Play helps young children learn and experience the world, both at the same time.
Research in Early Childhood shows that when children are left alone (without any gadgets or devices), they get involved in Functional, Constructive or Pretend Play. Functional play involves repetitive muscular movement which helps improve gross motor skills, Constructive play involves children using objects or materials to make something and Pretend play (aka. Fantasy play/ dramatic play) involves imaginary people or situation which helps a child develop an understanding of other people’s viewpoints.
One of the best ways you can keep toddlers engaged and interested is by giving them the ability to make and create. Clay can be moulded into different shapes and is the a great way to improve a child's fine motor and cognitive skills. One of the keys facts about this kind of play is that it eliminates the aspect of failure. Clay is inexpensive and can last long if stored properly (preferably in air tight containers). DYK: Earth Clay is most effective when children use their hands freely.
Painting provides an excellent sensory experience for children and is also a great medium of expression as it forces them to express how they perceive and understand their world to be. Adding different materials such as glitter or sand can take your child’s imagination on a whole new level. Tip: Roll on deodorant bottles with removable balls can be used to paint. Just fill the container with paint and let your child roll on the paint.
3. Water-based play
Water has a therapeutic and soothing effect on a child. It also endorses action as well as props do. Bubble baths are a fun fantastic way to let your child engage in sensory and pretend play. You could let children bathe dolls or wash toy cars, or in summer have a hose running in the sand area.
4. Reading story books
Books not only helps increase a child’s vocabulary but also increases a child's memory retention capability and strengthens a child's sub-conscious mind enabling the child to think better. You could give children a book with pictures meant for colouring, this doubles up as a colouring book as well as a story book.
5. Solving puzzles
You used them, your parents used them and your children are using them now. Puzzles help children build their physical, cognitive and emotional skills, and these three basic skills are the building blocks for a well rounded person. Give children the opportunity to continue learning from simple shapes, to silhouettes, to jigsaw puzzles, to abstract shapes united by a mathematical concept that include a board game twist.