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Games to play with toddlers and preschoolers

Although the weather may be inclement and the light still fading by 4 o'clock, try some of these games with your toddler or preschooler to channel some of their natural energy.


There is nothing quite as magical as watching bubbles floating off. Your toddler will love chasing, catching and popping bubbles as they dance about the room.   And they'll love helping you make their own bubble mixture. Simply mix together one cup of water, a tablespoon of glycerine and two tablespoons of fairy liquid. If you collect together different sized wands you’ll be able to introduce the Bubblesconcepts of big and small. Encourage your toddler to crawl or toddler after them, and then they can have a go at dipping the wand in the mixture and having a blow.

For preschool children you can take them outside and explain how the wind carries them off, and suggest they try to catch them.


Creating a miniature homeBox games

For many babies and toddlers the excitement of a brown box makes you wonder whether the gift inside was really necessary.  They love the different shaped packaging and wrapping papers. So tape together some of the larger boxes/cartons with masking tape, creating a network of rooms, tunnels and entrances. You can then cut window flaps and have fun “decorating” the house, creating a collage with the cast off wrapping paper and a stick of Pritt. This also becomes a great refuge for games like hide and seek.

Ball gamesBall games

Start by blowing up a medium sized beach ball (keeping it underinflated so smaller hands and get hold of it). Begin by sitting on the floor and showing your child how to spread his legs so the ball will roll into his legs. Gradually they will build up the hand/eye coordination and start to reach out to “catch” the ball.

For preschoolers you can try rolling, catching and throwing the ball to each other, introducing the concept of each player being a number, and then shouting out the number and the action before throwing the ball. “Rolling to Number One”.


Musical statues

This family favourite keeps toddlers on their toes with the “surprise” of the music stopping and all the dancers freezing. If you don’t have access to music, you can always combine it with one of the adults singing “Head, shoulders, Knees...” and encouraging your toddler to touch each part of their body. Expand their vocabulary by introducing “elbow or ankle” into the song. This game is great for preschoolers who will enjoy having to remember to freeze when the music stops.


Building towers

Your toddler will have endless fun building towers out of the classic children’s blocks. As you place each block on top, counting 1, 2, 3 and then when they get to the last one, they can have fun knocking them down and starting again. For preschoolers try a game such as Jenga or Number tower, where you throw a dice to build the tower, then trying to take blocks out without the whole structure crashing down. 


Circle GamesCircle games

Preschoolers love to play circle games with other children and the perennial favourite still seems to be Duck, Duck, Goose. To play, children sit facing each other in a circle. One is chosen as the goose, who walks around the outside of the circle tapping each child on the head, saying Duck each time. When they are ready they tap one player and say Goose, and that child then chases the other one round the outside of the circle trying to catch them.  If the first child gets back to the empty space and sits down before being caught, the new child is the goose.

Preschoolers also love playing “Sausage”, which is a game where you try not to laugh.   Players stand in a circle around one in the middle.  Each person asks a question to which the only answer can be “sausage”. What colour is your hair? “sausage”.  The person who makes the child in the middle laugh gets to go in the middle next. For the more lavatorial families, who are extra skilled at being straight-faced, you can try this variation. “Would you like a cup of tea?” answer: “I’m so sorry, it makes me fart”.

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