Need more ideas to play with your child? You’ve come to the right place.
But first, why should you play with your child? Children learn through play. Parents bond with children through play. To achieve both, learning and bonding, parents must play with children.
When you play with your toddler or preschooler, it doesn’t need to be long. Some activities here only require 10-15 minutes. This is more than enough if you do it consistently. And also they don’t need to be expensive.
The bottom line is the activities must be fun and refreshing. When I see my child’s eyes sparkle when she plays, I know I have done the right thing and that is my reward.
Here are the 70 games and activities that you can do together with your child:
1) Shadow tag. On a sunny day or at night (with the help of streetlights), go to an open area. Chase around using shadows. Step on each other’s shadows. To make it more fun, try overlapping shadows to form a person with multiple hands. This will draw laughter from your toddlers.
2) Guessing game. Use your fingertip and write a number or alphabet on your child’s back. Ask him to guess what you’ve written. This is ticklish to some and they will laugh. But a fun way to learn numbers and alphabets.
3) Plant red bean trees. Use egg holder and cotton. Water everyday. This takes a longer time to follow through. You can teach your kids about plants and growth, and patience too!
4) Create a collage from newspaper and magazine clippings.
5) Go to playground.
6) Go picnic.
7) Watch TV. Not for too long, about 30 minutes on educational programs. Don’t leave them alone, watch with them. Take note what makes your kids tick.
8 ) Play jigsaw puzzle.
9) Play kite.
10) Play tug-of-war. You and your kid hold each end of a blanket (or children’s bolster) on a carpeted area. Take turns tumbling down.
11) Play simplified version of “Win, Lose or Draw.” Make a simple gesture and let your child guess what it is. For example, making a sandwich and eat it. Reverse roles.
14) Inner feelings. Before bed, ask your child, “What’s your happiest moment today?” Listen to the inner world of your child without interrupting.
15) Get a video camera and record what your kids are doing (both happy and sad moments). Watch the clips together. It’s fun to see their expressions seeing themselves on TV.
16) Online coloring. One good site is en.coloriage.com. This site offers a new drawing every day. Fun way to teach kids how to use a computer and a mouse.
17) Take a stroll in the park. This can be great exercise for you and your child. There are also jogging strollers that allow for a great workout and there is no need to worry about your youngster keeping up with you.
18) Playdough. Kids love to squeeze and playdough can be made into different shapes. Good for motor skills and creativity. You can buy playdough from a nearby toy store or you can make your own with these recipes. Or follow these pictorial instructions. Why not do it with your kids? It’s another activity in itself.
19) Play building blocks.
20) Play board games.
21) Prepare meals together.
22) Blow bubbles.
23) Bath play and bubble bath. Kids just love playing with water. Add in some bath toys. Be watchful and don’t let your kids unattended.
24) Go jungle trekking.
25) Go to waterfalls.
26) Build a castle. Materials: Styrofoam, toothpicks and Post-It notes. Great idea from Asha Dornfest.
27) Visit friends (who have kids) with your kids. Let your kids play and socialize.
28) Take a trip to the zoo.
29) Go to underwater aquarium.
30) Go to a beach. Swimming, make sand castles, collecting sea shells.
31) Go to a petting zoo.
32) Collect stamps. Let your child cut out the stamps by himself (make sure you supervise and use a pair of safety scissors) and separate stamps from envelope by soaking in the water. Dry them. Put them in the album.
33) Mirror fun. Stand still in front of a mirror. Use an erasable marker pen to draw funny features on your child’s reflections.
34) Play with magnifying glass. Burn a dried leaf, check out fine print in newspaper, leaves, insects.
35) Bring your child a bookstore or library nearby that has story telling sessions.
36) Basketball. Use a soft rubber ball and a wastebasket as the basket.
37) Sing together.
38) Dance to the tunes of children’s rhymes.
39) Play domino. Let the chain reaction amaze the children. We use Jenga blocks.
40) Read newspaper together. Kids like pictures and cartoons.
41) Make facial expressions. Sad, happy, angry, neutral. Ask your child to guess the feelings based on expressions.
42) Origami or paper folding. Origami helps kids to learn sequencing, concentration, and attain great sense of achievement. Try these projects.
43) Art with sponge. Cut sponge into different shapes. Put color onto them and stamp on a piece of drawing paper to form interesting patterns. Voila another artpiece for your fridge.
44) Go to a pet shop.
45) Play horsey.
46) Bicycle movement. Lie down on your back together with your kids. Your legs in the air and feet touching each other. Make pedal movement.
47) Play with balloons.
48) Wash car together.
49) Make a card for their teacher.
50) When shopping, ask your kids to help locate things you want to buy.
51) While on the move, ask your kids to read out the plate number of a car next to you.
52) Bring your kids to a clay modeling class.
53) Go to an orchard.
54) Bring your kids to a museum.
55) Make animal sounds and let your kids guess.
56) Make handprints and footprints of your kids.
57) Make a necklace or bracelet by cutting a straw into smaller pieces. And string them together with a string.
58) Mix different buttons/beans together and ask your kids to sort by shapes/colors. Adult supervision is required for younger children.
59) Record your child singing and play back. First step to stardom.
60) Play sink or float. Ask your child to pick small water-proofed objects from his toy box, light and heavy. Place one object after another into a container full of water. Watch them as they float or sink.
61) Cut a cereal box into pieces and custom make a puzzle.
62) Tearing up paper from magazine, newspaper or brochure. Try different speed. My daughter asked for more when we did this the last time.
63) Watch rain and teach your kids about nature.
64) Teach your kids about body parts using a picture or take an online quiz.
65) Communicate with your toddlers about his likes and dislikes (food, toys, animals, etc). Take turns to share yours as well.
66) Teach your kids how to tell time.
67) Explain to your kids how money works when you buy something.
68) Dress up stuffed animals or favorite cartoon characters.
69) Ask your toddler to go around the house and get things of certain color: green, red, blue.
70) Use a paper plate to make a mask by cutting out the eyes and nose. Draw features as you wish. Use a string or rubber band to tie around your child’s head.
Of course the list is not finite. But it’s a good place to start. Some activities you can do it after work. Some need more time, you have to do it on weekends.
(See also: Toddler games that teach kids about science and nature)
If you’re looking for more activity ideas, check out Rookie Moms. It’s updated with new activities regularly.