Clare Stead, founder of Oliiki - an app designed to help parents find the learning in everyday play to help their bump or baby reach their full potential – takes us through the development and play/learning opportunities at each age stage
- Babies really enjoy exploring textures at this stage, so toys that have different textures, within textures are brilliant.
- Playing with puppets will help this early stage with language development, communication and their social and emotional development.
- Use soft cushions or toys to build things for baby to crawl over and under and around to develop gross motor control and risk assessment. It will also be developing their understanding of where they are in space and their confidence in their own body.
- Babies at this stage want to use their thumb and first finger to make a pincer grip. Give them things that are easy to pick up and show them how to put things into a container.
- Babies are developing their object permanence at this stage - understanding that when something is out of view it hasn't actually gone completely. Games that take advantage of this are lots of fun.
- Simple puzzles with easy-to-hold handles are also fabulous at this stage
- At this age they love to pick things up and put them in to containers, helping to develop hand muscles, hand-eye coordination, focus and concentration.
- Musical instruments are so much fun now. Babies will be coordinated enough to really begin to play with shakers, and all sorts of different instruments.
- Help to develop fine motor control with toys that encourage them to put shapes on a stick or lids on boxes.
- Toddlers love putting things in and taking things out and having a chat about them. Toys that encourage chat are great for this activity.
- They will enjoy exploring mark making with a variety of pens, pencils, crayons and paints.
- They also love make-believe and copying you around the home.
- At this stage toddlers will love threading games, which is great for fine motor control, but also makes a great mathematical activity if you use the things that you are threading for shape and colour sorting.
- Exploring sand play is lots of fun at this stage.
- Outside play is fun too. What about setting up a gardening station or creating an outside cooking space and using mud, water and flowers to make cakes? Balance bikes and mini ride on toys help develop balance and special awareness.
- Imagination is really developing at this stage. Pre-schoolers will love make-believe games. Games with dressing up are an excellent way to practice getting dressed and undressed independently – helping fine motor skills.
- Craft that involves cutting, sticking, sorting and making is fabulous fun.
- At this stage, words, letters and books are really fun. These should all have been part of the play from birth, but by now, children should be exploring books and words for themselves.
- Playing with dolls, teddies or toys and letting children explore and independent play lets them learn about cause and effect through their play.
- Cars, trains, things with wheels are top hits at this stage. Toys where things can be put in and pushed around are a favourite. Children are deep into real world play at this stage and are happy to spend a lot of time playing farms or trains etc.
- They also love make-believe play. Children at this stage are really developing their social skills and seek out the company of others to play with.
- Kids at this age will love exploring all things physical outside. They will love playing on trampolines, climbing frames, bikes and trikes. They will enjoy gardening and pottering about. This is so good for giving your child the exercise they need as well as getting them off screens and out into the natural world, which is fabulous for children's wellbeing.
- Kids will get a real kick out of making something scrummy to eat. They will love working alongside parents learning these real-life skills. Cooking is also a great way to put reading, language skills and maths knowledge and language into a real-life setting.
- Children at this stage also love challenges. This helps develop a competitive streak but also help them develop the ability to win and lose.