play ideas and game/toy RECOMMENDATIONS
Our goals are to make it easy for parents to play with their children and to provide parents with activities that promote development. Playing with our children helps them build skills beyond letter recognition and counting.
Play builds confidence, curiosity, creates an attachment/bond with parents, builds attention skills, boosts emotional and social skills/development and promotes brain development in children of all ages.
The science behind play.
Here is a scientific article summarizing the connection between neuroscience, play and brain development. Research suggests that a child's brain develops best with an engaged parent. Here is the research behind this.
According to scientists, pretend play is crucial to a child's development. Both parent-led and child-led pretend play promote the development of language and emotional development (among other skills!).
We hope you have fun playing! For more information on development in children ages 0-5 read our articles.
Click on one of our recent posts to get more details about the activity…
Activities for babies
Activities for toddlers
Arts and Creativity
Pretend Play ideas
Curious Neuron Recommendations
First babies will enjoy smashing towers. Build towers with them and say "SMASH" to get them to link the word to the action. Once my baby learned this word, I would use it as a game to play with my toddler and baby. My toddler had to stand at a certain distance away (since she had an advantage of course!) and I would make the tower then say "SMASH". First one to smash it wins! We love using our Infantino blocks for this activity.
9 month milestone: Watches something fall
2 year milestone: Builds towers with 4 or more blocks
Even if your baby is only 5-6 months, naming objects around them is a game you can play to help promote their language development. As they get older (around 8 months), I like showing them 2 objects at a time. Two different colours or animals or fruits etc. After I show them, for example a "dog" and a "cat", I then ask, "Which one is the cat?"(I also make the sound of a cat). If they can't point yet, I then raise the cat. When they are able to point, I keep asking the question with different objects until they eventually point at it!
9 month language milestone: Using fingers to point at things.
Babies love to watch objects move around. These crank cars are a fun way to do this. You could build a tower and try to hit the tower as well. If you have an older child, this could be their challenge. This way, both kids are entertained!
4 month milestone: watching moving objects moving eyes side to side
We found this activity in our Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do. This activity teaches children that to halves make a while. We folded a paper in half, drew a robot, then cut it out and decorated it. It was simple to do and we had fun making out robot voices while playing with them.
Imaginary play such as "police officer" is great for building executive functions. These skills are important in school and need to be developed as of infancy. For this game, our "jail" is the hola hoop. The "police officer" determines 1-3 rules (for 2-3 year olds start off with 1 rule). Rules are for instance, "you can't say your name" or "you can't say the word "I" or "you could only walk on 1 leg" or "you can only walk backwards" and so on. You then continue your day trying to remember these rules and if you break them...off to jail! We stick to 1-5 min for jail time, then switch rules. We used a silk scarf for our "handcuffs".
Challenging your child's memory will help them build these strong memory skills that will in turn be valuable when they begin school. You can play memory games with cards or you can also turn it into a game. Take either a few toys or kitchen items. As long as they are items your child can name. If you are doing this with a 2 year old, start with 2-3 items. Name each item with your child, then ask them to turn around or block their eyes. Take one object away and ask them "What's missing?". As they get better at naming the object, add more objects. If your child is 4-5 years of age you can start with about 5-6 objects. If they struggle with this just remove some objects and start at a level that is easier for them, then make your way up.
Playing post office ahas many different steps and takes a long time to play. First, we start by preparing the "letters" we will bring to the post office. We colour and use stickers to create a picture for a family member. Then we add this to our envelop. Writing the person's name on the envelop helps children learn to recognize different names including their own. Then my toddler pretends she works at the post office and I deliver my mail to her. We then switch the set up to playing "house". While I pretend I am home, she either delivers the mail in our mailbox or pretends to ring the doorbell and makes a delivery. We also enjoy using magazines to add to the items being delivered.
Creating your own search find allows you to adapt to your child's ability. You can use stamps or stickers to do this.
Age 2: Start simple with 1 main stamp and not more than 2 colours. Have them find 1 stamp that you hide among the other stamp, or have them circle all the stamps of the same colour.
Ages 3-5: With older children, you can make it more challenging. Add many different stamps to hide the 1 stamp you want to them to find. Or add many colours.
Being creative with Easter eggs is a fun way to keep them around the house a little longer after Easter is over! We had lots of fun placing them on roles of toilet paper or paper towels, then hitting them with a spatula. You an also throw them and play baseball with them or keep them on the toilet paper role and kick them.