Games for Learning

Provided by Healthy Start, Grow Smart

Children learn through play, and your infant is ready to learn. Try some of these activities to help him learn about his world while you both have fun.

  • Read pictures. Share pictures, magazines and the newspaper with your baby. Point to and name things, actions, colors and people. You might, for example, look at a colorful ad. Point to the girl, boy, stove, radio, lawn mower, blue shirt and gardener.
  • Feel textures. Cut squares of fabric and glue them to a piece of cardboard. Try to have a variety of textures like corduroy, satin, burlap, vinyl and fake fur. Let your baby sit with you, and help him feel each of the different textures with his hands. Describe the textures with words like rough, smooth, soft, bumpy and prickly.
  • Fill and dump. Gather five or six small, empty food containers like gelatin boxes, an oatmeal box and small cereal boxes. Tape or glue the containers closed. Give your baby a small paper bag. Show him how to fill the bag with groceries and dump them out again.
  • Love the baby. Give your baby a large baby doll or stuffed animal. Show him how to rock and cuddle with the doll. Point to and say, "eyes,"" "nose," "mouth," "ears," "tummy" and "legs." Show your baby where these features are on his body. Say, "Here are the baby's ears. Where are your ears?"

Games for skill building

Physical skills: Your baby is probably crawling or scooting around the floor. Help him build strong muscles and improve his balance. Build a mountain for him to climb by piling pillows on the floor. Encourage him to crawl over the mountain. Sit on the floor with your baby so you can help steady him as he climbs.

Social skills: Sing songs with your baby. Borrow recordings of children's music from the public library. Dance with the music or make finger and arm motions that match the words of the song.

Emotional skills: Your baby can probably recognize himself now. Hang an unbreakable mirror on a wall low to the ground. Encourage your baby to look at himself in the mirror. Talk to him about the image. Say things like, "Look at Juan in the mirror. He's smiling now. Juan has curly hair."

Language skills: Your 9-month-old is a babbler. He probably copies sounds and soon will be saying words. Talk to him often. Play a game in which you say sounds —"ma-ma-ma-ma," for example. Give him time to repeat the sound to you. When he makes a sound, say it back to him.

Intellectual skills: Your baby is learning that things exist, even if he can't see them. He can follow your voice from another room. He can crawl to get a ball that has rolled under a chair. Play "Hide and Find" with him. Get a small object like a block or a spoon. Cover it with a small towel or scarf. Ask, "Where is the block?" Let your baby uncover the block by moving the scarf. He'll love to play this game over and over.

Healthy Start, Grow Smart: U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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