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Heading: Play to Learn

Allowing your child to play is a must! A healthy balance between children playing on their own and having structured play with parents is important for early learning and development.

Build a fun foundation for learning with these activities.

Graphic: A meandering path like a child’s board game, with alternating empty spaces and spaces with text. Assorted illustrations accompany many of the game spaces.

The first space is blank.

Graphic: A father playing with a baby.

The second space reads, “Choose books with several different textures, shapes, and items that your baby can hold and touch.”

Graphic: A children’s book. On the cover are a circle, a triangle, and a square.

The next space is blank.

Graphic: A mother holding a baby wrapped in a blanket. Musical notes float above her, showing that she is singing to the baby.

The next space reads, “Describe and compare objects for your baby.”

Graphic: Two apples, two bananas, and an orange.

The next space is blank.

Graphic: A father pushing a toddler in a grocery cart. He is showing the child two apples of different sizes and saying, “Apples are red. This one is bigger than that one.”

The next space reads, “Show your child that objects can behave in surprising ways.” The following space is blank. The next space reads, “Allow your 8-month-old to see what happens when you roll a toy off of a table or jiggle your keys.”

Graphic: A bouncing ball and four keys on a key ring.

The next space is blank. The following space reads, “Ask your child open-ended questions while reading.”

Graphic: A father sitting in a chair and reading to a toddler sitting in his lap. The father is asking the child, “Why do you think the lion is running?”

The following space is blank.

The next space reads, “Count objects you see with your child.”

Graphic: A children’s book with a rabbit’s face on the cover.

The next space is blank.

Graphic: A mother with a toddler playing with building blocks numbered 1, 2, and 3. The mother is saying to the child, “How many blocks do you see? One, two, three! There are three blocks total!”

Graphic: Crayons, drawing paper, and building blocks with the letters A, B, and C.

The next space reads, “Use blocks and puzzles to help your toddler learn about shapes and how they fit together.”

Graphic: A shape puzzle with a triangle, a square, and a circle.

The next space is blank.

The next space reads, “Play ‘I spy…’ with colors, numbers, and shapes.”

Graphic: A mother playing with a child on a slide. There are flowers nearby. The mother is saying, “I spy two purple flowers!” The next space is blank.

Graphic: A child’s toy train with the letters A, B, and C on the cars.

The next space reads, “Introduce memory cards to your 2-year-old.” The following space is blank.

The next space reads, “Play board games with game pieces that you move along a pathway by counting spaces.” The final space is blank.

Graphic: A mother and father walking with a small child. The child is wearing a backpack, and the parents are holding the child’s hands. In the distance is a building with a sign that reads “Preschool.”

Graphic: Logo of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Links to http://www.hhs.gov.

Graphic: Logo of the NIH Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Links to https://www.nichd.nih.gov/Pages/index.aspx.

Learn more about how play supports early learning. Visit https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/early-learning.

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