Games can be a great way for teaching skills to toddlers. While they develop hand-eye coordination they can also learn about taking turns, fair play and other social behaviors. (Though it is important to keep in mind that most toddlers prefer solitary play or playing alongside another child without actually engaging with that child.) Educational games can also help them develop better visual perception and help them hone their fine motor skills. The bottom line is that while your toddler only thinks they are having fun; if they have the right toys they are developing better skills for the elementary school years that are just ahead. Here are some great educational games for toddlers-
- Magnetic puzzle games-These board games are designed with magnetic pieces that are “towed” along usually by hand or by a special magnetic wand. Kids can enjoy playing these games themselves or take turns with another child to get all of the pieces (trucks and cars along the highway, animals in the barn etc.) to the designated spot. Another version of this is a magnetic board and net that allows the toddler to “catch” the bugs. Your child can have fun and learn a little about bugs all at the same time.
- Mazes-This is another version of a magnetic puzzle game but the toddler must tow the magnetized item through the maze. While some toddlers are ready to do this others may find this type of game frustrating. If that happens pull the toy and reintroduce it to your toddler in a few months since they may have more maturity and patience to play with a maze game then.
- Hide and Seek-A new version of hide and seek has toddlers hiding small objects behind the doors on a magnetized board. Then they open the doors to find the hidden objects. Hide and seek is actually a reasoning skill that figures into reading. Teaching your child to hide and seek objects can help prepare them for reading. In addition many older toddlers like to be in charge so let your child hide an object behind a door to surprise you. This game is widely available at most toy stores.
- Board games-Today there has never been a wider selection of board games available for every age group. This is even true for toddlers. Many classic board games have been simplified for the preschool set along with many games that have been specifically designed for the youngest game players. It is important to keep in mind that the best games have few pieces (which should be large) simple directions and brightly colored boards. Keep in mind that most toddlers have very short attention spans so games should not be long or complicated.
- Computer games and video sets-There is a wide array of computer games that are available for toddlers. These games usually only require the simplest of computer maneuvers so most toddlers can do them. In addition many video game sets are now being designed for toddlers to use. Best of all the games are all educational. The consoles are easy to use and most have a large mouse with only two maneuvers. While your toddler may balk at other activities most love the idea of playing video games and you do not have to let them know that they are learning at the same time.
- Computers-Even toddlers can be introduced to the computer world with a terrific toy laptop! These toddler laptops are perfectly sized for the little hands and come with so many fun educational activities that your child will want to play with it again and again. Most toddler laptop features a “keyboard” with the buttons shaped as animals, basic shapes, musical instruments, vehicles, and numbers 1-3. When your child presses each button the blinking lights and corresponding sound will be generated. A realistic laptop mouse is included for playing matching games.
Four to six-year olds are learning to take turns.