Toddler Play at the Park: Follow the Leader


Location: Outdoors

Promotes: Cognitive and motor skill development

When you think about toddler play locations, your local park probably comes to mind. And it should! It’s a great place to head to for fun and games, but did you know it’s also a smart spot for encouraging motor development and helping your child reach other milestones? Swing by the park’s playground to play this fun game -- while helping your tot burn off some energy.

What to play

Use the playground’s landscape as a setting for an outdoor game of follow the leader. Children this age love to mirror the people around them, so your child should jump at the opportunity to be your copycat.

Step 1: Tell your toddler to follow you around the playground and copy everything you do.

Step 2: Start moving! You could run under the monkey bars, crawl around the slide, or climb over steps. Whatever you do, be sure to call out directions as you do it (“Now let’s hop like a bunny to the swing set!"). If your child is too young to follow your directions, you can hold her hand while you move around instead of having her follow after you.

Step 3: Once you’ve navigated the entire playground, give her a big hug and congratulate her on doing such a good job.

Tricks and tips

To ensure safety, stay close to your tot, and keep an eye on the other happenings in the playground. You don’t want your little one running by the slide as another child is coming down. To keep your toddler motivated, be enthusiastic. Cheer, clap -- even play some music using your phone’s speakers!

Learning and growing

At this age, kids are pushing their physical limits and discovering new ways their bodies can move, so climbing, crawling, jumping, and hopping around the playground will help encourage your child’s motor development. Following instructions while being active may also help your child learn new concepts such as up, down, over, and around.

What you’ll need

Just your local playground -- and a solid pair of sneakers.

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

by Katie Murray