7 Fun Games and Activities for 2-Year-Olds

Caitlin White
June 9, 2015

Some parents have described the age as the terrible twos, but by understanding your childs development, you can find ways to work with their newfound independence. At age 2, children want to take some of the lead away from their parents in activities -- and parents should encourage this, though it will require patience. And a crucial step for 2-year-olds is to recognize their achievements.

When the child completes a task to their satisfaction, the parent should know that the child will look to them for recognition of their success, says Dr. Patricia McGuire a developmental and behavioral pediatrics specialist. This recognition is important for the child to register approval by the person they care for, and it helps build social-emotional bonds and the understanding of healthy relationships.

Your 2-year-old will be more imaginative than ever, and theyll have the increased vocabulary and communication skills to discuss their activities. Always communicate back with your child as they play and encourage their budding skills, adds McGuire.

Here are activities to help:

  1. Put on a Puppet Show
    You dont need traditional puppets to make this work -- though theyd be great, too! You just need stuffed animals, action figures or other dolls. Have your child act out a conversation or scene with the toys along with you.

    They are more interested in actively involving themselves in imagination, at age 2, says Dr. McGuire. Dolls, cars and props can be used to imitate the world and adults around them.
  2. Try a Jigsaw Puzzle
    Simple, wooden jigsaw puzzles without too many complicated pieces are perfect toys for your 2-year-olds.

    Jigsaw puzzles, says Dr. McGuire, will help them begin to notice visual details, so that items go from part to whole and from the gestalt to the individual elements.
  3. Play Gymnastics with a Balance Beam
    Does your child like watching the Olympic gymnastics teams? Well now is their chance to imitate them with a simple balance beam game. Mark a beam with masking tape on the floor and have your child try to walk across it. Increase difficulty -- and motor function learning -- by having her hold a balloon or a beach ball, says Marina Koestler Ruben, author of "How to Tutor Your Own Child". Keep increasing the distance of the beam.
  4. Craft Something New
    On a kids play table or on your table covered with newspaper, spread out all kinds of crafting material, such as play dough, feathers, crayons and paper. Have them create a work of art based on their own imagination and then tell you about it.

    Craft items such as play dough will help them understand texture and how manipulation can create things of wonder, says Dr. McGuire. The more they can explore this, the better.
  5. Climb Around in an Obstacle Course
    Set up a simple obstacle course in your backyard, playroom or even at the playground. Use stuffed animals to jump over, for example, or barriers to walk between.

    [2-year-olds] want to master challenges such as climbing and getting in and out of objects, says Dr. McGuire. The obstacle course can help, in this way, not only with motor skills, but with self-confidence and independence.
  6. Fantasize More Advanced Make-Believe
    As with 1-year-olds, 2-year-olds should play with fantasy and make-believe. But now, they can take on more advanced scenarios.

    When my daughter was two, I played make-believe games using foam bath letters, says Ruben. We pretended they were talking to her, and she learned the letters of the alphabet very well. For example, we'd have the letter B sing its own name one night, then have K added to the chorus the next night, and they'd talk about the words they were in -- banana, kangaroo. The letters would ask my daughter which was which -- Which of us is B?  We forgot our names! -- and we gradually increased the letters that were playing the game.
  7. Guess Objects With I-Spy
    This classic car-ride game can be played in your own home with your child. Pick out an object that can be explained with many descriptors -- color, shape, texture, size -- and then have your child try to find it.

    The idea of how things fit together, similarities and differences become more important, says Dr. McGuire. Games that allow the child to explore how things are the same or different would be of interest.

Though a 2-year-olds independence can mean some tired parents, the right games to suit their development level can encourage your child to grow happy and healthy.

Caitlin White is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Huffington Post, Bustle, and HelloGiggles. You can reach out to her on Twitter @caitforestell.

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