our sentimental side.
2 Bubbles, of course!
This one is a nice game while we’re washing something and the toddler is right there with us. For safety, be sure that the soap or detergent is safe for the children first. No need for a toy that makes bubbles or a bubble machine, we will make bubbles the old-fashioned way: our hand shaped in a circle drenched with soap, and just our mouth to blow the bubble away.
It’s a guarantee that when they see us doing it, they’d want to try it out for themselves. Be careful not to let the bubbles get in their eyes, and wipe out the drops on the floor to avoid slipping.
1 Lazy Time in Bed
After a busy morning, we just want to lie in bed with our children. Let’s make this precious time to rest even more precious and turn it into a bonding moment with the toddler. We can play a lot of games lying in bed with them. Hand games, word games, and timeless ones like I Spy and 20 questions.
For younger ones, tickle games are always fun, and if we’re too tired, just let them tickle us. Sing some nursery songs, try to change the rhymes and see if they can emulate. It really doesn’t matter what things we do with them as long as we are doing it with them, and again: kids love games.