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This game will help your child build associations. The goal is to match the object -- say, the cherry -- with the plain square of the same color. Fruit and square aren’t identical but share the quality of “redness.” Discovering these relationships develops abstract thinking, essential to learning. Make ten objects that are familiar and iconic (fruits, animals, vehicles) plus colored squares, and join them on a ring.

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To solve the mystery posed by a puzzle made of blocks, kids must investigate relationships between shapes and colors. Puzzle blocks help children build thinking skills and are easy for parents to make with paint and stencils. Add a heart to one side of a grouping of blocks; then flip them around and add a star, circle, or flower in different colors to others. As your preschooler rotates and examines the blocks, she’ll build associations between color and form. You needn’t wait until she’s a toddler to make these; starting in infancy, she’ll enjoy the look and feel of the pretty wooden cubes.