Pre-K activities, learning games, crafts, and printables


Simple imitation games - Babies and toddlers - Educatall

Simple imitation games

Activities for toddlers and babies

Children learn simple imitation games at a very young age. They begin by performing various actions on themselves (example: brushing their hair) before performing actions involving others (example: placing a baby bottle close to a doll's mouth). This theme will make imitation games especially interesting for little ones.




Depending on the ages of the children in your group, provide them with the opportunity to copy your actions during various routines by encouraging them to execute simple tasks such as turning off the lights, handing out sippy cups, or carrying a pot or dish to the kitchen at the end of the meal. You can use illustrations to represent tasks children are able to perform or take part in.


Copying gestures and facial expressions
Take advantage of diaper changes to encourage babies and toddlers to copy various gestures and facial expressions: a frown, a fish face, blowing a kiss, clapping, etc. If possible, set an unbreakable mirror next to your changing table.


To teach children how to wash their face after meals, provide wet facecloths and invite them to copy you as you rub a facecloth over your face. Pay special attention to your mouth to encourage children to do the same.



Tickles and giggles
You will need several soft feathers. Have fun manipulating them with babies and toddlers. Show them how they can use the feathers to tickle different parts of their body (examples: their hand or the top of their feet). At first, encourage them to tickle parts of their own body. After a while, they can tickle your hand or a friend's hand too.




Real food
Let babies and toddlers manipulate various food items like adults. Provide a large bowl, spatulas, and dry cereal. They will have fun stirring the cereal. Toddlers can even practice transferring cereal to small bowls for snack time. Variation: Play restaurant with the children in your group. Simply provide plastic cups, juice, plastic plates, and cookies at snack time.




Makeup and facecloths
In front of a mirror, have fun drawing a dot on the tip of each child's nose with makeup pencils. Draw a dot on the tip of your own nose too. Invite children to admire their reflection in the mirror before handing them a facecloth they can use to make the makeup disappear. Wash your nose first to show them what they must do. Repeat the activity if children seem interested.


Washing the table
Allow babies and toddlers to draw on their highchair tray or on a table using washable markers. The goal is to give children the opportunity to draw on something different, something besides the paper we normally provide for a drawing activity. Test the crayons on the various surfaces first. When they are done, show children how they can use moistened facecloths to make their drawings disappear.


Newspapers, magazines, etc.
Encourage children to "read" newspapers and magazines like their parents. Babies and toddlers will enjoy manipulating the material, especially turning the pages and admiring the pictures. You may choose to let them tear the pages, crumple them, and use the balls of paper they create to fill various containers.




Imitation containers
Create several different imitation containers to encourage children to take part in simple imitation games. Only one container should be accessible at a time. When children begin to lose interest in the contents of this container, put it away and take a new one out.


Here are a few ideas:

  • A doll container filled with baby bottles, diapers, plastics bowls, and spoons.
  • A kitchen container filled with small pots & pans, plastic food items, plates, and glasses.
  • A veterinarian container filled with stuffed animals, blankets, metal bowls, balls, and a doctor's kit.
  • A hairdressing container filled with soft hairbrushes, headbands, unbreakable mirrors, dolls with long hair, and a plastic hairdryer.



Pencils and notebooks
Create a special corner or container filled with pencils, notebooks, notepads, old agendas, and calendars. Children will enjoy pretending to write notes like their parents and their early childhood educator. Let toddlers scribble on the material as they wish.


Peek-a-boo games (object permanence)
This imitation game is perfectly suited for children from 10 to 12 months of age. You will need small blankets or scarves. Have fun hiding behind the fabric and then popping out as you say "peek-a-boo". Invite babies and toddlers to do the same.



Games involving a ball
Play with a ball and invite babies and toddlers to copy your actions. Sit on the floor with one child at a time. Roll the ball towards the child and wait for him/her to roll it back to you. Encourage children to take turns pushing the ball with their feet, throwing it with their hands, and tossing it into a large box or laundry basket.


Go for a stroll
Purchase several toy strollers and have fun using them to take dolls and/or stuffed animals for a walk in a safe area, for example a hallway, your yard, at the playground, or on a sidewalk.



Whenever you hear a young child babbling, make a point of paying attention to him/her by placing yourself at his/her level and repeating the sounds he/she makes. This will make nice exchanges possible and promote language development.


Rhymes involving gestures
Songs and rhymes involving gestures and actions represent great imitation games for little ones. I am sure you know several. Here are the lyrics for a popular rhyme for example.


Head, shoulders, knees, and toes

Head, shoulders, knees, and toes
Knees and toes
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes
Knees and toes
And eyes, and ears, and mouth,
And nose
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes
Knees and toes

Chantal Millette
Early childhood educator is not responsible for the content of this article. The information mentioned in this article is the responsibility of the author. shall not be held responsible for any litigation or issues resulting from this article.


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