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5 Strategies for Playing with Your Toddler to Encourage Learning and Development

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 As parents, we want to make sure our toddlers are developing properly and engaging in activities that stimulate healthy development. While playtime is important for all children, it is especially important for toddlers. Through play, toddlers explore the world around them, learn about themselves, hone their motor skills, and develop important life skills such as communication, problem-solving, creativity, and collaboration. When planning activities for your toddler, it is important to keep in mind that not all play is created equal. Toys and pretend play are both important tools for fostering your toddler’s development.

Here are five strategies you can use when playing with toys and engaging in pretend play with your toddler:


1. Focus on open-ended play.

Toys that are open-ended, meaning they can be used in a variety of ways, are great for encouraging your toddler’s creativity and imagination. Examples include building blocks, dress-up clothes, and arts and crafts supplies.


2. Utilize dramatic play.

Dramatic play allows toddlers to explore and express their emotions in a safe and supportive environment. You can create a pretend play scenario or join in on one your toddler has created. Children will generally let you know what they want to play, think of it as improve, yes and... will get a long way!


3. Encourage problem solving.

Toys or activities that require problem-solving are great for developing your toddler’s cognitive skills. Puzzles, shape sorters, and stacking games are all great options.


4. Foster collaboration.

Toys that encourage collaboration, such as board games and construction sets, are great for developing your toddler’s social and communication skills.


5. Provide guidance.

As your toddler plays, provide guidance and support as needed. Ask questions, provide encouragement, and react to their actions. This will help your toddler feel secure and supported while they explore and learn.


By utilizing these five strategies when playing with toys and engaging in pretend play, you can help your toddler learn and grow in a fun and engaging way.

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Large motor sensory play helps children to develop their coordination and balance. Engaging in large motor activities also encourages creative thinking and problem-solving, as children must figure out how to use their bodies to interact with their environment.


Balance play helps children to develop their gross motor skills, coordination, and agility. It also promotes strength and flexibility in their muscles, which can help them to improve their posture and overall physical health.


Musical instruments

Playing musical instruments can help kids develop an appreciation for music, which can be beneficial for their overall emotional and mental well being and playing an instrument can also help kids increase their creativity, hand-eye coordination, and motor skills.


Counting play can help kids develop their math skills and improve their numerical fluency. Counting play can also help children develop their problem solving and critical thinking skills as they learn to identify patterns and apply logical reasoning.


Loose parts play provides children with an opportunity to use their imaginations, think creatively, and explore their environment in new ways. It also prompts  self-confidence, independence, and a sense of ownership.


Matching games can help young children develop their memory, problem-solving, and cognitive skills. Matching games can also be a fun way to teach kids about shapes, colors, and patterns, while also improving their focus and concentration.

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