Explore Through Movement and Play

Explore Through Movement

Explore Through Movement and Play


Movement and play are good for children’s coordination, strength and overall health. They are also ways that children explore and learn about the world. Each stage of development comes with new opportunities for learning. For example, an infant might explore by touching, grasping, chewing or crawling. A toddler might explore by walking or climbing.

Young children are like scientists—curious and excited to explore their surroundings. See where your child’s curiosity takes them. The more you pay attention, the more you will learn about the person they are becoming. There are so many simple opportunities to play in Guilford County on walks, at playgrounds, at splashpads, and in your own backyard. Get out and Explore Through Movement and Play!

Do Tummy Time Give your infant regular “tummy time.” When they lift their head to look around, they strengthen the upper body and prepare muscles to crawl. They also get a new view of their surroundings!

Practice Reaching Hold a toy over your infant’s head or put one on the floor just beyond their reach. This will encourage your infant to reach and build coordination.

Play Peek-a-Boo This game teaches infants that objects (and people) exist even when hidden. It’s also a fun way to bond with your child.

Give Them Things to Handle Provide objects of different colors, shapes and textures to play with. Handling objects helps with hand-eye coordination and motor skills. Use everyday objects. You don’t need fancy toys to keep your baby’s attention!

Support Discovery Your infant discovers how the world works by experimenting. They also learn through repetition, so they might drop a spoon over and over to see what happens. Watch and assist!

Play Search and Find Put an object under a bucket or blanket and see if your child can find it.

Let Them Move Around Let your child explore their surroundings by reaching, rolling, scooting and crawling. This is good for coordination. It also strengthens their “mind’s eye” as they see things from new angles and sense where they are in space. Just make sure they are safe!

Sink or Float During bath time, guess which objects will sink or float. Then place it in the water and find out. Try a different object to see what happens. Talk about it.

On and Off Help your baby push buttons or turn things off and on (with supervision). Think doorbells, light switches and faucets. Talk about what they did and what happened.

Container Play Once your baby can grasp objects, they will enjoy picking them up and dropping them into containers. What objects/containers could they use? Describe their actions.

Move Arms and Legs When playing with your baby, help them experience new movements. Gently bicycle their legs. Or clap their hands or feet together in a rhythm while you sing or chant.

Mirror Play Give your baby a small mirror to play with or sit in front of a large mirror together and make faces. Point to and label their body parts.

Follow Them Toddlers learn a lot by experimenting on their own. If your child looks like they are concentrating on something, like pouring water in the bath or stacking blocks, stand back for a moment and let them problem solve for themselves. This is exercise for their brain!

Help Them Build Use blocks to build a tower. How high can you go? What happens when you knock it over? What other shapes can you and your child build? You don’t need to buy blocks to do this. You can also use cardboard boxes or plastic cups.

Make Art Drawing is a good way to exercise little hands and be creative. Put out some crayons and paper. Your child can also experiment with tearing and folding the paper.

Roll A Ball Roll a ball or a bottle back and forth to develop coordination and teach about cause and effect.

Play Obstacle Course Make a simple obstacle course. You can use blankets, pillows or boxes. See if your child can go over, under, around and through these objects.

Play Hide and Seek Your child can hide behind the couch or under the table. Or, you can hide objects around the room. This is a great activity for developing their thinking skills.

Use Position Words In all of these activities, use words like “over, under, near, far, through, around.”

Take a Walk Everything is new for young children, so an activity as simple as a walk around the block offers lots of opportunities for exploration. Stop and examine rocks, bugs or plants. Talk about what you see.

On and Off Help your baby push buttons or turn things off and on (with supervision). Think doorbells, light switches and faucets. Talk about what they did and what happened.

Fast and Slow Dancing Play a fast song for your child to dance to, then a slow song. Talk about the different speeds and how your child’s dancing changes with the music. Join in if you could use a dance break!

Keep It Simple Simple objects provide opportunities for using imagination. Provide your child with simple toys and objects to use creatively. What would they do with a cardboard box and a paper towel tube?

Move Like Animals Invite your child to move like different animals. Can they hop like a frog? Flap like a bird? Slither like a snake? Burn off some energy and have fun choosing new animals to imitate.

Mystery Bag Play guessing games. For example, put a few objects in a bag and have your child guess what’s inside without looking. They can feel, smell and shake the bag.

Act It Out Toddlers will start to imitate grown-up activities, like putting a doll to sleep or giving it a shot. Follow their lead and play along or watch as they play independently.

Move Like Animals Invite your child to move like different animals. Can they hop like a frog? Flap like a bird? Slither like a snake? Help them burn off some energy and have fun.

Make A Plan Help your child make a plan before they play pretend. Ask them who or what they want to be and what they need to play that role. You can offer ideas but make sure your child feels in control.

Family Portrait Have your child draw a family picture using crayons, pencils, or markers. Talk about their creation.

Play A Game of Simon Says Give your child a pose or action to do. Then they have to stay still and quiet until you give them another direction. “Simon Says: pat your head…Simon Says: stomp your feet.” After they get the hang of it, let them be Simon!

Think Like Scientists Encourage your child to make predictions. “I wonder what will happen if you mix the red and green paint?” Then see if their prediction comes true.

Guilford Basics