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Simple but fun - By Ruth Liew

Ordinary household items provide a wealth of playthings to keep young children entertained.
YOUNG children enjoy playing with what they see around them everyday. Expensive toys and highly structured activities can only capture young children’s attention for a short span. It is the things they are familiar with that make play meaningful and fun.
For a drum, you can use an empty tin or a saucepan. Older children can even decorate their own home-made drum and drumstick improvised from a ladle. Children do not complain that the cooking utensil hardly resembles the real thing. Rather, they are fascinated by the endless fun they get from something that allows them to imagine and play without any restraint.
Collect several small household items such as jar lids, a milk powder scoop, a comb, a plastic knife and a ladle. Trace the objects on a large piece of manila cardboard. Allow your child to match the objects with the outlines.

It will help if you are aware of your child’s limits and abilities. When you start a game with her, do not expect instant results. It will probably take several tries before she understands what to do. Let her slowly warm up to the idea. If she refuses to participate, do not get disappointed or upset. Young children can be exuberant one moment, and uncooperative and difficult the next. Here are some activities that your child may enjoy doing:
Children take delight in building a tower of empty shoeboxes and knocking it down. You can substitute with milk or juice cartons, plastic boxes or even large bath sponges. The fun is in stacking up the items and knocking them down.
Monkey see, monkey do
Children like imitating their parents’ behaviour and actions. Why not make a game out of it? Well, this can be quite enjoyable for both parent and child. With minimal fuss, the parent sits facing his child. He says to her: “Put your hands on your head.” Do the action and observe how your child imitates you. For a variation, try doing it without words.
Jump for joy
Get a pillow or a cushion. Have your toddler stand on top of the pillow, and sit in front of her. Say to her: “Here we go! Are you ready to jump?” Hold her hands and help her jump up and down on top of the pillow. While still holding her hands, shout out: “One, Two, Three ... Jump!” When your child jumps, lift her off the pillow and onto the floor. End the activity with a big hug.
Ring around the rosie
As your child grows older, she will enjoy exploring spatial relationships. Use a hula-hoop, a circle made of a string or masking tape of about one metre in diameter.
Say to your child: “Look! Daddy is in the circle. Can you step inside the circle with me?”
When she does exactly that, you can respond with: “We are both inside the circle!” Then both of you can step out of the circle together.
You can hold hands with your child and walk around the circle singing the popular nursery rhyme:
Ring around a rosey,
A pocket full of posey
Husha, husha
We all fall down!
For variation, you can play jumping or hopping around, inside and outside the circle.
Jungle escapades
I remember as a child, my siblings and I used to move the furniture around the house and pretend we were going through the jungle. We went under and over our make-believe valleys and mountains made out of chairs and tables. We swam and dived in “rivers” made of coloured bedsheets. We conjured up our very own adventures.
Families who spend more time playing with one another tend to be happier and more relaxed. In many homes today, toddlers and preschoolers find their parents stressed out and unhappy. There is little time to share happy moments together. Children are often coerced to do structured learning like drawing lines from point A to point B or ticking the correct answer. It is hardly pleasurable for both to spend time together.
When you keep things simple and have fun with your child, you will find that she will grow in confidence and become more observant. She may pick up a few words and develop skills that will come in handy when she starts academic learning.

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