Despite the biggest load of early parenting traditionally falling onto the mothers’ shoulders, dads are becoming more active participants in the first years of baby development. They are not only skilled in changing nappies and warming up the milk formula, there are also SO GOOD in entertaining and playing learning games for kids.
Dads, there is no need to wait until your son or daughter grows up enough to share the fun of football or fishing. You can develop their brains right now, from early years.
So, in case that Dad is eager to spend quality time with his baby or young children but, the youngsters are not exactly ready to play a game console or share the fun of Star Wars films yet, here are some learning games for kids from PlayMama app that DADS could be incredibly good at. So the mother might have a rest … if not by having a nap, then at least by doing groceries.
1. Hide My toy
Take a toy, show it and name it to your baby – “Look, here’s the Duck!” Cover the toy with a blanket or a napkin and ask your baby: “Where did the Duck go?” Then encourage them to lift up the covers and reveal the toy. Praise your little one when they ‘find’ the toy and continue repeating its name – “Well done! You’ve found Duck!” Then repeat it again with another toy.
Learning Component – Don’t forget to ask your child about the name of each toy when it’s been found, so they can repeat it.
2. Ready, Steady, Cook!
In the kitchen, give your child several pans, kitchen containers of different sizes and a wooden spoon and let them ‘cook’ something for you. To make it more realistic, put big dry pasta shapes or medium-size toys in the pot and let him ‘mix’ them. To add variety to the game, you could give them washed carrots, apples or other solid vegetables and ask them to fill the pan and the containers.
Learning Component – Let your child explore how many objects they can fit into the container. Comment on what he’s doing and what you’re doing.
Feel free to turn it into a role play by putting an apron on him and asking him to be a chef.
3. Unwrapping Presents
4. Treasure hunt in the sand!
On your own or with help from your child, hide a toy in the sand and help them to find it. Get them involved in ‘guessing’ which toy you’re looking for, asking: “Which toy will we find now? Will it be the spade? Or will it be Ducky?” and then help them to find the toy. And when you finally do, say: “Look, we found the treasure! We found a spade!”
Learning Component – You can count the ‘treasure’ and talk about colours or shapes. To make the game more interesting, once your child gets used to the game you can ask them to hide the toys themselves, so you can find them now.
Treasure hunting is addictive, so don’t be surprised if your kid asks you for a metal detector for their 6th birthday!
Ever get tired and bored of staying at home with your baby? This game is a perfect way to liven up your normal routine. Let’s go sightseeing … in your house!
Put your baby into their holder facing out to the room and walk slowly along the bookshelves and pictures on the wall. You’ll see by the movements of your baby how much they are interested in the things around the house. You can sing “The wheels on the bus” when moving to the next stop in your journey; the bathroom for example: there are lots of colourful things in there, or in mum’s wardrobe…
Learning Component – Comment on what you’re seeing. “This is the thick old book about a big bear… and this is a nice red book with lovely images…This circle is a clock and these are long candles.”
Dad’s most favourite game!
Hold your baby face down with your hands securely on their tummy. Move your baby up and down, saying, for example: ‘Jonny’s flying. Wheeee!’
Why not make this game a learning one? Learning Component –Talk about the direction your child is flying in: ‘Up and down, left and right.’ Put on some of YOUR FAVOURITE music and move in time with it. This’ll help develop your baby’s sense of rhythm and you’ll both have even more fun!
7. To me – To you
Desperately looking for a companion for any future football games? It’s the right moment to start to practice.
Sit on the floor or on the carpet, gently kick a medium-sized ball towards your child, then run to their side and kick it back.
Perfect for developing their gross motor skills.
8. Little Kickers
See more Pins with Games for Dads on our Pinterest Board.
9. Objects, Objects
This is one of the learning games for kids that is great when you need to keep your little one busy while you’re doing important daddy stuff! Give your child whatever objects you can find, like building blocks, small plastic boxes, pans and spoons. Put several small toys next to your kid as well and give some suggestions on how they can use all of these amazing things. For example: ‘Can you build a very high tower from these boxes? Let’s try to put teddy on top – will he stay up there?’
Learning Component – Name the objects for the child and count them. This is a great game for introducing the concept of size: ‘Look, this toy can fit in this box. It’s a big box. Uh-oh, it can’t fit into this pan; the pan’s too small!’
10. Make a House
11. Treasure hunt in the sand!
And again, it’s time for a treasure hunt in the sand! Have a look at the description of the game and use as many toys as your little one is ready to focus on at a time.
12. Target Practice
Children (and not only children) love throwing things, so why not turn throwing into a sport? So, as all the toys spread out in the room, try throwing them into a cardboard box, one by one. Learning Component – Count your score, saying: ‘One toy’s in the box! Well done, daddy! Two toys in the box! Well done, (Johnny)!’ and do this until all of the toys are in the box. If you have an older child then invite them to join in, too. This is a great way to tidy up a messy room at the end of a play-date…
13. Yep, Piggy Bank!
You don’t need to understand the concept of money to start a little piggy-bank! Make a large hole in a cardboard box and let your little one drop his toys into the box. You could use an empty wet wipes box with a ready-made hole on the top and give him some smaller objects to drop inside the box.
Learning Component – when it’s full, open the box and take the toys out one after another, counting and naming them.
14. Road Works
15. Indoor Fun Run
Rainy day? Kids at home? There is still a way to let them move around with a target in mind.
