3 great games to develop your toddler’s cognitive development

One of the best ways to nurture a young brain is through play – games challenges thinking and the ability to process information.

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The body as an “architect” of the brain

Parenting expert Nikki Bush explains that the body is an “architect of the brain” during childhood, and in order to best understand the world around them, children need to be exposed to a range of scenarios to ensure the brain remains stimulated. She explains that school, home and outdoor environments are important; and so are toys and games with educational value, like Lego, and arts and crafts.  Engaging in conversation with both adults and children is also a “big advantage” and encourages interaction and open communication.

Why it’s important for kids to learn to express themselves

Different stages, different needs

“Children go through various stages of development that all play a role in their ultimate cognitive development. Different environments, different people and different toys with value help to stimulate the young mind and assists children to interpret new information accurately,” Bush says.

And a young brain learns easily. She explains that during childhood the brain is “extremely plastic and elastic”. This means that learning is much easier for young children than older people.

“Ever hear the saying that a child’s brain is like a sponge? That’s because when they’re young, children are able to absorb information and understand things quite easily,” she says.

Phases of learning:

  • Concrete
  • Semi-concrete
  • Abstract

The concrete learning phase is most important, Bush says no images on screens or in a book can substitute the real thing, “real trumps everything in early learning.”

“Children thrive on three-dimensional learning. And the concrete phase allows a child to interact with a real object with their bodies. They are able to feel that an apple is round, see its colour, taste and smell it,” she says.

Bush says children should be able to internalise and experience with their bodies for an ultimate memorable learning experience.

5 benefits of imaginative play

These games are great for cognitive development

LEGO DUPLO – My First Cars and Trucks, R299.90

Suitable for ages 18 months – 5 years
Available from Toy Kingdom 

Toddlers will learn to combine the wheelbases and colourful bricks to make vehicles of all shapes and sizes in this fun game. Endless options for creativity and storytelling are packed into this inspirational set and there are decorated bricks and building cards to spark new ideas. The large DUPLO bricks are specially designed to be safe and suitable for little hands.

Lego Duplo Cars and Trucks

LEGO DUPLO – My First Playhouse, R299.90

Suitable for ages 18 months – 5 years
Available from Toy Kingdom

Combine the chunky pieces to build the playhouse as a perfect introduction to basic construction skills. The special decorated bricks showing key parts of the daily routine provide talking points for you and your toddler so you can teach her about her day. The night/day brick helps set the scene for learning and role play. Start your stories with this easy-to-build set and help the two DUPLO figures get up in the morning, eat breakfast, brush their teeth, and have fun on the slide before lying them down in the beds to rest. The brightly coloured DUPLO bricks are designed especially to be safe and suitable for little hands.

Lego Duplo My First Playhouse

LEGO DUPLO – Shooting Gallery, R399.90

Suitable for ages 2 – 5 years
Available from Toy Kingdom

Young children will love to fire the cannon at the three targets on the LEGO DUPLO Shooting Gallery stall. Encourage your tot to have fun trying to knock them over, and they can win a prize for one of the two DUPLO figures. Help them fetch a drink from the juice kiosk, and then rebuild it together and play all over again!

Lego Duplo Shooting Gallery

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