Games for 18- to
I’m a little teapot, short and stout. Here is
my handle. Here is my spout. When I get all
steamed up, hear me shout: Tip me over and
pour me out!
Toddlers develop language and
physical skills quickly. A song game such
as I’m a Little Teapot helps them pay
attention to the song’s words, hold them
in their working memory and use them
to cue their movements.
Other song games such as Motorboat,
Motorboat that require little ones to slow
down and speed up (“step on the gas!”)
are excellent for self-control. Imaginary
play—pretending to cook and eat from a
pot, for example—starts to move beyond
just copying grown-ups to developing
Encourage this by narrating what
toddlers are doing or asking questions
about what they’re making (“Are you
baking cookies?” and pretend to eat
one, if it’s offered). Provide an array of
household items, toys, props and dress-
up clothes to spark their imaginations.
Games for three- to-
Everyday errands, such as going to the
doctor’s office, are good material for a
preschooler’s imaginary play. Talk about
the doctor and what she does, and when
you get home, encourage role-playing.
A grown-up’s white shirt and a
lanyard attached to a circle of paper
can serve as the doctor’s coat and
stethoscope. The “doctor” can wrap a
sock around the “patient’s” upper arm to
check blood pressure.
Let the child direct the play; adults can
make suggestions, provide support or
ask questions such as “What’s going to
happen next? Does the doctor send baby
to hospital?” but it’s best if they have a
secondary role. As preschoolers grow
older and more confident with learning
rules and structures, they ideally shift
from being regulated by adults to self-
Obstacle courses, skipping and yoga
poses (“take a big breath and stretch
like a cat!”) challenge focus and self-regulation and get the wiggles out.
Games for five- to
Simon says, jump in the air! Simon says,
turn around! Stick out your tongue!
Fun song games such as Simon Says,
Red Light, Green Light and musical
chairs or statues (freeze dance) require