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               Growing and developing physically - 3 to 4 years​

At this age, your child is becoming more nimble. He is developing his physical skills through play and exploration. Your child is now able to jump, slides, swing, run and walk with better balance and agility.

He can move around independently and coordinate his bodily movements better. He is bursting with energy and enjoying the freedom and ability to move at his own pace. He will be enjoying outdoor activities and can spend hours at the playground!

He is also developing a sense of awareness about what his body can do. He will enjoy pushing his limits and exploring what he can do. Be around to supervise when he’s up and about on those playground obstacle courses. He might give the trampoline a go or explore the climbing structure. Be close enough to support him if needed, but do give him space to test his own abilities as well. 

Your child is building on these skills progressively over time and mastering self-help skills such as feeding and dressing himself and learning to go to the toilet on his own. He is able to perform tasks that require fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, like buttoning his shirt and picking up noodles with his fork.​


WHAT YOU CAN DO?  

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Play with your shadow! On a sunny day, your child can have fun with shadow play through physical movements. She can create unique shadows by changing the position of her arms and legs! Pass her additional props such as a ball or hula-hoop for more imaginative movements in the sun!
 
Shadow play

Use dough play to develop finger dexterity. Together with your child, mix 4 cups of flour to a cup of water. Add 4 tablespoons of cooking oil, a cup of salt and food colouring. Knead until it forms into a soft round dough. Let your child pound, roll, twist, and shape the dough. Store dough in a plastic container for a couple of play sessions before binning it.
 
Knead dough to build finger dexterity!

​​​Create a movement die! Using a small cuboid card board (or make your own), write and draw instructions for physical movement such as "Jump 5 times" or "Spin in a circle". Take turns with your child to roll the die and try to perform the activity that surfaces. Think of new action movement. Write them on pieces of paper and stick them on the cuboid!
 
Movement die

​​Move like animals! If your child likes to play pretend, encourage her to move around like her favourite animals. Before the activity, talk to your child about the different types of animals and discuss how they move (i.e. on four legs or two? Do they fly, slither or hop?). Then, together with your child, try to imitate the same movements! Add to the fun by matching the movements to the different genres of music!
 
Move like animals!

Make simple obstacle courses to challenge your child! Using masking tape, create a "lane" on the floor and encourage your child to move up and down the "lane" by running with feet apart, hopping on one leg, tip-toeing, etc. The possibilities are endless!
 
Make simple obstacle courses

Minimise the use of the stroller as your child is capable of long walks! Climbing, jumping, manoueuvring through natural obstacles during outdoor play, swimming or even jumping over puddles are also good activities for gross motor development.
~ Ms N. Pu​shpavalli, Princi​pal of Ramakrishna Mission Sarada Kindergarten and ECDA Fellow
 
Develop gross motor development with outdoor play!

Be mindful of developmental appropriateness. It is important to recognise the various developmental milestones of your child's motor skill development. Give time and do not force your child to master any skill of he may not be ready. For example, if your child is not ready to use a pair of scissors, forcing or showing your frustrations may only dampen his enthusiasm to attempt in the future.
~ Ms Rebecca Jaclyn Smith, Senior Programme Specialist, Learning Vision
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Be mindful of development appropriateness

Promote finger dexterity in your child!

Promote finger dexterity in your child by introducing activities which encourage children to use each finger to function on its own, separate from other hand muscle movement. Activities include poking objects like clay or dough, pressing bubble wrap, playing with finger puppets, engaging in finger play to accompanying rhymes, or even picking peas!
~ Ms Rebecca Jaclyn Smith, Senior Programme Specialist, Learning Vision
 
​Strengthen your child's small hand muscles! Engage him in activities such as grasping objects, tearing paper, manipulating clay, squeezing objects, or using a pair of child-safe sciss​​ors. These activities help develop dexterity which is necessary for your child to appropriately handle a pencil or any writing implement on paper.
~ Ms Rebecca Jaclyn Smith, Senior Programme Specialist, Learning Vision
 
Strengthen your child's small hand muscles

Develop hand-eye coordination through daily rou​tines and simple household chores. Allow your child to handle his own eating utensils, button his clothes and help out around the house by pegging and folding clothes and even helping to set the table for mealtimes.
~ Mrs Elsie Tan-Chua, Principal of Living Sanctuary Kindergarten and ECDA Fellow
 Pegging

Beginner chopsticks

Pick things up with beginner chopsticks! Start teaching your child how to pick things up using beginner chopsticks. Put items such as sponge cake and mini buns for your child to pick up and feed himself. This is a great activity to develop you child's eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills.
  

Create a mini sculpture!
 
Your child will have fun practising his fine motor skills and developing hand-eye coordination while creating a mini sculpture. Recycle or collect satay sticks, colourful buttons, big beads, plastic cups, and playdough for him to use. Put the playdough into a plastic cup to form a base and stick two to three satay sticks into it. Let your child string buttons and beads onto the satay stick and voila! An artistic creation is ready for display.
  
Mini Sculpture

Let him make his own sandwiches!

Let him make his own sandwiches. Your child will have fun spreading butter and layering his sandwich with different ingredients. This is also a great way of introducing fresh vegetables such as sliced tomatoes and cucumber into his diet. You can also give him a child-sized knife to cut his sandwiches into triangles. Watch him enjoy the sandwich he has made and praise him for a job well done!
  
