Since the cellular technology revolution, a lot of gadgets have evolved. From simple analog phones that can only be used for calls, now we have smart phones that provide mobile entertainment. These smartphones and tablets, with the right programs and applications, can help boost the cognitive development of growing children.
However, recent research showed that too much screen time could be detrimental to children’s development. It becomes more dangerous when these little kids are left with the screens without supervision.
Leaving little kids with screens as distractions may seem to free up and give the caregiver some time. However, in the long run, kids that are exposed with too much screens may make less and less active which can lead to other health conditions.
This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that toddlers and school-age children have limited access to screens and other forms of electronic entertainment daily. According to them, school-age children should be limited to two hours while toddlers should only spend an hour with electronic devices and screens.
Now, what do we do to entertain kids while helping develop their social and cognitive skills? Well, you may want to ask your granddad what sort of activities they did when they were little!
Here are some recommended activities for kids that helps in the motor and brain development of growing kids. I know it would take some preparations, but it will surely be fun!
Best Healthy Activities for Kids to Try
Let’s start with the healthy activities that you can prepare for toddlers. We will also look at some play kits that you can prepare for them. You will be surprised that some of the materials you would need can be readily found in your kitchen!
For parents and caregivers, these activities may look like simple games. But for your toddlers, these games are not only fun, but it also helps them develop some skills!
Try some of these activities and have fun with your toddler.
1. Sensory Box (recommended for children at least 12 months and above)
As the name suggests, this activity involves using the senses. A sensory box helps develop tactile skills and improve fine motor development. It’s not hard to prepare, and you can use any object you want and place it inside the sensory box. So, here are the stuff you need to prepare and how it works.
a. A shoe box. Make sure it’s clean and dust free.
b. A piece of fabric that would cover the entire opening of the box.
c. Hot glue would help you fasten the fabric covering the opening of the box.
d. Pairs of small toys and other objects. Make sure they are not too small to avoid the risk of choking. You can use dominoes, cubes, golf balls, tomatoes, toy blocks, clothespin, crayons, and the likes. Make sure that there are two of each item.
a. Clean the shoebox and wipe the surface with a damp cloth to pick up dust and other potential allergens. You can use other boxes if you like.
b. Next, cover the box with a sheet of fabric.
c. Cut a three-inch slit on the fabric. That’s just enough to fit your toddle’s hand and fish items inside.
d. Take a picture of the items you intend to put inside on a clean background and have it printed.
e. Place the toys and other objects you have prepared inside the box.
a. Point which item you want your toddler to take out from the box from.
b. Have your toddler insert his hands through the slit and locate the object without peeking inside.
c. Give your toddler a praise when he successfully locates the item.
d. Ask your toddler to fish the other pair inside the box.
e. Again, when successful, give your toddler a praise.
This game helps your child develop fine motor skills by fishing the objects inside the box. Also, while learning motor skills, your child also learns about shape and size differentiation. With the visual cue from the pictures, your child also learns visual recognition while playing. Critical thinking is also involved in searching the right piece and the other pair of toy.
This game may seem simple, but with enough toys and objects, this would translate to hours of fun!
You may also want to try the sensory bin activities shown in this video:
2. Ball Kicks (recommended for children 18 months and above)
This is a simple game that needs guidance and instructions from the parent or the caregiver for it to be more fun. This game intends to improve your child’s gross motor skill while having fun. This game is not recommended for toddlers who just started walking.
a. Paper cups or plastic cups. Plastic pylons would be nice, but cups would do fine.
b. A ball that’s just the right size for your toddler.
a. You can color the cups or number the cups to help guide your toddler while playing.
a. Arrange the cups in a semi-circle with the numbers facing your child.
b. Have your child positioned about three feet in front of the cups.
c. Ask your child to kick the ball towards the cup.
d. To make things more fun, call the number or color of cups you want them to hit.
The gross motor skills are highly improved by this simple game. Make sure that you encourage your child while playing as they might stumble on the first few kicks. Move the target closer if your child can’t hit the cups. Playing ball kicks will strengthen the legs and improve your child’s balance.
3. Coloring Books (recommended for children 18 months and above)
Coloring books are classic activity kits that would keep your children entertained and your walls clean (if you know what I mean!). This game is a lot of fun and helps children learn colors. While learning the colors, this activity also helps develop fine motor skills on the hands and improve concentration. It’s best to provide a pattern to help the child recognize which colors to use.
a. Coloring book. If you have a printer at home, you can find templates online and have them printed.
b. Non-toxic crayons.
a. Set-up your kid’s activity table.
b. Place the coloring book on the table and provide the crayons.
a. If your toddler hasn’t learned the colors yet, this is the perfect time to teach them about it.
b. Guide your toddler and point out which colors to use.
c. Have your child repeat what you say to reinforce learning.
d. Give praises as your child learns colors.
The coloring book is a simple activity that improves your child’s fine motor skill. This also improves hand and eye coordination and helps your child learn colors. As your child learns about the colors, let them do the activity without a pattern.
4. Puzzles (can be introduced as early as 18 months)
Puzzles are another classic kit that kids can enjoy. Starting at 18 months, you can introduce your toddler with puzzles. You may start with 4 pieces of puzzle initially and evaluate how well your kid is doing. At age 2, children can accomplish up to twelve pieces of the puzzle. At age 3, you can give your child up to 50piece of puzzle.
Puzzles are great toys that help develop hand-eye coordination and critical thinking. With your assistance, building puzzles are fun!
a. Age appropriate puzzles.
a. Set-up your child’s activity table.
b. Lay down the piece of puzzle in random.
a. When first introducing your toddler to puzzles, make sure that you guide them step by step to avoid frustration.
b. Only give them the recommended number of pieces that can be easily managed according to age.
c. Encourage your child while playing and don’t forget to give praises.
Take note the number of puzzle pieces you give your child. Too many puzzle pieces can be overwhelming and intimidating. Make sure that you guide your child while doing puzzles and don’t forget to gradually increase the difficulty.
In addition to these activities, you also need to find ways on how to encourage your child to eat healthy!
There are a variety of activities that can be done on screens. Even the conventional games have versions for your tablet and smartphones! But do take note that there are games and activities that are best done in the conventional way.
Activities with your kid promote fine and gross motor development as well as increase the bond between the kid and the caregiver. It may be convenient to leave children in front of screens, but, it may not be the best method of learning skills. Often, gross and fine motor skills are neglected since physical movements are very limited in front of a screen.
I know sometimes we get too busy. But The games listed above won’t take much preparation time and would improve your bond with your kid. Now, don’t hesitate to try them! I’m sure you, too, will have a lot of fun preparing and playing with your toddler!