Giggles are contagious in a group of toddlers

Group Social Games for Toddlers

by Lisa Walker

Since toddlers are just developing their social skills, if you have a group of 2-year-olds to entertain, you might wonder where to start. While tots like to play with their peers, their attention spans are typically short -- and they're unlikely to follow a lot of rules. Your best bet is to choose simple games to get them laughing and interacting.

1. Circle Games

Getting the kiddos in a circle is always a good place to start. Place a parachute or sheet in the center of the circle of tots and instruct them to hold the edges. Place light plastic balls and soft toys on top of the sheet or parachute -- and challenge the tots to shake them all off -- which should use up some energy and bring on some giggles. Once they manage to shake off all the toys, say, "I bet you can't hold the parachute up really high" -- and then watch them smile with pride as they prove you wrong. They might also like taking turns sitting under the parachute, while the rest of the kiddos shake it to make waves. This might just cause the hair of the kiddo sitting under the parachute to stick up from the static -- which everyone will find hilarious. Another circle game is to whisper something silly like "smelly feet" to one toddler and watch them giggle as they pass the message around by whispering. You can also try passing a ball to one toddler and say, "Pass it to someone wearing red" -- and have the tot wearing red pass it to someone else wearing a specific color.

2. Active Games

Another idea is to split your group into teams and organize some simple relays. The key is keeping the races simple and silly -- and have small teams so the kiddos aren't waiting too long for their turns. You can have the first team member walk -- not run -- to other side of the room where he will have to put on a hat, and then walk back to his team wearing the hat. The next tot must then put on the hat and wear it back to the other side of the room, where he will leave it before returning to his team and "tagging" the next team member to get the hat again. Or, you can have the toddlers stand in a line and tell them to follow and copy the person in front. Put an adult at the front to start -- and have everyone walk around the room doing actions such as sitting down, turning in a circle and standing on one leg. Let your toddlers take turns being the leader.

3. Pretending

Toddlers love fantasy play. Pretending to be an animal is often popular with this age group, according to AskDrSears. Tell the group that you are going on a walk through the jungle. After setting off, pretend you come across a tiger. This is your cue to tell them to walk around the room like tigers, saying hello to all the other tigers. Work your way through animals such as snakes and monkeys. You can also act out a fairy tale with groups of toddlers taking on the different roles. As they "act" their way through the story, ask the toddlers if they know what happens next -- and you will undoubtedly get lots of excited responses.

4. Musical Games

You can also sing nursery rhymes that involve interaction -- and act them out together. For example, for "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," have the children sit in pairs facing each other and holding hands, rocking back and forth. Then, hold hands in a circle or line and sing and dance to "The Hokey Pokey" and "Ring a Ring O' Roses." Other favorites might include "Ten in a Bed" and "Five Little Monkeys."

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