Suitable for ages: 2 years and older
Equipment needed: some pebbles
Time: 2 minutes to set up, play will depend on the ages of the participants and how competitive they are!
At the beach, it’s good to have a few ideas for games up your sleeve, and this pebble target game has been good for us this summer.
Simply collect some pebbles, then draw a target in the sand, with a hole (bulls eye) in the middle.
Now, players stand away and, one by one, try to get a bulls eye, or as close as they can get.
You can allow younger ones to stand closer to make it a but fairer, and if you like, you can introduce a points system – make it as easy or as complicated as you like!
Age: as soon as your child can walk (aided)
Time: 2 minutes to 15 minutes
Equipment: an outdoor space with autumn leaves on the ground
Development: gross motor skills, walking, running , jumping, skipping, language and sounds, learning about seasons and change
Make your next autumn walk an adventure! Encourage your child to walk through the leaves, listening to the sounds they make under his feet – you can imitate the sounds together or name them. Depending on your child’s age and stage, he can then run, jump or skip through the leaves – each will provide a different sound and sensation.
Age: from around 18 months
Time: 5 minutes
Equipment needed: satsuma segments / slices of other fruit
Skills: matching pairs, recognising and making shapes, dexterity, counting
At snack time, you can take the opportunity to play with your food! Encourage your child to separate the satsuma segments, count them, then match them into pairs, make shapes or make butterflies. Ask your child to tell you what shapes you’re making together and how they change as you take parts away to eat.
Age: from 12 months (or younger if your child will keep their hand still)
Time: 2 minutes
Equipment: paper and crayons or coloured pencils
Development: fine motor sskills, names of body parts, comparing sizes, numeracy
This is such a simple thing, but toddlers seem to love it. Simply hold their hand palm down on the paper and draw around. You can count their fingers as you go, if you like.
When your child raises his hand and sees his hand shape, you can take the opportunity to name the fingers and hand, count again or colour it in.
It’s nice to sometimes draw around your own hand after, making their hand be inside yours. You can talk about big and small, and it’s a lovely (but very simple!) keepsake if you do it every few months and see his little hands grow.
Age: from around 20 months up to primary school
Time: 5-10 minutes
Equipment: paper, crayons, dry leaves
Development: numeracy (counting leaves), fine motor, drawing and creating
Take a trip out with your toddler or young child to the park, garden or anywhere you’re likely to find a selection of autumn leaves. It’s a nice opportunity to talk about the shapes and colours of the leaves and if they’re wet or dry.
Make sure the leaves are dry before starting the leaf rubbing or the effect isn’t as good and the wet leaves can stick to the paper.
Help your child to select some leaves and one by one, place them under the paper then rub over the top with a crayon. The effect of the shape of the leaf coming through happens quickly and can be really beautiful.
If your child enjoys it, you can experiment with different colours of crayons and paper, or you could cut the leaf shapes out to use for homemade cards or a sticking and glueing craft idea.
Age: around 18 – 24 months
Time: as little as 5 minutes, but could hold your child’s attention for much longer
Equipment: old rolls from toilet paper or kitchen roll, some tape
Development: helps develop your child’s imaginative play, playing side by side, and fine motor skills
1. Slot the smaller diameter rolls into the wider ones
2. Build a tower
3. Make binoculars or a telescope
4. Tape together some tubes to a slide for little cars or figures. Place it on top of a low table and show your child to watch as the cars slide out the bottom.
5. Roll the tubes along the ground (and let your child explore their reach under the table when the tubes inevitably roll under them!)
6. Set up 3 rolls on a low table. Hide a figure or little toy under 2 of them and let your child lift the tubes up to find them.
7. Hold a roll up to your mouth and talk through it – Let your child hear how it changes your voice.
8. Use the taped together slide as a “telephone tube” – hold it up to your child’s ear and (quietly) say their name or sing a song. Encourage your child to talk as you hold it to your ear.
These little games are good for a rainy day when you want to show your child something different but don’t want to spend any cash. If you have time, or an older toddler who likes craft activities, you could cover the tubes in old wrapping paper / magazine pages / stickers, to make the games more colourful. Just make sure that the rolls are all clean before playing with them! :
Age: from around 6 months (sitting unaided), but older toddlers and young children will get more out of the activity
Time: 10 minutes or longer
Equipment: plastic tubing cut in half (like a gutter) and something to prop one end of it up (eg: a brick / bucket), small padding pool / basin, plastic balls, watering can, water, and clothes your child can get wet
Development: allows your child to understand more about the properties of water, develop fine motor skills, and have fun splashing around with you!
If your child is old enough, you may want to involve them in the setting up stage. Prop the tube up so that a ball can be slid down it, then put the paddling pool or basin at the bottom.
Next, show your child how a ball can slide down the tube, let her try. Then pour water down together and see how this affects the balls in the paddling pool.
At this point there is a great opportunity for free play – you can sit back and let your child explore the chute and water pool you’ve set up.
If she starts to lose interest, you can show her how to roll multiple balls down the chute / roll them up / add more water, etc. Or try singing some songs about water or splashing.
PPlease remember not to leave your child unattended near water – this is an activity to enjoy together 🙂
Age: 18 months and older
Time: 5 minutes
Equipment: a hard boiled egg / satsuma (at least 2 of one or the other) , bowl or plate
Development: fine motor skills, learning about food and cooking, taking turns with you and asking for help
Encourage your child to watch you peel a satsuma or hard boiled egg, and get him involved by telling him what you’re doing, then gently pulling the skin or shell off.
With then second egg or satsuma, give it to your child to hold, move around and experience how it feels. This time, encourage your child to peel it himself, although you’ll probably have to start it off. Make sure you’re watching so he doesn’t try to eat any stray bits of eggshell or satsuma peel!
Age: Mega Bloks are suitable from 12 months plus, Duplo from 18 months
Time: 5 minutes to prepare, then hopefully your child will enjoy them during many play sessions
Equipment: some small stickers
Development: using building blocks helps your child develop fine motor skills and imaginative play , express their creativity, and helps them learn to concentrate on a specific task. If they’ve become a bit bored of their blocks, this might get them interested again.
Simply put small stickers on some of your child’s building blocks. You can either do this together as a little art project, or do it for your child as a surprise.
I chose In the night garden stickers, but you can go with whatever your child is currently interested in or what they tend to build and imagine with the blocks.
For example, if your child plays at farms you may be able to get little animal or vegetable stickers.