If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen a few of my play ideas pop up on my stories every so often. If you don’t head over and check my play ideas as I’m always updating with new things we do together to play.
Being in isolation at the moment one thing is on every parents mind… How can I keep my child entertained? And the answer is simple. Just spend time with them. Get to their level to the best you can and play with them. For you parents that may at times struggle with mobility bring the games and toys to you at the sofa or on the kitchen table. For more able bodied mums and dads get on the floor as much as you possibly can and get stuck in and play with them. A child learns best from engagement with parents/caregivers and it can be anything from talking or actively encouraging learning though play and spending the time teaching that benefits them the most. All children are different and learn different ways so what may suit my child might not suit yours but if your child and you enjoy something I do that is good enough for me!
Get yourself down to or online to a craft store. Order the basics of crayons, paints, paintbrushes, paper and glue. Modelling dough or play doh is great fun too or you can make your own!Anything else you want to try is a bonus too! You can make so many things yourself to engage play with your little one. I like to make our own games and activity’s by drawing and cutting things myself and helping Elijah play games or colouring in what I’ve done earlier for him. Colouring books and sticker books are great for lone playing this teaches them independence while they learn. Reusable sticker books are great as you can make a scene and reuse them. Normal stickers are great too as these can be saved for reward charts too! Also if your buying anything I recommend a tuff tray for tidy messy play indoors.
Online resources. Look about online I am always finding free to print resources which I use to help teach Elijah things. Such as colouring and activity sheets. Many children’s centres and online community’s regularly share ideas of fun and interactive play ideas too! Some kids tablets have great educational apps to if that’s something your interested in too!
Emotions. Learning about emotions is important for all ages and something I am currently teaching Elijah now. We like to pull faces and talk about the emotions we may be feeling and also explain our emotions throughout the day so that Elijah can learn to communicate his emotions more accurately as he gets older instead of constant meltdowns. We also printed out some activity sheets of emotions on animals. We play a game by matching the emotion and using a peg to find the match. We talk through the emotions as we play this and ask questions like why may he feel like this and so forth and what makes you happy?
Reuse recyclables. Clean down old plastics and you can reuse them for craft. Keep your paper tube toilet rolls, plastic bottles and bottle caps and make something new! Tubes can become animals or a slide for toys. Keep bottles to make future toys or sensory bottles! I will be making some next time I get a bottle to give to friends with babies! Bottle caps (plastic) make great counters to teach counting or playing noughts and crosses. Keep boxes to make castles or hiding places, the possibility’s are endless!
Jelly play. Using jelly make a sensory explosion by following the instructions on the packet place some toys or objects in jelly as your about to leave to cool in fridge and in a few hours your ready to play. It helps to have a theme like dinosaurs or animals. Ask about the textures and let them go nuts they’ll enjoy fishing for there toys and the weird textures and colours of the jelly!
Sand play. A bag of sand goes a long way! Let little one explore a box filled with sand and let them feel and burry toys. Pop some toy diggers or hide some animals/dinosaurs in the sand for them to find. If you prefer less mess you could get some kinetic sand and recreate the play indoors. Although a bit less messy it still is with its mess!
Balloons. Always handy to keep balloons left over from party’s. You can blow them up and put words and numbers on to teach them whilst allowing to play with the balloons. Also gets rid of energy for some calm after.
Magnetic numbers and letters. Or cubes. These can teach a whole host of things from spelling to just learning to read and count. They can also be fun making figing games using a beer bottle opener on a bit of string or a magnetic fishing line if you have a toy one. You can also play with magnets putting them on white boards, cold radiators/ side of stair gates and the fridge.
Water play. Elijah loves our water table and if you don’t have one there’s so much you can use to have water play. You can use your washing up bowl and put toys in with sand dish soap and a sponge so your kids can wash their toys. You can fill a tubberwear box with water and put some toys or saucepans in and let them play. You can colour water with water paint and also fill a watering can and teach them to care for their garden.
Playing with food. Maybe when the pandemic is over you can cook and using food colouring, colour spaghetti for messy play from 6 months up. Kids love it and they can eat it. You can also dye rice and normal pasta for sensory play. You can set up toys with food or just let them explore with their hands. You can also make a beautiful piece of art using the food too if not cooked.
Painting pebbles or bits from the garden. You can paint pebbles collected from beaches and this is fun for all ages. Collect things from walks and use them in your play and arts and crafts I’ve collected flowers, leaves, twigs and conkers and used them for learning and play. You can also chalk on the pavements outside the house to create art. My brothers who are teenagers seemed to like this to😂
Get your toddler involved in the housework. You’d be surprised how much they like wiping, dusting, sweeping and hoovering. Give them little tasks of their own like making their bed every day and tidying up their toys. Not only are they learning about keeping their house tidy they can have fun doing it if you make a game out of it and don’t make it feel like a chore!
Set up there toys in a theme. Separate animals according to where they live in the world and make it a play session. Pre arrange a theme or selection of toys that haven’t been played with in a while and they treat these as new toys.
Cook with them! Make cakes and sweet treats but also get them to help you in the kitchen as much as they can using blunt utensils. Even if it’s just a stir here and there or helping put things in a bowl. It can make them feel important while also learning food doesn’t magically appear in front of them. You can talk about what your cooking and what steps you take and talk about they’re role in the kitchen too. You can buy little steps to help them reach to kitchen surfaces too if you want to let them help butter toast or something in the kitchen!
I hope you’ve enjoyed some of my suggestions any questions just drop a dm or comment. Check my Instagram stories and highlights for more ideas as they come to me. Stay safe and be happy!