Organise a home fun run! There should be a sequence of activities they can do one after the other. Let’s say, much like an obstacle course: do a small rolly-polly, jump over the piles of books, crawl under the table, hop to the lines of spots, walk alone the skipping rope, crawl into the box, jump in a basket from the toys.
Now it’s your turn to choose – are you the time tracker (so you can use your smartphone for this), or a judge (if there are siblings or other competitors, too)?
You can track their time and record it in a diary to see the progress they are making for this activity.
16. Fun Run Outdoors
Out for a picnic or in the garden? This game won’t let the kids to get bored at all!
Find a designated area for creating an environment for some ‘stations’. There should be a sequence of activities that they should do one after the other. For example, do a rolly-polly, jump over a small bush, run in circles around the mat, throw piles of bags, walk alone the skipping rope, crawl along to reach a special object, reach the tree and run around it 3 times. What’s are your child’s favourite?
Now it’s your turn to choose – are you the time tracker (so you can use your smartphone for this), or a judge (if there are siblings or a contestants, too)?
You can track their time and record it in a diary to see the progress they are making for this activity!
17. Home Ball
Have a look in your recycling bin to find any paper you can use to make paper balls. Now, offer your child to throw them into a box – any container will do – one by one. It can be on the floor or on the sofa – an imitation of real basketball. Or you can put out a chair and pretend it’s a football game! So, come on! Let’s get your baby to score!
Look, your child is excited and active and your house is still safe… relatively. Want to join in? A little exercise boosts your mood!
18. Hide a spy
Create a ‘secret spy’ assignment for your child to hide a toy in the house. Tell them exactly where each toy should be hidden: on the second shelf in the cupboard, in the lowest drawer, under the sofa, on a windowsill, in mum’s pocket, in a bag or a shoe. Some toys can be hidden in the bathroom, some – in the kitchen. Of course all those toys are spies too. That’s why they should be hidden so that no one can find them.
When the mum is back, she’ll be amazed by the productivity of your baby-sitting when she’ll be finding the toys everywhere around the house.
19. Measure up!
Learning Component – This is a brilliant way to introduce the idea of sizes to your child.
When your little one starts to get interested in comparing sizes, ask them to measure some objects. Let’s measure the length of the TV table or a chair…by feet! How many of your paces make up mum & dad’s bodies? How wide is the room? Your wardrobe? The bed? he Bookshelf? How many child’s feet are there in Dad’s foot? If you’re sure in safety of giving your child a measuring tape, then the game may become even more addictive …
20. The Open
Time for a sports activity and you’re still at home?
This game suits an indoor environment and still develops your child’s co-ordination. Yes! It’s a Home Hand-Golf game. Give your little one a spare toilet roll or a longer size roll. Make a few paper balls out of the recycling paper if you don’t already have small-sized rubber balls and here we go! It is so competitive – trying to push the ball made of paper with a toilet roll into the hole. You could help them aim for a space under the chair, an empty box turned on its side, a space below the sofa – or generally any space with some limits by it’s sides.
It’s hard work, but so engaging and fun. And with a little bit more practice why not join the Open Competition?!
21. I’m a Spy
22. Ariadne’s clew
This is an exciting way for kids to learn counting, navigating skills and even assert their interest in history.
When you leave the house for a walk or if you are alredy in the park, collect a few dry sticks. They will be your ‘markers’ of the path you’re following, Hansel and Gretel style. The corner of the street? Why not to leave a stick there. The path with a right u-turn? One more stick marks this place. A litterbin, a bridge, a bus stop, you can mark anything. Count how many markers you’ve left on your way to collect them back on the way home.
Why not mention Ariadne’s clew as this is exactly how she helped Theseus to get out from the labyrinth of Minotaur.
“Who is the Minotaur, daddy?” Oh, my little one, it was long time ago in Greece when … We are sure you’re very good at telling this story!
23. Park Map
Bored of going to the same park over and over again? In case your child’s getting bored, too, you can revive their interest to the same place by… drawing a map together.
Find any spare paper in your pocket and (hopefully) a pen. Show your child how you are drawing the road or the path you are currently following. Spot the first object nearby; it can be a cropped tree, a litterbin, a huge oak tree– anything significant that they are more likely to remember. Now ask your child to keep on walking towards the park and continue to get them to spot things and mark them down on the map; a pond, a bridge, a toilet, a bench, a playground or flowers.
Your child may get bored soon, however if you take the map home you can encourage your child to copy it onto a bigger piece of paper and then, next time you go to the park they can check your map!
24. Play Dough
I’m sure that your little ones got excited and happy by playing with dad. In case they are TOO excited you might want to wind them down … here’s some quieter games.
Help them make simple shapes out of play dough: a ladybird, the Sun, a mushroom, a nest with eggs, a hedgehog, a bag with fruit, a dolphin, a snail, a crab or an apple tree.
Feeling adventurous? Search online for some advanced characters and try and copy the images with your little one! What about a Minion or Angry birds?
As it’s a relaxing time for you as well, just show them how to make a stamp on a play dough piece with a coins or teach them how to make long-long snakes. Ask them to cover your arm with coins and /or snakes and you’ll see how happy they’ll be to spend their hours doing this (hopefully!).
25. Beauty salon.
Allow your little one to draw a ‘tattoo’ on you, brush your hair, put nail polish and hair clips (in case you’ve got their girly stuff) or simply let them put ‘make up’ on your face (or body). A great bonding activity …