Who We Are | Friends and Supporters | You're Not Alone | We Recommend | My Child | Store

Search the Invest In Kids website.

Ages and Stages

What to expect and how you can help, as your child grows and develops.

Answers for Parents

Reliable information on a wide range of topics.


Thank You Scotia Capital for supporting this website.

Home >

Games to Play

This is list of games you can play with your child to enhance his development from birth to age five. Have fun!

Games to play from birth to six months

  • Making objects and people disappear and reappear, such as when you play Peek-a-boo, is sure to delight your baby. Try different variations.

  • Toys that make noise are fun for your little one. Being able to shake something and have an immediate response (noise) encourages your baby to experiment with objects.

  • Using your hands to "act out" games and verses will help your baby pay attention to the rhythm of the words. And as he gets older, he can imitate the actions. Some favourites are "Hickory, dickory, dock, the mouse ran up the clock," "Eensy, weensy spider," and "Here's a little teapot."

  • Rocking and bouncing games can encourage your baby to learn about music and rhythm and about her own body. They can be played on your lap and on the floor as your baby gets older. An example would be "Ride-a-horse" while you gently bounce her on your lap. She may want to stand up and bounce, too. Make sure your baby is enjoying the game - don't force it.

  • Objects with different textures are fun for your baby to feel, such as textured fabric or different types of paper, like corrugated cardboard - under your supervision, of course.

Games to play with your 6-to-18-month-old

  • Movement games, besides being fun, help your child feel like a separate person and also build strength and "motor" skills, like controlling movements, balance and rhythm. Such games could include "dancing" to music, follow-the-leader, riding toys, and so on.

  • Pretend games help develop imagination and also give your child a way to "test" what he is learning - such as when he uses a block as a phone to "talk" to someone. You can encourage pretend games by acting out stories and songs, even like "Row, row your boat," or by pretending to be a not-too-scary monster. Here's a hint: give your child a prop that gives him power over the monster.

  • Language games help your child's language skills develop when you chant, sing and act out songs and nursery rhymes. Perhaps bounce her on your lap while you sing the songs and play the games. Make animal or other familiar sounds and point to pictures of the same things. It will help her make connections.

Games to play from 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 years

  • Sorting objects into two containers by colour and shape is a good learning game.

  • How things feel is a game that lets your child discover more about touch and texture: put a variety of objects in a bag and have the child reach in and name them. They could be a brush, prickly rubber toy, sponge, sandpaper, velvet and so on.

  • Puzzles, such as ones with two or three large pieces, and playing with clay or play-doh encourage your child's eye-hand coordination, not to mention creativity. They also give him a sense of control, because he's making something.

  • Dress-up and pretend play is very important to your child's imagination and learning. Maybe you can set aside a special corner and leave a bunch of old clothes and accessories handy. Join in, too.

Games to play with your child when 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 years

  • Lots of opportunities for building (blocks, cardboard boxes), climbing, jumping, swinging, arts and crafts, pretend play, dancing... just keep them coming as your child gets older.

  • Making a family album with a difference is fun. Instead of just photos, have a page for each member of the family and include information (and pictures) about events, favourite activities, favourite foods and colours and whatever else your child thinks should be there.

  • Matching and naming pictures helps your child begin to think in more abstract ways. For instance, if you have a picture of an umbrella, she has to find another umbrella, but it will be in a different picture, a different setting, and so on. You can do this with colours, shapes, faces, feelings (happy, sad, angry expressions) and more.

Games to play from 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 years

  • Sharing feelings can be done in non-threatening "game" ways, such as: sharing likes and dislikes with your child; having your child tell all she can about herself; pausing in a story and asking your child how the person may be feeling. Chances are, you'll learn how your child is feeling about many things as you do these.

  • Concepts can be made understandable by talking about (and demonstrating) things like big and little, near and far, fast and slow, tall and short, soft and hard...

  • Making an extended-family album means that you include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and so on, and put in information about whose side of the family they're on, maps of where they live, etc. Instead of an album, you could make a poster, scrap book, or family tree.

  • Pretend play can be encouraged by having dress-up clothes, puppets, a large carton as a stage/pretend house/castle or whatever. You can make up stories together and play different characters. Try to let your child do most of the inventing.

  • Active play is important, especially for a child around four - they need opportunities to run, climb, gallop and jump. Play tag, roll in leaves, race... Outdoor time and just "getting the wiggles out" can be great for the whole family.

  • Concentration activities, like painting pictures, doing puzzles, making necklaces, printing letters and building with blocks, all help your child increase his attention span. And when you look at what your child is looking at, and share his interest, it increases his ability to concentrate.

  • Reading and story-telling continue to help language skills (and imagination). If your child is particularly interested in something, try to get books for her that relate to it.

Rate this Page

Related Content

    Related Resources


    We built this site for you. How are we doing?

    tell us

    Join Us
    Helpful tips and parenting news delivered right to your inbox.

    sign me up

    Mini Poll
    I want more quality time with my child(ren).

    I agree
    I disagree
    I am somewhere in between

    Help Us Help Kids
    Help Us Help Kids
    Donate Online
    Get Set for Life

    Your Child's First Five Years