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Dr. Paddy Favazza is a senior research associate at the Center for Social Development and Education at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her research in special education examines curriculum development for motor and social skills. She also studies teacher preparation, inclusion, and methods and assessment in early childhood special education.

"If there's any area of development that is really universally important in demonstrating every child's capacity to learn, it is in this area of motor development. In fact, some of the work I've done in the past 10 years has been in a variety of countries and in a lot of different cultures, and what we've seen across all of them is that family members, of course, can see those early motor development indicators when a child is just an infant: rotating their head, trunk control, rolling over. 

Play to Learn

Those early benchmarks in motor behavior really do signal to those parents that their child is either typically developing and doing so in a timely fashion or maybe is not doing that motor development in a typical or timely way."

Brain-Building Through Play: Activities for Infants, Toddlers and Children
Play Tools Resource  

6 Months.JPG

6 Games to Play
Babies (6 months)

6 Games to Play
Toddlers (2-3 years)

5 Games to Play
Babies (9 months)

5 Games to Play
Children (4-7 years)

5 Games to Play
Toddlers (12 months)

6 Games & Activities
Children (8-12 years)

5 Games to Play
Toddlers (18 months)

6 Games & Activities
Teens (13-17 years)

Brothers playing on toy

 A very important aspect of play, especially for infants and toddlers, is that play is a way they learn about and make sense of their world. Through play children can manipulate and understand the physical properties of objects, use and hear new language, build their relationships with caregivers and peers ...

What is Play?

Good activity habits begin early in your child’s life. As early as infancy, you can help your child grow lifelong healthy play habits. Your child learns from you, so while you help him be active, try to do the same activities!

Special playtime is a chance for you to focus on your child’s good behaviors and build a strong, nurturing relationship. It can be a fun way for you to learn how to communicate with your child. 


Brown, Stuart, and Christopher Vaughan. 2009. Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. New York: The Penguin Group.

Elkind, David. 2007. The power of play: How spontaneous, imaginative activities lead to happier, healthier children. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.

Gerber, Magda, and Allison Johnson. 1998. Your self-confident baby: How to encourage your child’s natural abilities—from the very start. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Ginsburg, Kenneth R. 2007. The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parent–child bonds. Pediatrics 119(1): 182–91.

Hughes, Fergus P. 2010. Children, play, and development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Lieberman, Alicia F. 1993. The emotional life of the toddler. New York: The Free Press.

National Association for Sports and Physical Education. 2002. “Active Start: A Statement of Physical Activity Guidelines for Children

Birth to Five Years,” American Alliance for Health Physical Education Recreation and Dance.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 1990. Conventions of the Rights of the Child.

Shonkoff, Jack P., & Deborah A. Phillips, eds. 2000. From neurons to neighborhood: The science of early childhood development. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Zigler, Edward F., Dorothy G. Singer, Sandra Bishop-Josef, ed. 2004. Children’s play: The roots of reading. Washington, DC: ZERO TO THREE Press.

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