Play is important for language development and imaginative thinking. Here are just a few examples of play activities.
Using the senses
Give your child experience of lots of different things to play with – many household objects are interesting for children.
Things to feel and look at – baby mirror, pieces of soft material, soft toys.
Things to hold, shake and bang – balls, rattles, bricks, bells, cotton reels and wooden spoons.
Tracking – Your child may learn to follow toys with their eyes – balloons, bubbles, finger puppets and puppets on a stick are interesting to watch.
Very young children tend to put items in their mouths to help them explore things – make sure you don’t use any small objects that could be dangerous if they put them in their mouth. Make sure you stay with your little one and watch them while they’re exploring objects to keep them safe.
Make sure all your items are cleaned regularly to make sure there are no nasty germs or bugs on them.
You may be doing some of these activities at home already and not realise that you’re already doing a great job of developing your child’s early play skills.
Here are some of our favourite ideas using items you may already have at home:
Bubbles – sit opposite your child and blow bubbles. Wait for eye contact or a vocalisation (a vocalisation is any sound they try and make) before your blow any more.
Coloured Feathers – blow feathers at your child and tickle them with the feathers. We can ask your child if they would like ‘more?’ or again? Wait for eye contact or a vocalisation before your blow any more.
Musical Blowers – blow musical party blowers so your child can watch them move and hear the noise they make. It’s important your child can see you doing the activity – we don’t want to startle them and make them ‘jump’!
Balloons – blow up balloons and let your child feel the air coming out.
Exploratory play baskets
Collect items such as spoons, plates, shiny paper, tissue paper, cellophane, news-paper, ribbons, bricks, headscarves, empty pots, etc. Put the material in boxes or drawstring bags and take one out at a time to explore. Crumple up bits of paper to make interesting noises. Bang things together and put them in and out of empty pots with lids on.
Hiding Games – wave a scarf up and down over your child so they can feel the breeze. Lift it high and let it fall over your head. Cover a toy with the scarf and encourage your child to pull it off.
Remember, don’t leave your child unattended with any items which could be a potential hazard.