Kids love to search for hidden objects. Use these games to inspire learning and to spark your baby’s natural curiosity.
1. Name of game: Look Everywhere, Favorite-Toy, Pint-Size Scavenger Hunt
Best for: Babies and toddlers
Where to play: The kitchen, baby’s bedroom, playroom
Duration: 2 to 3 minutes
You need: A flat surface—such as baby’s mattress, floor, or high-chair table top—all cleared of distractions; two or three baby toys—say, a bubble wand, a small ball, a rubber ducky
What to do next: Hide one toy at a time, in plain sight—partly obscured by baby’s bottle at lunchtime, or next to the bookshelf in the nursery. Then ask your Nancy Drew to find items as you name them. Cheer her on with phrases such as “I think you’re getting warmer.” Applaud her efforts when she’s finished.
What baby learns: Object permanence, things have names,patience, and perseverance
Tips: Be sure your use your cutie’s favorite toys; don’t make things difficult. Also, stop the hunt if she feels frustrated, and never leave your baby unattended.
2. Name of game: Teddy Bear and Elephant Safari
Best for: Babies who crawl or walk
Where to play: Baby’s room or your family room
Duration: About 5 minutes
You need: A small pail or reusable shopping bag; small teddy bears, elephants, or other favorite stuffed animals
What to do next: Hide the teddy bears and other cuddly objects. Perch them on chairs or hide them in plain sight under the crib or sofa. Let one leg or arm stick out to make the hunt easier. Say “Go!” and encourage your baby to start searching. Once your child finds a bear or an elephant, start a conversation to boost his language, storytelling, and reasoning skills. Ask your cutie what his little animal friend was doing when he found it, or how he thinks his toy got there. Was the bear napping? Looking for food? Playing hide-and-seek with his buddies? Was he lonely—or happy?
What baby learns: Grit, fortitude, conversation skills, and object permanence.
Tip: Remember the number of stuffed animals you scattered around the house, and where you put them, so you can find all when the game is over.
3. Name of game: Shape and Color Detective
Best for: Tots who are beginning to recognize shapes and primary colors
Where to play: Kitchen or family-room floor, or playroom
Duration: 5 to 10 minutes; more if your child is interested
You need: A small pail or plastic bucket for your child to carry the objects; kid-safe squares, circles, and triangles in a variety of colors.
What to do: Sketch (or print out) a bunch of shapes, including circles, triangles, and squares, and place them on the floor or on a child-size table. Ask your tot to look for toys and other items around the house that resemble the sketched or cutout shapes and colors; be sure to follow your child on her adventure. To boost the challenge, circle the house again and help her look for more shapes in unexpected locations. Find a square jewelry box in a bedroom, an oval bin in the laundry room, or a rectangular shoe box in a closet.
What baby learns: The names of shapes and colors, and matching skills.
Tip: Point out shapes and colors everywhere you go—at the mall, in the car, in nature.
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