The first year of your baby’s life features incredible growth. Your baby starts completely helpless, and by his or her first birthday, has started to develop independence in thinking and movement. How can you help you child make progress on all of the things they should learn in that first year? With some fun games, you can spend quality time with your baby and have fun, all while helping your baby reach major milestones.
1. Game: POP THE BUBBLES
What You Will Need: Bubble makers and bubbles
How to Play: Begin by showing your child how you blow bubbles. Then encourage the child to pop the bubbles. You’ll see your child track the bubbles with their eyes and enjoy watching them pop. You can do this inside or outside, depending on the season. After a few times, teach the child to blow. This helps the baby develop important motor skills. You can also sing a silly song.
Skills Learned: Cause and effect, visual tracking
2. Game: BLOCK BOX
What You Will Need: shoebox with lid, wooden blocks (square, cylinder, triangle, and rectangle), marker, and scissors
How to Play: You can begin preparing your child for math skills even before the child is 1 year old. Playing with shapes is one way to incorporate many skills. Start by placing each block on top of the shoebox lid. Then trace and cut around the outline of the shapes. After placing the lid on the box, you both will have fun poking the shapes through the holes. You can open the lid and take the shapes in and out and maneuver the blocks. You child can gradually learn to explore the box. After playing for a while, your child will figure out which shapes fit which openings all on their own.
Skills Learned: Eye-hand Coordination, matching, size and shape discrimination, visual discrimination
3. Game: SHAPE SPY
What You Will Need: cardboard and scissors
How to Play: In order for your baby to learn to read, they must begin to be able to discriminate between different visuals. With this game, you begin by cutting shapes such as triangle, circle, square, and rectangle out of the cardboard. Show your child how to trace each object and shape with their finger. Next start looking around the house for each shape, pointing out objects that match the shapes. When you are teaching about a rectangle, point to the television, end table and picture frames, for example. Touch is an important part of the process, so encourage your child to feel the shapes with their hands.
Skills Learned: Matching and visual discrimination
4. Game: HEAD TO TOES
What You Will Need: Stickers
How to Play: Learning about one’s body is an important part of child development. You can help your child’s body and spatial awareness by using this game to identify body parts. Use colorful stickers ad place them on your body parts, like on your foot, on your nose, on your shoulder and on your ears. Then put stickers on the same parts of your child. Stand up and sing the classic children’s song “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” as you touch the corresponding stickers.
You can change the game up by putting dots on the body parts with nontoxic felt-tip pens rather than stickers. Add other parts to the song: arms, legs, chest, neck, hands, feet, and back.
Skills Learned: Body awareness, language development, and visual discrimination
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