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An educator shares five games to keep little ones entertained at home

February 07, 2021

Every day at child care, your little one is learning through play. Much of the fun that they have playing games with their educators is based on simple activities that you can easily replicate at home

Today we’ve got some advice on why playing games is so beneficial, as well as some of the most popular games that you can enjoy with your child at home. This advice comes from an educator with more than twenty years of experience in child care (as well as being a mother of three).

Plus we’ve got a wonderful tip for parents to use when they’re struggling to find the time to play with their children at home (because that dinner is not going to cook itself).

What are the benefits of playing games with your child?

Playing games strengthens the relationship bond between the child and the adult. Playing shows a child that you are interested in them; it tells them that they are fun to play with; and makes them feel valued in that you want to spend your time with them. 

Games themselves promote social skills in children; where they learn about turn taking, understanding rules, and following instructions. They learn about managing the feelings of winning and losing. It also strengthens their language skills, vocabulary, numeracy skills, everything!

What are 5 popular games from child care that parents can try at home?

Your child’s educators are well versed in playing games, they do it every day! There are some games that never go out of style, and the best thing is that you don’t need any special equipment to join in.

1. Crocodile Crocodile

One child is chosen to be the crocodile, while the others line up on the other side of the ‘river’ facing them. The others say ‘Crocodile Crocodile can we cross the river? If not, why not, what’s your favourite colour?’ The crocodile chooses a colour, and anyone wearing that colour can cross safely. The others have to make a run for it and try not to get caught.

2. Red Light Green Light

One child is chosen to be the traffic light and stands with their back to everyone else on one side of the room or garden. The child says ‘green light’ and everyone can start moving towards them, until they turn around to face everyone and say ‘red light’ and everyone has to freeze in place.  Anyone seen moving has to go back to the start.  Keep playing until eventually someone tags the child that is in. Have some fun by saying ‘orange light’ and everyone has to move in slow motion.

3. What’s the Time Mr Wolf?

The classic party game is great anytime. One child is chosen to be the wolf and they stand with their back facing the others on the other end of the room or garden. The others ask ‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf?’ and the wolf turns to face the others and says a number from 1-12 which tells the others how many steps they can take. The wolf then turns back and the children ask again ‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf?’ The game ends when one of the children reach the wolf and tap them on the back - they become the new wolf. 

4. Simon Says

One child is chosen to be Simon and faces the group. They give instructions such as ‘Simon Says stand on one leg’ or ‘Simon Says clap your hands’. The child tries to trick the group by giving the instruction without saying ‘Simon Says’ first - anyone who does the action becomes the new Simon.

5. One Little Monkey

This is a fun song with actions that children just love. An adult faces a child and sings ‘One little monkey swinging in a tree, teasing Mr Crocodile, you can’t catch me! Along comes Mr Crocodile, quiet as can be and SNAP went the crocodile!’ The adult makes a big crocodile mouth by opening and closing their arms as the child runs off before you can catch them. Listen to the song here.

How can I play a game with my child when I can’t think of one?

To be honest you can turn absolutely anything into a game, or even follow your child’s lead. For example, most children love to play hide and seek. It is a classic that involves counting, patience and following rules (for instance, we mustn’t go outside, and no peeking when counting!).

You can also just make up a game. For instance if your little one loves the book We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, you could make up a game about that. You could start off by saying ‘let’s put on our boots’ and everyone has to pretend to put on their boots. Then everyone has to put on their hat, pack their binoculars and water bottle, make a honey sandwich, (and anything else the kids think you’ll need). 

Then you can tiptoe around the garden looking for a bear, swishing through the grass, squelching through the mud, splashing through a river. Then if you say ‘what’s that noise?’ and make a noise like a lion everyone can shout ‘It’s a lion!’ and run away to hide. Then repeat with a different animal until finally you find the bear.  Often you’ll find these easy made up games are the ones that the children want to play again and again.

Your imagination (and your child’s of course) is the best tool for play. You can play anything or go anywhere with your imagination - go on a train journey, fly a plane, be a pirate. Anything goes!

How can I play at home when I just don’t have the time?

Sometimes it is hard to find the time, when you’re working from home, or cooking dinner, or tidying up. You can try and incorporate play into the task, for instance if you’re in the middle of hanging out the washing you can play ‘peek a boo’ behind the towels. 

Children also benefit from learning to occupy themselves. If they are finding this difficult use the language, ‘First this (washing up) then this (game).’

Learning to be patient is hard but if you are consistent with following through with ‘first this then this’ (meaning you remember to play the game once you’ve finished what you’re doing), then they learn to be patient and wait. 

If you need to find child care for your little one, let Toddle help. Simply enter your postcode in the search box at the top of the page to get started.

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Written by

Lee Price

Toddle is the most comprehensive child care finder in Australia, on a mission to make parents’ lives easier.