Ages 2-3 Years

Following are information, activities and resource links for the five main areas of development for children ages 2-3 years old. Download a print-friendly version of this page >

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Communication Skills

  • Putting 2-3 words together and longer utterances as they become older
  • Can answer simple questions
  • Uses names of objects, actions, persons
  • Understands simple directions
  • Asks simple questions
  • Understands simple prepositions (on, in)

Fine Motor Skills

  • Copies a circle and a cross
  • Strings four large beads
  • Turns page in a book
  • Snips with scissors on a line
  • Buttons and unbuttons large buttons

Gross Motor Skills

  • Kicks ball
  • Runs well
  • Climbs onto/down from furniture unassisted
  • Walks up/down stairs using alternate feet
  • Balances on one foot for 5 seconds
  • Rides tricycle

Personal Social Skills

  • Takes turns in games
  • Begins to dress/undress self
  • Shows preferences about toys/food
  • May have rapid changes in mood
  • Enjoys watching/playing with other children
  • Aware they are a boy or girl

Problem Solving Skills: 3-4 years

  • Engages in elaborate pretend play
  • Experiments with cause and effect in play
  • Understands basic concepts like tallest, biggest, same, more, etc
  • Asks who, what, where, and why questions
  • Understands more complex words like time words (yesterday, tomorrow) and words to describe emotions (happy, disappointed)

Communication Activities

  • Read books with simple stories
  • Sing familiar songs
  • Use a variety of words: nouns (tree, Mommy), verbs (jump, sit), adjectives (big, wet), prepositions (in, under)
  • Make puppets and create a short story
  • Have your child follow more specific directions (Bring me the RED sock)
  • Talk about how objects are used and ask your child to tell you how they are used

Fine Motor Activities

  • Encourage play with puzzles, blocks, nesting toys and drawing materials
  • Show your child how to draw shapes such as circles, lines, faces and stick figures
  • Give your child an empty egg carton to use for “pockets” and have the child sort things such as different kinds of buttons, colors etc.
  • Encourage cutting, using child safety scissors
  • Sewing cards
  • Finger painting

Gross Motor Activities

  • Encourage climbing, running, jumping and balancing
  • Have your child play “follow the leader” and crawl, tiptoe, bunny hop, under tables, around chairs, etc.
  • Show your child how to bounce a large ball to you then bounce the ball back so he/she can catch it
  • Show your child how to “walk a tightrope” using a line on the driveway
  • Show your child how to play games like ring toss or dropping clothes pins into juice cans

Personal Social Activities

  • Sort objects by color, shape, etc.
  • Help your child “write” his own book by writing his words while he or she draws the pictures
  • Teach the words; on, under, behind, around by playing games like Simon Says
  • Provide a “dress-up” box for your child for imaginative play
  • Read daily to your child

Personal Social Activities: 3-4 years

  • Teach your child to count and recognize the numbers one to ten
  • Conduct simple science experiments
  • Play memory games
  • Compare objects of differing size and weight
  • Cut objects into fractions of ½, ¼ etc
  • Read daily to your child

Problem Solving Activities

  • Sort objects by color, shape etc
  • Help your child “write” his own book by writing his words while he or she draws the pictures
  • Teach the words; on, under, behind, around by playing games like Simon Says
  • Provide a “dress-up” box for your child for imaginative play
  • Read daily to your child

Problem Solving Activities: 3-4 years

  • Teach your child to count and recognize the numbers 1-10
  • Conduct simple science experiments
  • Play the memory game
  • Compare objects of differing size and weight
  • Cut objects into fractions of ½, ¼ etc.
  • Read daily to your child
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