Learning left and right is something that starts at a young age; it’s a practical life skill kids need to understand. It’s easy to make it part of your everyday life, but you also can try playing some games for left and right understanding.
Games are one of my favorite ways to teach kids important skills they need to know. Kids learn best when they have less pressure, and playing is learning for our little kids.
Left vs. right is a hard concept for some kids, integrating visual and sensory information. It also requires memory and language recognition, just like learning letters and shapes take time!
Believe it or not, this skill is hard for some kids, especially if they have dyslexia or dysgraphia. However, you can still make learning this concept fun by playing different games for left and right.
Related: Shaving Cream Writing: A Fun Learning Activity
At What Age Does a Child Learn Left and Right?
Typically, kids distinguish left vs. right between five and six years of age. It’s not uncommon for kids to struggle until they are in 1st or 2nd grade, and learning or attention problems lead to further troubles distinguishing left from right.
However, it’s best to start teaching this earlier, and use it in your regular everyday life.
Left and right are abstract concepts; your arms are tangible, but the idea of left varies.
Your left is someone else’s right!
So, it’s best to work on these concepts over a period of years.
How Can You Help Your Child Learn Left vs. Right?
Once you determine which hand is your child’s dominant hand, you can work on left and right discrimination. This process takes time, typically years, to fully grasp the concepts.
- Point out when your child uses his right or left hand. “You grabbed the spoon with your right hand.”
- Put a stamp on your child’s hands to help him tell the difference.
- Do the Hokey Pokey and focus on one side of the body; this is great for when your child learns all about his body.
- Play some different games for left and right to work on fun ways to memorize the difference.
- Start dressing with his dominant side. “Put your right leg into your pants.”
- Ask to hold a specific hand when crossing the street together.
- Sort objects together and ask your child to put different colors on each side of his body.
These are just a fun ideas; you can find so many more. Be creative since left and right come in regularly in conversation or throughout the day.
Related: 8 Ideas for Teaching Body Parts to Toddlers
7 Games for Left and Right
1. Left and Right Fancy Footwork
This is one of the games for left and right your kids will love, but it takes some prep work! It’s an engaging and motivating game for kids to play.
The first thing you have to do is make your footprint shapes; try tracing sandals to make templates. Cut them out of colored cardstock, and they’ll hold up best if you laminate them as well. Before laminating, write left or right on each foot.
It’s best to stick these on the floor with masking tape or painters tape; hopping on them will cause them to move otherwise.
You can see full directions at Childhood 101.
2. Tapping Game
Here is one of the simple games for left and right.
Stand behind your child and tap their right arm, saying “this is your right arm.” Then, repeat this with their left side.
Continue with their ears, legs, shoulders, eyes, and so until your child says the part of their body you tapped. Make it silly, smiling and being goofy.
Wait until your child identifies several right and left side body parts before stopping.
3. Play Right Turn, Left Turn
Right Turn, Left Turn is a fun game for kids 6+, but I think you could use it for younger ages. It’s a fun game to build awareness of right vs. left.
Players follow directions from a traffic officers by matching a symbol given on their direction card. Sometimes, they’ll go left or right. The challenge is determining which way is left or right based on the officer’s point of view.
This game is best for two to eight players, and it’s compact, so you can take it on the go with you.
4. Sticker Activity for Left & Right Shoes
One thing that always trips up kids is learning the difference between left and right shoes. This is one reasons playing games for left and right is important; they need to learn which shoe goes on each foot.
One way to teach kids this is with a sticker activity.
You can put different colored stickers in each shoe.
- Red = left
- Blue = right
Then, hide the shoes and have your child figure out which foot it belongs. Do this with all of their shoes. It may seem simple, but kids respond to these simple little games.
Another option is to take a single symmetrical sticker, like a circle, heart or square, and cut it in half. Then, put each half in the correct shoe, so when the shoes are in the proper placement, the sticker looks whole.
5. Left Center Right
Here’s a fun pocket-sized game called Left Center Right; your parents might have played this years ago! It comes with three dice and yellow chips in a little tube.
Everyone has three chips at the start, and you roll all three dice when its your turn. Then, you do whatever the dice tell you to do; each one has a different direction attached to them.
The games end when one person is left with chips. This is definitely one of the best pre-made games for left and right. Even though its intentions weren’t to teach kids right vs left, it truly works for that!
6. Left and Right: Cover It Board Game
Learning right and left is tricky, and this printable game helps kids learn the difference. It uses a simple and fun game with wristbands to show your child how to know which side is what.
The top of the board has a spinning finger that points on the board game. Your child has to cover one of the dots on either the left or right side; make sure your child says the words left or right the they decide which way the finger is pointing.
Grab the free printable from Liz’s Early Learning Spot.
7. Play Simon Says
I don’t know any kids who don’t go crazy for a good game of Simon says. Once your child has a basic understanding of left vs right, play Simon says to reinforce what they learned.
Here are some things you can have your child do.
- Flap your right arm
- Shake your left arm
- Tap your left foot
- Shake your right foot
- Lift your right left
- Grab your left elbow
- Stomp your left foot
- Wiggle your right hand
- Touch your left eye
- Grab your right ear
You can even do things like jump to the right or move to the left. Use directions throughout the game to add more challenge. Here are some printable activities for learning left and right, as well.
Playing games for left and right is a great way for your kids to practice distinguishing the differences. Kids love learning through fun, and these are awesome options!