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How to Play Peek-a-boo

Infants and young toddlers are attracted to games like peek-a-boo from an early age. It allows them to socially interact with adults while learning about object permanence. This game also allows for children to develop their sense of humor and some gross motor skills. There are many ways to play this age old game, so we will explore a few variations here.

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Play a game of peek-a-boo to foster social and gross motor development

A good old game of peek-a-boo does a lot for an infant. It teaches them the beginning skill of object permanence- that even though they can’t see your eyes, nose, and mouth, they are still in fact there. This timeless game also helps infants to use their arms and hands to bring them up to their face to mimic the adult in the game. This also allows for adults to do something a little silly and fun with the infant and bringing out little glimpses of humor in the child. There are no materials needed for the traditional game, although there are electronic toys on the market that play peek-a-boo with children as well as books and puzzles that incorporate the same principles.

In addition to the skills learned from this game, it also serves as a great “distraction” tool for when infants are tired, cranky, and upset. If you play this game with an upbeat voice, infants will get distracted from their sadness and join in, often cheering them up!


For this peek-a-boo game you will need:


Peek-a-boo books with flaps to lift

Puzzles with flaps to lift to reveal faces or animals

Learning Outcomes




Object permanence


Mirroring adult actions Responding with facial expressions and noises Lifting adults’ hands to reveal face


Step 1:

When one-on-one with an infant or in a very small group, sit face to face or with child on your lap facing you.

Step 2:

Cover your face with both hands and say “Peek-a-...” and then reveal your face and say, “boo!” (you can say it in a silly voice, soft voice, etc.)

Step 3:

The baby will usually react by giggling or covering her face to show she is meeting some objectives.

Step 4:

Show students a mirror ( can be handheld or on the wall).

Step 5:

Encourage child to play peek-a-boo with his reflection.

Step 6:

Have various books and puzzles near the mirror and show the infants and toddlers how to do peek-a-book with these materials. When revealing the puzzle piece flap or when lifting the flap in the book, say, “Peek-a-boo” so that it prompts prior knowledge of the game played earlier.

Playful Questions

What parts of my face are being covered when I play peek-a-boo?

What makes me giggle?

What animals like to hide?

Where is my favorite hiding place?

What games do I love to play?

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