Toddlers can be quite a handful, as they are at a stage where they are learning new things and having new experiences every single day. Children in this age group are stimulated by the world around them and are eager to try new activities.
That is why it is the best time to take them outdoors and teach them games that they can play in the green environs outside the house. According to the UK-based Infant and Toddler Forum (www.infantandtoddlerforum.org), toddlers should get at least three hours of physical activity every day.
Since they are able to jump, hop, climb on a climbing frame and kick a ball at 2-3 years of age, it is a good idea to design games for them that involve these skills. Moreover, toddlers are usually comfortable exploring by themselves and while they may play alongside other children, they have still not learnt to play ‘with’ other kids. Parents need to remember that kids playing outdoors need adult supervision.
Here are some unique and fun games that your toddler can play outdoors --
1. Garden Treasure Hunt
This game can be played in your garden/ backyard or any small neighbourhood park. Take some coloured cardboard pieces and fashion out different things out of it -- fish and animal shapes, flowers and so on. Make no more than five pieces or your child may get tired. These should be big enough for them to look for and identify. Hide these in various corners of the garden and tell your little one to look for them. Since they are learning to retrieve things, this game would be a good game for this age group.
2. Toss the ball
Get a softball or a light plastic one, which is not too big and play catch. It is a simple game but it will keep your toddler busy for a long time. Point out particular spots in the garden or a safe place outside your house and each time, ask her to throw at that spot. Alternatively, you can make some holes in the mud, mark them with coloured flags and ask your child to throw a ball of the matching hue into the right hole. This is a great way to teach her about colours.
3. Blow some bubbles
Who doesn’t love this activity? Sometimes, even adults can’t resist getting out and having fun with bubbles. Toddlers are delighted not only to play this blowing game but get also get excited about touching the soapy water and catching the bubbles. You can make your own soap solution by creating a mixture of water, liquid dish wash and a little glycerin. This will be safe for your toddler to use and it will also be a perfect way to have fun outside.
4. Name the alphabet
This is an innovative game to expand your little one’s vocabulary, while also having loads of fun. Go to the backyard or to a park/sidewalk near your house and encourage your child to walk around, while identifying different things present there. Ask her to name the alphabet or sound with which the name of that particular object begins. For example -- for a bench, she should say ‘b’ and tree should be ‘t’. In this way, your toddler learns alphabets and phonetic sounds.
For toddlers, every activity that they do is a learning opportunity. It is important for parents to make the most of this time so that children learn new things playfully. Just make sure you are around to supervise them.