(StatePoint) If you’re like many parents, you want to ensure that your little ones’ playtime gives them a chance to exercise both body and mind. Here are some fun ways to incorporate both into the equation.
• Outdoor fun: Outdoor fun can be had nearly any time of year. Carve out time each week for trips to the local playground or park and for short walks and scooter rides. The change of scenery will activate young minds naturally to explore the world around them.
• Movement through discovery: Seek out toys that inspire movement through the act of discovery. For example, Chase Me Casey, a monkey that skates, spins and wobbles across the floor, encourages children to dance and crawl after him. When your child gets close, Casey reacts with playful sounds and encouraging phrases. Five colorful shape buttons on the monkey’s shirt introduce letters, numbers, body parts, music and more.
• Music class: For young children, music class is a great way to connect mind and body, as kids are introduced to simple rhythms, dancing, singing and percussion instruments. If music class doesn’t fit into your family’s schedule, you can always get the jams going at home, introducing your child to an array of musical styles.
• Toys to grow with: From floor play to first steps, look for toys that will assist your child with this crucial transition. For example, the VTech Stroll & Discover Activity Walker, which grows with your child, is nicely suited for floor play as its removable activity panel is packed with features like light-up piano keys, spinning gears and shape sorter pieces to help develop fine motor skills. When kids are ready, you can attach the panel to an adjustable two-speed walker, so they can learn and discover while on-the-move.
• Imaginative play: Let kids create their own adventures using their imagination as a guide. Toys such as Starshine the Bright Lights Unicorn can add whimsy and adventure to active playtime. Place the seven charms on any of the three magic hearts to see the horn light up and hear colors, objects and phrases in English or Spanish. Use the charms to answer quiz questions or add sound effects to create your own special song. Squeeze the unicorn’s tail to see her wings flap and hear phrases and sound effects. Starshine’s majestic hooves feature wheels so kids can push her as they head off on their next adventure.
• Simon Says: “Simon Says” is a fun game to get kids moving while reinforcing vocabulary, from learning the names of different body parts to distinguishing sounds, such as “Simon Says cluck like a chicken.” This is a game that can progress with your child’s development. Start with the basics like, “Simon Says touch your nose.” As kids get more coordinated, try stuff like “Simon Says hop on one leg.”
Keeping kids active and engaged adds meaning to playtime and makes things more fun. With toys and activities, you can foster discovery and imagination while introducing movement to children.