Play is important for optimal child development as it helps in contributing towards the cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of children. It also provides an ideal opportunity for parents and caregivers to engage fully with children using toys as an instrument of play and interaction. Usually, the best toys are those that match children’s developmental skills and abilities and further encourage the development of new skills.
Following are some of the examples of simple toys for pre-schoolers and how to engage them in playing with these toys.
Don’t let your child play alone without supervision and be careful while selecting the toys and refrain from using ones with sharp ends to prevent your child from getting hurt.
- Let your child kick, roll, throw or bounce balls to you.
- Keep a large basket in the middle of the floor. Show your child how to drop or toss the ball into the basket.
- You can organise different games where your child, along with you/ sibling/ friends, can play together in teams using the ball.
- Children increase their control in handling the ball.
- They engage in communications with caregivers and/or other children.
- They can self-direct physical activities and have fun with the balls.
- Let children practice and enjoy the shape-sorter on their own.
- Organise two teams between your child and you/ sibling/ friends and ask to insert the shapes into the basket one by one as quickly as possible.
- Place all the shapes on the floor, name the shapes and ask children to show you where the circles are, where the triangles are. If they fumble to find them, show them and ask them again to find.
- Organise two teams and ask children to complete a necklace with one colour as quickly as possible.
- Children develop fine motor skills by creating necklaces, bracelets, etc.
- Adult supervision is important when beads/ small objects are used during play.
- Have a group of children, use the hand puppets to help you tell a familiar story.
- Wear a puppet on your hand and give children a puppet to hold.
- Children wearing puppets will be a part of the story.
- Start telling the story.
- When the turn comes for a child’s puppet to say something, help them if needed.
- Children interact with each other and share stories, developing their imagination and expressing their feelings.
- They also talk to their puppets and learn how to take care of them.
- Ask children to use blocks and build a house, bridge or any other construction.
- Children try and learn to build more complicated shapes and figures.
- They get a better understanding of size and shape and what happens when they add too many blocks.
- Let children create shapes and figures.
- Encourage them to experiment with combining natural items and clay.
- Let them make individual constructions with the clay.
- Emphasise the process, not the product.
- Healey A, Mendelsohn A, AAP COUNCIL ON EARLY CHILDHOOD. Selecting Appropriate Toys for Young Children in the Digital Era. Pediatrics. 2019;143(1):e20183348.
- Early Child Development Kit: A Treasure Box of Activities[Internet]. Available at: https://www.unicef.org/earlychildhood/files/Activity_Guide.pdf. Accessed on Mar 5, 2020.