Early development skills are some of the most important things you can impart to your child. While children naturally assimilate the language, behavior, and spatial awareness only through observation, parent and sibling modeling is extremely important in refining these patterns within your child’s mind.

Children learn and connect to this world through play. Here are three fun ways your children can learn life skills and play at the same time.

Measuring Cups

If you have a well-behaved child, baking is an excellent way to teach counting, addition, and even basic fraction skills. Measure out all of your ingredients that need to go in the bowl, and then count with your child just how many cups you dump in together. As time goes on, you can even start having them measure out with you as well.

The Junk Box

This is a fun exercise that can also identify the names, sizes, and colors of objects. Essentially, take a box–a plastic container usually works best–and throw in a bunch of random kid-appropriate items—toys, big buttons, shoestrings, foam shapes, plastic jewels, seashells, etc. Then, layout a mat for your child to sort these items on. You can direct them to sort by item type, size, color, or you can let them have free reign and see how they choose to sort their items. Then you can ask them to follow up questions like, “Why did you sort this way?” “How many ________ are there?” “Let’s do it again! Sort them by ______ this time!”

It’s a fun way to get them counting but also build their language skills.

Your kids will also be thrilled to have some new toys to play with.

Lego Counting

This one is simple. Take a box of stackable legos and write numbers on them. Have your child build a tower in order of the numbers. As an added challenge, you can have your child build towers counting by 2s, 3s, 4s, or 5s, to practice their early multiplication skills.

If you want to work on color recognition simultaneously, you can choose to do all evens one color and all odds in another. Then you can have multiple towers going at a time, and your child will be very quickly learning different ways to sort and identify.