Monday, March 23, 2020

10 Best Play Ideas For When Kids Are Stuck At Home ♥

A child playing with a toy kitchen in a playhouse
Having to keep the kids stuck at home can be hard for everybody, so, finding ways to keep them entertained and able to play happily while they're at home is a big must!

Melissa & Doug, makers of lovely fun and educational toys for kids, have shared these 10 best play ideas for when kids are stuck at home and hopefully they'll give you some inspiration on how to keep the kids entertained and yourself sane for however long they have to be at home.

If you want some great toys or things to keep the kids entertained with these play ideas, Melissa & Doug have a great range of toys that can heighten their play experience and that stand the test of time too.

My boys have lots of Melissa & Doug toys, all wooden, and not only are they gorgeous to have on display, they're sturdy for lots of playtime fun and most importantly, they love them.

Here are the 10 best play ideas for when kids are stuck at home:

Two children on a slide in the snow

🍂Nurture a Love of Nature

Spring is here so take a walk in a nearby park, around the block, have a nature treasure hunt in your garden or stare out the window. Notice the smallest things — which trees have buds? What colour are they? Which ones seem to be coming out first?

Spending time in nature can be restorative for the whole family and is great for getting some much needed fresh air too!

😟Use Play as a Way to Process Big Feelings

Kids pick up on our emotions, tense conversations, and nonverbal signs of stress — which can increase their stress too.

Think of ways your child could safely channel some of those feelings into rough-and-tumble play (chasing you or wrestling with you); imaginative play (my sons love to play kitchens and restaurants); or role playing (my eldest boy love to pretend to be a fireman) to help them feel in charge.

Stress can make us feel powerless, so use play to give back some of that feeling of power to your kids.

⏲️Set Realistic Tech Time Limits

When tech time is over, schedule something interesting right after so they have an easier time transitioning. If they can turn off the TV or tablet themselves without whining, praise them for amazing tech self-control!

Children in a teepee reading

📚 Reading Zones

If you have a toddler or preschool-aged child who isn’t reading independently yet, then set up a little “reading zone” in your home - add a few pillows or stuffed animals and encourage kids to pretend to run their own library or school.

🗺️ Give Kids a Mission

Challenge your children to invent their own little world! Have them create a bookstore, vets office, beauty salon, or space station in their bedroom.

Make guidelines for what materials can be used and encourage creative uses of blankets, stuffed animals, or construction paper. Then have them give you a tour!

Arts and crafts and a book on a table

🧒🏻Provide Play Prompters

One of the appealing things about simple apps and digital games is that they often tell the child what to do next (so parents don’t have to!). This keeps the child’s attention but doesn’t challenge them to figure out their own play plan.

To create “just enough” structure to give your child freedom to do what they want, try this. Set up your child’s room so there are different baskets, buckets, or areas featuring different play themes: a dress-up box, a building zone, a creativity corner with art supplies, and so on.

Explain to your child that they are in charge or deciding when, what, and how they want to play — without needing a parent (or app) to prompt them every time!

🧸Hide Toys Around the House

Find a group of toys your child loves — mini dinosaurs, animal figurines, action figures — and hide them in funny places around the house (not the toilet, please!).

🤡Get Silly and Embrace the Nonsense

Sometimes creating ideas out of nothing — even when the ideas seem like nonsense — is the best way to cope! For example, my family took a walk in a city park last weekend, and as my husband and I talked about how we will plan if schools are closed, my kids were running ahead.

Suddenly a game of throwing someone’s balled-up jacket started. It was amazing how letting go of control, using our bodies, and laughing instantly relieved the tension in my head!

Child playing outside a playhouse
🧦Make Chores Fun
Working from home, you probably will still need to do some household chores like cooking or washing. Many children will resist helping out if we use “demand language” (“It’s time do this . . .” “You have to do that…”) and are more receptive if you make it playful.

For example, pretend to be on your favorite cooking show, talking about your ingredients or your family’s heritage while you cook. Write out the recipe (even for something basic like their favourite sandwiches), and have your child get the ingredients and decide what’s next — after washing their hands!

A little mess is OK in exchange for the pride your child feels for making something.

For housework, play upon their competitive spirit (“Let’s see how many socks you can match in 2 minutes!” “I bet you can’t sweep that whole hallway!”) Young children often love to be “helpers,” so act like you’re training them (“I’m going to teach you the secret of making beds!”) and accept their imperfect, messy help.

Older kids might like the challenge of being in charge of making lunch for the whole family, writing out a menu of options, and taking orders. Just be accepting if the end product is a little sloppy 🙂

💙Build on What Absorbs Your Child’s Attention

Some children love pretending to sweep, some love taking apart old electronics, some will draw and scribble for an hour. Try to identify what types of hands-on activities keep your child’s attention for 20 minutes or more, and give them opportunities to do those things near you while you work.

I hope these play ideas have given you some inspiration for setting up some fun play or activity time for your kids while they're stuck at home.

If you'd like to try some seasonal play activities with your children, check out my list of 40 spring and summer seasonal activities for kids.

Child playing house

Child pretending to hang up washing

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