Take the time to play

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SINGING nursery rhymes, playing games or reading favourite childhood books – most of us have fond memories of those first few years at home.

The games we play as toddlers play a vital role in making us who we are today, a the Scottish government’s PlayTalkRead campaign has launched a new initiative to encourage mums and dads to tally up the fun they have with their tots.

The scheme has launched 30 Things to do Before You’re 3 – a list of must-dos for ages three and under, from jumping in puddles to pulling silly faces.

The list provides a golden opportunity for parents to spend quality time with their little ones – not to mention the benefits in terms of development.

Evidence shows that 75 per cent of brain growth takes place in the first three years of life, and kids aged three already have 50 per cent of language in place.

Parenting Across Scotland, a partnership of charities supporting families, has backed the campaign, and project manager Clare Simpson said: “We all remember the simple things like going to the park and going down the slide, or splashing in puddles on a rainy day – but quite often take for granted how important these moments were.

“The good news for mums and dads is you don’t have to wait until your kids are bigger to do fun things together. There are lots of opportunities to get out there and have simple fun every day, and for little cost.

“So make the most of this time while you can – start ticking off the checklist before the early years are gone.”

Glasgow mum Ashley Reid, a part time charity worker, ensures she spends her two days off having fun with two-year-old Jennie.

Ashley explained: “We can spend hours together playing singsong, and she loves hearing stories too – we read to her before bed every night, which is a really special family time.

“I think it really keeps Jennie engaged, and I can already see a difference in how much she has come on.”

For more play ideas – including song lyrics, baking recipes and how to guides – visit the PlayTalkRead website.

30 Things to do Before You’re 3:

— Feed the birds

— Dig out your wellies, jump in a puddle and make a splash!

— Make a foot / hand print

— Build a sand or mud castle – if you can’t get to the beach create your own sandpit (see website)

— Catch a snowflake

— Take part in a treasure hunt and collect sticks, stones and leaves

— Play hide and seek

— Pull a silly face in the mirror

— Play peek-a-boo

— Sing Old Macdonald had a Farm

— Build a secret den - throw a sheet over a table or chairs for a new space to play in!

— Get squishy with play dough

— Get busy in the kitchen – create a clown face with fruit or help dad with some rock cakes

— Take a trip to the park and go down the slide frontwards and backwards

— Max out your library card

— Burst a bubble

— Get noisy and make your own drum kit with pots and pans

— Plant a seed and watch something grow

— See a creepy crawly up close

— Visit a castle

— Climb on an adult for a piggy back / horsey ride

— Have a laugh in the bath getting playful with soap and suds

— See how many different animal noises you can make

— Paint a picture of your family or pet

— Do the hokey cokey

— Spot a plane in the sky

— Do the actions to Incy Wincy Spider

— Spot and chase your own shadow

— Build a tower and knock it down