Saturday, September 7, 2013

8 Back to Basic Interactive Games for Toddler

If you have been dining out recently, I believe you may have noticed that it is becoming so common that more and more parents are using iPad or smart phone to keep their little ones entertained during meal time. The little ones busy starring at the screen or playing games while the parent try to feed them. It is rather alarming how these gadgets had affected the way we interact with our kids. 

Firstly, I strongly believe to teach the little ones to self feed. It's the first step towards independency. I have seen a boy of 8 years old still need to be spoon fed, while his eyes were fixated at the screen. Unless the parents are prepared to be around to serve the kids till they reach adulthood, do train the young ones to self feed and does simple chores from young.

Secondly, while all these gadgets are super effective in keeping the little ones entertained and reframe them from disturbing the parents, do think about the long term effect. It's a one-way communication which does not encourage interaction, which is essential to help build social behavior and communication skill.  Same applies for TV program which is very much a one way communication too. Not to forget, starring at the screen at short distance for long hours may be a reason that lead to short-sighted vision.

Hence, whenever possible, I would choose to keep my little ones entertained on interactive plays and toys instead of offering them my smart phone.

Here are 8 activities that I often practiced with my little ones while we are waiting at restaurants or at home. Hope you find them helpful. 

1. Activity Books 
An ideal silent game, just let them play with sticker, spot the different, do matching or coloring. Books with colorful prints usually catch the little ones' attention.

I bought a few of these books during sales and when going out just grab one of them and chuck into my bag. Handy "kit"!

Can you spot the objects in the page?  

2. Spell the Word 
We received some wooden magnet alphabets as gift from a family friend and how my kiddos love the cute looking alphabets! While waiting for meals to be served, I challenged my little boy to spell a few words. Those without overlapping letters of course (since we only have single letter each :). I choose simple words such as dog, house, water, cake etc and only kept to 3-5 words per game before I loose his interest.

Ideal game for kindie going kids.

3. Car Racing
My duo's favorite. Pick a hot wheel each and we will have a race, on straight road, hill (use the menu!), bumpy road (use the napkin!) or cliff (use a bottle ;).

Just use a simple toy bag for the little one to carry the toy cars by themselves.

4. Memory Challenge
I usually bring along some small cards with me in my handbag, it keeps the my little girl entertained with a game of  naming the objects, or finding the matching cards.

For my elder one, I use the same sets of cards for memory game. With all cards closed, he is suppose to find the matching cards by recalling the last position. You can read more about the game here

I made a pouch so it is easy to sort them in separate pockets. This makes all the cards a lot easier to handle. :)

4. Riddle, Riddle Time
At times when I forgot to bring any toys with me, my little boy and I will play random riddle. How he loves this challenge. Either he answers my riddle   or he has to come out with one. Good mind teaser, just make sure you keep your riddle to the level that your little one can understand. :)

Some examples here:

It's round, it's big;
It's hard on the outside but soft on the inside;
It wears a green suit with red inside.
What fruit is it?

It's fury, it has 4 limbs, it loves to climb from tree to tree and banana is the favourite.
What animal is it?

6. Doodling, Drawing Fun
From 18 months onwards, I let my little one learn to hold a thick crayon and doodle on a large piece of paper. I opt for non-toxic, washable crayons so it is safe in case the little ones put the crayons into the mouth, and if they accidentally (or deliberately) draw on the table or floor, it can be easily wiped off.

All the doodling, drawing and writing will keep the little ones' hands busy. Here are some of the random arts we made together.

My little boy found so much fun in Spirographing.

Or simply a game of tic-tac-toe. With pen and paper, there is lots to create.
After I've learnt sewing, I made a mobile Art Pad for my little ones so we can doodle anytime, anywhere. It's another proud creation of Made by PH :)

7. Nursery Rhyme Time
Most young toddler loves to sing, my baby C included. She is so familiar with all the baby nursery rhymes hence having a small nursery rhyme book in my bag is handy to keep her entertained. Can be a little noisy at the restaurant if your little one has loud voice, but it helps to keep him or her sitting still.

Songs that allow hands or body movement is most ideal, such as Inchy Wincy Spider, Wheel on the Bus, Twinkle Little Star, Humpty Dumpty, Ten Little Indians etc. I bought a small bag-size book for traveling and keep a full size one at home for bedding reading, it's one of her favorite books.

8. Finger Puppets Show time
I keep a small pouch of finger puppets, some are ready made animals bought from IKEA, some are my handmade  figurines. Just play a random puppet show, eg little animals having a Waltz dance, friends day out, etc while waiting at the restaurant, imaginary play such as this helps to train little ones' speech and creativity. 

The puppet family

The IKEA finger puppets. 

Note: All the above suggested plays are for before / after meal time or while being idle. Once food is served we will keep all the toys aside so the little ones can concentrate on eating.

That's all, sharing from a mom of two who always crack her head on creative activities with her little ones. Hope you find this post useful and do share with me and the readers should your little one too have some favorite interactive games that does not requires a smart device. ;)

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  1. Great tips. Thanks!

  2. These are great ideas! We are also trying to steer clear of creating a little zombie toddler just to get a meal out so these will be super helpful.

    1. Cynthia, glad to hear that! So long we parents have that awareness we can surely achieve it. I will be having a post on suggestion for fun activities for traveling soon, something I called the fun bag. Watch out for the new post.

  3. Fabulous ideas! :))
    Thank you for these. The kids I teach (ballet) are a little older, but they still love pictures-then drawing them themselves-then showing them off to their parents. I especially love the felt finger puppets…. I may have to make them for my student's holiday gifts…!

    Have you seen the new how-to-draw for kids show on youtube? It's called Muffalo Potato. (I had my youngest student who's 3.5 yrs old try it too, and she did amazing!)
    Happy Autumn!

    1. Thanks Yumi, frequent puppet shows had trained up my boy to be more creative and no longer shy to present to the crowd in his school concert too. I just watched one episode of the Muffalo potato and love his creative drawing. Thanks for the suggestion, will certainly introduce it to my little 4.5yo who loved Art and craft. :)