Toddlers want to have fun and the great thing is that you can pretty much make a game out of almost anything. The most important thing to remember is that toddlers do not need expensive games or toys to have fun. Good games are those that incorporate a little bit of learning with the fun. It is important to remember that learning should be fun and not forced.
You do not even need objects to play good games with toddlers. All young children love music so have fun dancing and singing with or without the radio or CD player. Nursery rhymes with actions and finger plays such as Incy Wincy Spider are a good starting point. I Spy is a great classic game and will help your toddler start to learn about words and the alphabet. Never put too much pressure on them, don’t scold for incorrect suggestions as you are trying to boost their confidence.
Toddlers have great imaginations – a cardboard box can be many things to a young child: a castle, house, shop, boat, car, train or plane. Guessing games are another fun activity. Start drawing a simple object (use a sketch board to save paper) and have your toddler guess what you are drawing. Fill a cloth bag with objects and have your toddler try to guess what they are by touch alone. Improve their memories by having objects on a tray or table, cover with a cloth after a minute and see how many they can remember. Try taking one object away and see if they can tell you what is missing.
Have fun outdoors with bubbles, see if your toddler can catch them and let them try themselves. A plastic fly-swat makes a great lightweight bat for hitting balloons. You can have lots of fun with balloons! Make playdough (lots of recipes online) and get creative. Jigsaws are another firm favourite with toddlers, not too difficult or too many pieces or they will get frustrated and bored. You could even make your own puzzles by cutting up old birthday or Christmas cards or a picture of their favourite cartoon character. Help your toddler learn colours by encouraging them to collect objects from around the house that are red, blue or green. Use paper plates to make masks and have fun pretending to be animals or pirates or whatever else you draw on them.
Board games are ever popular, there are literally hundreds to choose from but the classics will always be around such as snakes and ladders and home. Games teach children colours, counting and about taking turns. Play sink or float with different objects as an early science lesson. Make or buy a kite and have fun on a windy day.
There are so many good games you can play with toddlers, have fun coming up with some ideas of your own.