If you're a parent of a toddler during the pandemic, odds are your kids have made friends with the friendly neighborhood tiger called Daniel. It's a pleasant escape from the fire-rescue and super-hero saving content of Paw Patrol and PJ Mask! (Bit if this is all new to you, you can catch an episode of Daniel Tiger on PBS kids channel).
We love the educational intention of the shows and how they teach our children lessons in kindness and handling big emotions. Our favorites episodes are with Teacher Harriet showing the class their garden and learning about vegetables and Prince Wednesday learning to use the potty.
And so when our toddler asked to extend the show into dramatic playtime, we were all-in!
What we bought
While we always try and use the items we have around the house, for this activity we decided to buy a few figurines of Daniel and his family. We use these for imaginative play in so many other ways, so they are a pretty great choice if you're looking for versatility in store-bought toys.
- Daniel Tiger Family Figures ($19.99)
- Neighborhood Trolley ($29.99) We also bought this automatic trolley and it's been a HUGE hit. The trolley moves back and forth on its own. To be honest, I thought I was buying something different. I thought it was much smaller like the figures and I also didn't realize it was motorized, but both mistakes have turned out to be very fun surprises.
We have found so many ways to utilize these figures for play at home. We have built them homes from items around the house, taken them on trips and nature walks, and created thousands of storylines and scenes of what they may be doing together. From role playing school, to going to the doctor, these little figures have done it all.
But as my toddler became older, she became interested in creating and owning her own checklists for games. So I took a few moments to create this simple PDF that you can use to play a game we call "Daniel Tiger Roll Call".
How to play:
- Download this FREE PDF of the Daniel Tiger Family and friends and print it out
- Give your toddler the paper along with a pencil or marker. While they won't be able to read the text of the names, they will be able to identify the character from the image alone.
- Once the figure's name is called, they can say, "Here" and 'walk' up to your toddler to get in line
- Keep this going allowing your toddler to take the lead in how they want to call their roll. Begin showing them how to make a circle or check mark next to the characters as they are called.
- Have fun with the game and allow certain characters to be sick, on vacation, or not at school that day.
Why it matters:
Imaginative play is such an important part of healthy toddler development. It not only allows them to build on things like communication and speech as you play together, but it enables them to learn emotionally as well. Your toddler will often mimic the experiences and world around them that will allow them to process their emotions, express themselves, and better understand their relationships.
Engaging in play together can help increase your child's creativity and ability to play independently, which is a big step in their development. They are also able to run scenarios in their mind to help them work on problem-solving and see how different choices that they (or their characters) make end up for them.
A Totally-FREE playtime
For parents that don't want to spend money on figurines, we can extend this PDF into a simple matching game with little extra work. Simply print 2 copies of this Daniel Tiger or Paw Patrol PDF and then cut each character out into squares.
How-To Memory Game
- Turn the printed and cut squares over on the floor in front of your toddler
- Take turns choosing two squares and reveal their characters.
- After you turn over two squares if they are a match then you get to go again!
- If not, then you will return the squares to the floor and change turns.
- The game is over once all of the matches have been found
Did you have a chance to play these games with your toddler? Let us know what they liked best in the comments below.
Please note: This game and/or blog post is in no way sponsored, administered, or associated with PBS, Daniel Tiger, or Paw Patrol/Spin Master Entertainment. Items above may contain Amazon affiliate links. Purchasing directly from these referral links helps support the Curious Baby Blog and costs nothing to you.