Taking turns and waiting patiently in between is hard for everyone, and is especially hard for small children. As much as we sometimes expect them to share with others, two-year-olds aren’t developmentally ready to do that yet. Taking turns comes before sharing, and your child is ready to practice that now with some adult guidance ❤️
For young children, playing games is often the best way to practice a challenging new skill. Happily, there are many fun ways to practice turn-taking, and the following games and activities are designed specifically for two-year-olds.
Here are 4 turn-taking activities for two-year-olds:
Build a tower together
One of the simplest ways to practice turn-taking is with a set of blocks. By age 3, many children can build a tower as many as nine or ten blocks high—taking turns with a partner is a fun way to work towards a common goal.
- If you can, start the tower on a hard, level surface (carpets are tricky for balancing blocks).
- Be clear with your language and offer your child a pattern to remember: “we’re going to take turns building a tower together, as high as we can! We place them on the tower one block at a time, like this: first me, then you, then me, then you, until it falls over.”
- Try to resist the urge to straighten or fix your child’s block placement. They learn a lot about balance each time the tower topples.
- If they try to place two blocks on the same turn, you can gently remind them: “wait, it’s my turn! Remember the pattern?”
- When your child does this with a peer, you may need to moderate more closely, though if they get into a good rhythm taking turns, you can always take a step back.
Pompom and skewer “Jenga”
This activity is ideal for practising turn-taking because watching your playmate take their turn is just as fun as doing it yourself. Here’s how to play:
- Gather a colander, 20 to 30 wooden skewers or pipe cleaners, and a bunch of craft pompoms. Fill the colander about halfway with pompoms.
- Thread as many skewers as you can through the holes in the sides of the colander (above the level of the pompoms) so that they go all the way through, with their ends sticking out both sides. Overlap and cross-hatch the skewers, so they cover the pompoms as much as possible. Pipe cleaners work too, but their flexibility makes them a little harder to thread. Invite your child to help with this part, but know that it may be tricky for them.
- Place two books, blocks, or other sturdy materials side by side with some space in between, and flip the colander over so that it rests propped up a little above the floor. A few pompoms may spill out.
- It’s time to play! You and your child (and anyone else who wants to join) can now take turns pulling a single skewer out. As you remove more skewers, more and more pompoms will start to spill out, until they’re all on the floor, and it’s time to start over again 🙂
DIY bowling alley
Bowling is an easy game to adapt for young children and a great opportunity to practice turn-taking. A DIY bowling alley can be assembled with only a handful of everyday materials. Here’s how:
- Collect a few empty bottles (plastic beverage bottles of any size work great), wash them out and weigh them down with a little sand or water. Screw the lids on tight and find a ball that rolls well.
- You can start with as few as three “bowling pins” and go as high as ten—if you have more, your child will have an easier time knocking them over. Set the bottles up in a triangular setup, with the point facing you, and sit or stand a few feet away.
- Take turns rolling the ball towards the bottles until they’ve all been knocked over.
- Between each round, invite your child to help you pick up the bottles. Standing them upright is a fun motor precision challenge, and you can put dot stickers on the floor to indicate where the bottles should go.
- If you’re feeling crafty, a slightly more involved version of this activity can be found here.
Having a physical item to hold when it’s their turn to do something can help children more easily internalize the concept. A ball, especially a soft one they can squeeze, is a great tool—but you can really use any soft object. Here are a few ways to use the turn-taking ball:
- When you first introduce it, you can call the object the “turn ball” and explain that only the person holding it can do something—talk, jump, dance, smile—but that their partner will get a turn really soon.
- Practice in small bursts, not allowing 5 to 10 seconds to pass before your child gets the “ball.” They will likely need prompting to return it to you.
- Try taking turns with talking; your child’s impulse control may not be strong enough yet to stay silent while you hold the ball, but then again, they may surprise you 😉
- You can use the ball for all kinds of games and other activities.
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A brilliant set of 70 quality solid-wood blocks for building spatial, language, and problem-solving skills for more than 20 stage-based activities. See inside The Block Set by Lovevery.Learn more
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