Build skills with fun
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Shake shake shake

Skills built: fine motor and recognising rhythm
You need: Dry 500ml plastic bottles, beans or beads, glue and pictures or paint.
Make shakers and then use them to make music. Partially fill each bottle with the “filling”. Your toddler can help with this and develop her fine motor skills at the same time. Then, secure the top. You can decorate the outside of the bottle by sticking on pictures or drawing patterns. Now help her develop her sense of rhythm by using your shakers to “shake” out the beat of your favourite songs.

Food fun

Skills built: Creativity, trying new tastes
You need: Plastic plate to place mat, food.
Make pictures with food and then eat your creations. Use a plastic plate or a place mat as your “canvas” and get creative. Fruit faces are fun: blueberry eyes, orange segment nose and a banana smile. Vegetable houses can be made with carrot stick walls, cucumber stick roof and tomato windows. “Draw” mashed potato sheep in a field of peas with a broccoli tree top on a sausage trunk. Not only will drawing with food develop his creativity, you might even get a picky child to eat things he normally avoids.

Read all about it

Skills built: Language ability
You need: Thin card, pictures, glue
Make books and read them together. Fold the cardboard in half and staple the pages of your “book” along the fold. One piece of cardboard becomes four pages in your book, so start off small with two or three pieces of cardboard. Choose a title for your book: “My day”, “Clothes”, “Animals” or whatever interests your toddler. Look through old magazines with your toddler to choose pictures to stick in your book. This ongoing project develops her language ability and a love for books. If you are snap-happy, this is also a good way to organise photos. You could create books for “My birthday” or “My family” to enjoy again and again.  

Body art

Skills built: Tactile awareness and imagination
You need: Large pieces of paper, non-toxic finger paint
Make works of art using your bodies as the paint brushes. This is a great activity to do outside. Put one finger into the paint and encourage your toddler to do the same. Then paint with that finger. Move on to other fingers, hand prints, toes, foot prints, whichever body parts you like. This messy play develops his tactile awareness and imagination while you get to celebrate your inner child.

Building blocks

Skills learnt: Counting and sorting
You need: empty boxes, sticky tape, paint
Make blocks with your toddler and then build with them. Tape them shut and paint or cover them. Have fun building towers and knocking them down. You and your child can put all the big ones together or all the ones painted red – whatever categories you like. You can build a barn for plastic farm animals or a garage for toy cars to encourage fantasy play. These construction games develop important cognitive skills such as counting, sorting and classifying.

Have you any favourite tricks to build basic skills? Do your children enjoy games like this?

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