Two-year-olds love to imitate their parents. Play tools or kitchen
items, a toy phone or pretend computer will stimulate
elaborate pretend play. Children also like to help mom
and dad, so give them a broom or rake that's just their
size when they want to work alongside you. Pretend play
also blossoms during these years. A farm with animals,
toy cars and streets, and playing with dolls are great
ways for children to express their creativity. On the
artistic front, older toddlers and preschoolers are
ready to express their creative side through markers,
crayons and paper. Scribble drawings will soon progress
into recognizable pictures. Be sure to display these
on the refrigerator door. Active play becomes more daring
in the preschool years and children search for fun and
adventure. It's time to zoom around on a tricycle and
engage in more daring climbing and jumping play. As
your child's confidence and language skills grow, it
becomes easier to play cooperatively with family members.
Simple games will offer chances to teach patience, taking
turns, and counting. With advanced thinking skills,
preschoolers become interested in mechanical toys that
"do something". Fantasy play grows more complex
as children get older. Costume clothes, hats, capes,
vests and various props add details to a child's play
scenario. Artistic creations become more advanced with
clay, paint, scissors and glue the older the child gets.
Building with interlocking plastic or wooden blocks
continues to be a favorite activity, combining imagination
with thinking, planning, and advance hand coordination.
Preschoolers will begin to discover friendship and will
learn to play cooperatively with other kids their age.
Reading books takes on a whole new meaning as children
can now understand story lines and appreciate pictures
this time on, your child's more daring play will try your nerves.
Climbing, jumping and balancing skills all progress
faster than you perhaps would like. Riding toys become
faster and more daring. Safety is an issue, but allowing
exploration and trial and error is also important. A
child's abilities in sports and ball play will progress
and become more fun and challenging. Here are some ways
you can promote these gross motor skills through interactive
a safe play environment is important. A small indoor
play structure with a ladder and slide on soft carpet or padding
is just the thing for your older toddler to perfect
his climbing and balancing skills.
your child to explore and test his motor skills helps
build self-esteem and confidence. Keep it safe without
being too restrictive.
your child on during ball play and other active games
lets her know you are involved and encourages her
to test her abilities and take chances.
and other riding toys are a perfect opportunity to
teach "safety first" with helmets and pads.
Reinforce these rules throughout childhood so they
really sink in.
your child outside as often as possible to keep him
active and exercising.
of sitting and watching, join your child on the playground
and swing, climb, and slide together. This makes children
feel important and connected to parents.
your child skipping and hopping games to enhance their
skills using various materials will improve to varying
degrees throughout the next few years. Creative building
play will advance using more complex toy blocks and
sets. Children become more able to take care of their
own needs, and will try to "do it myself"
more and more. Here are some ways you can promote these
fine motor skills through interactive play:
older toddler will become more skilled with fingers
and hands. Buttons, zippers, snaps and shoelaces are
great skills you can work on together everyday. A
dress up doll with these features is a helpful learning
creative picnic or tea party is a great way for your
preschooler to practice pouring and utensil skills
without risking too much mess at the dinner table.
Let your child take part in these special lunch times
together each day to stay connected.
musical instruments continue to be a great way for
children to perfect their hand and finger coordination.
Join in and sing along together.
rhythm is an important part of learning about music
and song. Clap different beats together to help develop
your child's sense of rhythm. Drums and other toy
instruments make this even more fun.
growing child will become more adept at various forms
of art using different materials and tools. Frequent
art projects together are great fun and will exercise
your child's creative mind.
preschooler's expert hands will love building with
more advanced blocks and interlocking plastic sets.
Joining your child in this type of play builds his
sense of importance and confidence.
and cognitive development
play is the hallmark of the preschooler years. This
will advance from simple imaginative toy play into more
creative fantasy play with costumes and acting out stories.
Children begin to take part in organized game play with
rules. Social interaction with family and close friends
blossoms during these years as your child learns names
and develops more relationships. Self-help skills such
as brushing teeth, dressing, combing hair, and eating
will all become a part of daily life for your child.
Here are some ways you can promote your child's social
and cognitive skills through interactive play:
toddlers love to imitate their caregivers. Pretend
grown-up toys like phones, tool sets, toy kitchen
items and more help your child feel they are part
of your world.
rides are a great time to interact with your kids.
Singing songs or nursery rhymes, pointing to police
cars and fire trucks, or just asking questions and
talking together will help you stay connected.
play is a favorite for kids, and a great way for you
to join in the fun. Provide plenty of costume clothes
and props and watch your child's creativity soar.
to be a favorite animal is a classic creative game
for kids. Show off your own role-playing animal skills
to thrill and entertain your children.
preschoolers like to imitate older siblings. Let your
child join in various day-to-day activities such as
packing his own pretend lunch, going to pretend school,
and joining in on art projects and pretend "homework".
child will want to start taking care of himself such
as brushing teeth, combing hair, and dressing. Make
these everyday tasks more fun by doing them together
as a family. Your child will thrill to do these "just
like mommy, daddy and big sister".
will begin to enjoy organized games. These are perfect
for teaching counting skills, colors, numbers, and
the ever-frustrating concepts of rules and taking
through family photo albums together to help your
child become acquainted with extended family members.
Play the point and name game as you go.
age two, children begin putting words together into
sentences of increasing length. Speech becomes more
and more clear over the next few years. Children learn
simple counting and will proudly practice this as often
as possible. Singing and reciting nursery rhymes is
a favorite preschool game. Eventual progression to letters
and numbers will occur all too soon as your child approaches
school age. Here are some ways you can promote your
child's language skills through interactive play:
together every day continues to be one of the best
ways to enjoy quiet togetherness with your child.
Nursery rhymes and other simple stories are perfect
for younger preschoolers, while older kids will begin
to understand and appreciate more involved stories.
colors is an exciting milestone. As you interact with
your child throughout the day using colorful toys
and picture books, keep asking your child to point
out the various colors. Comparing the colors on your
child's clothes to your own or a favorite doll helps
reinforce this learning.
toys can be used to teach counting. Begin counting
blocks, small balls, stacking cups and other toys
as you sit and play together.
body parts is also a fun way to play and interact
with your child while teaching at the same time. Incorporate
a favorite doll or animal toy and count the eyes,
ears, fingers and toes together.
child will begin to recognize letters and numbers.
Blocks with these symbols on them are a perfect beginning
tool for introducing this concept. Books and flash
cards also work well.
letters and numbers for the refrigerator or in the
bath are fun to use. Start by spelling your child's
name to catch his interest.
the "how many" game together throughout
the day. Point to various objects around your child
and ask her to count them. This works great for colors
Developmental Milestones 2 years and up:
One-on-one interactive playtime will help your baby progress
through these stages.
- Climbs ladders
- Balances on one foot
- Hops, jumps and skips
- Stacks several blocks
- Draws shapes and pictures
- Coloring skills advance
- Names family and friends
- Brushes teeth and dresses self
- Plays organized games
- Tells stories/imagination
becomes more clear
Dr. Sears' Top Interactive
Play Tips for 2 years and up
- Find teachable moments throughout the day - great for
counting and colors
- Provide plenty of costumes and props for