He Kēmu mō te Pēpi (0-2 Years)

These early years set the foundation for language development later on.  Language development is connected with emotional development, too - so spending time developing pēpi's language skills also strengthens their feelings of love and attachment to you. Most one year olds communicate well without words by using sounds and gestures.  They understand simple things said to them like He inu māu? (Would you like a drink?).  At this age, aim to play games that introduce new words to your tamaiti, allow for lots of talking together, and most importantly.....have fun while you play!




Make-believe is a fantastic way to encourage your tamaiti to think creatively.  Puppets can help to bring alive a story - even better if you and your tamaiti have made them out of old socks!

Some story ideas to help you get started:

  • tamariki love stories about themselves, their friends, their whānau, and places that they go to

  • you could start off with a sentence, and ask your tamaiti to finish the story

  • stories about taniwha, Rangi and Papa, and the mischievous Māui are all-time favourites, too.

He kupu āwhina:

  • Ka pēhea mēnā ka kōrero paki tāua? What say we tell stories together?

  • I ngā rā o mua ... in days past/long ago......

  • I nanahi... yesterday

  • Ko te mea pai rawa atu o te ao ki a au, ko te .... the best thing in the world to me is.....

  • He pēhea ōu whakaaro? What do you think?

  • Kei te maumahara au ki tō whānautanga mai! He rangi .... I remember when you were born! It was a ..... day........

Panga / Puzzles, Jigsaws


Children love to solve puzzles. Jigsaws that have been made for small children often feature just a picture - that means that you can probably use jigsaws that you already have at home and not be distracted by English words!

If you have a toy library in your area, it's worth visiting to see what types of puzzles you can borrow or hire for a short time.  Contact your local Plunket or kōhanga reo to find out where your closest toy library is.

You could also try sharing puzzles with your friends - a cheap way to keep a good flow of new equipment for you and pēpi to play with.

He kupu āwhina:

  • Anei he wāhanga māu. Here's a piece for you.

  • Titiro! Kei te noho anga whakararo te mata. Look! It's facing down (towards the table).

  • Ko te āhua nei, kei te hē te aronga. It looks like it's sitting wrong.

  • Hurihia tēnā. Turn that around.

  • Nekehia ki te taha mauī. Move it to the left.

  • Nekehia ki te matau. Move it to the right.

  • Āna! Kei te tika tāu!  That's it. You are right!



This is a game for people of all ages, 0-100! While you can introduce this game to pēpi at a young age, don't expect much interaction until he is a little older.

This game is a great way to keep your whole whānau entertained when going on a long car trip.  To play, ask each person to name an object (aim for around five things). The objects must all be outside of the car.  For example, you may have: a red roof he tuanui whero, a horse he hōiho, a blue car he waka kikorangi, a green letterbox he pouaka reta kākāriki, and a bird he manu.  It is a race to see who can spot the object first and gain a point - the person with the most points, wins! There are lots of variations to this game, so make up a version that suits your whānau.

He kupu āwhina:

  • Whiriwhiria he mea hei kimi mā tātou. Choose an object to look for.

  • Whare House or building

  • Taiapa Fence

  • Kararehe (animal) manu (bird), kau (cow), hipi (sheep), nanekoti (goat)

  • Kua riro i a koe he māka/ Kotahi te whiwhinga ki a koe you've gained a point

  • Ko wai ka toa? Who will win?

  • I toa ko [ingoa]! [name] won!