Rotate your sorting tray themes. Your child will have lots of fun matching and sorting the items. With an ocean theme you could fill the tray with a toy boat, a nautically-inspired ornaments or a miniature sailor's hat. With an animal theme you could fill each section with toy animals of different colours and body patterns, such as stripes for zebras and tigers, patterns for giraffes and cows, or colour hues such as orange for orang utans, white for polar bears, grey for elephants, etc.
 
Rotate your sorting box themes

Sorting tray

Make a sorting tray and fill it up with special things. You can make a sorting tray quite easily with a big rectangular shoe box, using cardboard to create borders. Wrap it up with colourful paper or create different coloured sections using construction paper. Fill each coloured section with different items found in your household, like green buttons in the green section, red lipstick in the red section, blue paper cranes in the blue section or random things such as paper clips, erasers, cotton balls and so on. 

Play bowling at home with your child. All you need are some plastic water bottles and a ball and you're ready! You can use masking tape to mark out the lanes. Masking tape peels off easily so there's no mess after.

 
Bowling

Pick shirts or blouses with big buttons. Allow your child extra time for dressing and undressing so that he can practice his emerging skills. For a start, try letting your child do part of a skill, for example, you may begin the button through the hole and let him do the rest. Pick tops with buttons which he can button and unbutton easily. This develops your child's self-help skills, independence and fine motor skills.

 

Choose shirts and blouses

Make macaroni necklaces! Stringing macaroni pieces can be a challenging but fun activity for your child. It requires concentration and lots of determination. Begin with large macaroni that are easy to string and celebrate each successful attempt your child makes. As your child gain dexterity, mix different sizes of macaroni for more fun. Lavish him with praise and encouragement through the activity. This activity boosts his hand-eye coordination, concentration, fine motor skills and confidence.
Do some puzzles for brain development. Let your child try out a variety of puzzles. Offer a mixture of easy to challenging ones. As you figure them out together, talk about the pieces that fit together and the pictures on the puzzles. This enhances your child’s problem solving and eye-hand coordination skills.

Try block building! Your child will enjoy stacking blocks to create his own city. Ask your child what he is building – it could be a block of flats, a skyscraper, the Marina bay Sands, London Bridge, or anything he can think of. Block building is great for enhancing balancing and stacking, hand-eye coordination and imaginative play.

 
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Play hopscotch! Remember the good old days when you used chalk to drew a hopscotch grid on the ground and played the game with your friends? Well introduce it to your child now. Improvise by using masking tape to create your very own hopscotch in the comfort of your living room. Hopscotch is a fun way to develop your child’s balancing skills and coordination. ​

Build sandcastles at the beach. Bring spades, containers  and  trucks to build sandcastles. Make up a story as you go along. Ask your child “What are you building?”, “Who lives there?” and offer suggestions such as “Do you want to make a ramp for your car park?” or “Would you like to have a pond in your building?” Sand play is a great form of sensory play. It allows your child to deepen his understanding of concepts such as measurement, volume and shapes.

 
 

Create your own obstacle course at home or at the void deck. Use small hoops, pillows, cushions and cardboard boxes to create an obstacle course for crawling, hopping and balancing. At the void deck, which is a much bigger space to play in, invite the neighbours’ children to join in, cardboard boxes to create your very own obstacle course. Your child will have hours of fun going round the course. This also helps your child develop his spatial awareness, gross motor skills and sense of balance.

 

 
 
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Play ball! Important life skills can be learnt through a simple game of ball. You can teach your child about turn-taking by kicking the ball to him and having him kick it back to you, then waiting for you to kick it back to him. You can also teach your child about teamwork and sportsmanship in a game with other children and parents. Remind him that winning is not everything – it’s the process, not the destination that counts.

 

 
 
 

Go to the playground. Choose a park which offers child-friendly obstacle courses, such as balance beams, climbing towers, see-saws and slides. Supervise your child over these obstacles and offer support or a hand to hold onto whenever needed. Use words of encouragement to help your child get across successfully. At this age, children are more competent in walking, running and balancing but they still require your supervision to ensure their safety. These activities will help your child develop his agility and dexterity.   

 

 
 

Play ‘Simon Says’. This will not only help your child develop a sense of body awareness, it also cultivates listening and comprehension skills in understanding and following instructions. For example, “Simon says, balance on one foot” or “Simon says, hop three steps to the right”. Playing ‘Simon says’ with your child is fun and engaging as your child attempts to complete the tasks that Simon has given him. Be mindful of what your child can and cannot perform and always set your child up for success. This will boost his confidence as he progresses to more challenging tasks.  

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Go cycling! You can bring your child to the park or the neighbourhood to try out his tricycle. When he becomes better at pedalling, you can progress to cycling in the parks. Emphasise the importance of watching out for other vehicles and pedestrians.

 

Water play in your bathroom! Fill the bath tub with rubber ducks, cylinders, containers, tubes, and you’re ready for water play. Your child will love sitting inside the tub and pouring water from one container to another. Use containers of different shapes and sizes so your child can learn about size, volume and shapes while pouring and splashing. Talk about the items in the tub, on what floats and sinks, the shapes and sizes, how swallow or deep the containers are.

 

Go swimming! Put on arm floats for your child and she's ready to swim! Water play is fun and therapeutic for young children as it allows them to splash, kick and defy gravity. Never leave your child unattended at the pool or seaside.  

 

 
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