Finding activities for your children to do while you wear your BIZHAT on can be a full time job in itself. So, today, Im sharing 12 of our favourite play ideas along with some organisational tips that work at //celebrateplay// HQ to help create independent learners, increase productivity, spend time with the little ones and feel a sense of accomplishment through a mix of independent and group activities.
1. FLOUR-FILLED BALLOONS-this activity requires some preparation so it is best made ahead of time. To make your very own head on over to http://www.thechaosandtheclutter.com/archives/2416 .
2.PIPECLEANER FUN-Pipe cleaners are a great resource to have on hand-they are fairly inexpensive, come in a range of colours, shapes and sizes and incredibly versatile. Here are 11 activities to create with pipe cleaners http://www.kidspot.com.au/things-to-do/galleries/craft-ideas/11-fun-things-to-make-with-pipe-cleaners. This activity is great during quiet time.
3. MAZES-can simply be printed at home, store bought or bought online. We recently purchased a Usborne Maze Pad and it is amazing, allowing for both independent, one on one and group play. 0. TABLE CUBBY-There are so many wonderful places within the home that lend themselves to imaginative play. One of our favourites is a table cubby house.
To make yours simply:
• Find blankets within the home or purchase a table cubby (we love ours which was made by @Imagine 4 Kids) and throw over your dining table or lounges to create a cubby.
• Let the children bring their favourite toys with them and all eat morning tea/lunch/afternoon tea inside the cubby.
• Be sure to take some pics as they will be great as a talking point through the day and over the next few days and again in the years to come as your child/ren grow up and reminisce. To extend the play for a longer period of time, video the play and watch the video after.
MODIFICATION IDEA- if you have a newborn in your home, include them in this activity by nursing them in the cubby, feeding and talking to them about the play that is taking place.
4. PUPPET SHOW-This is one of our family favourites.
To create your puppet show you need:
•small selection of puppets (hand and finger puppets being the most common).
•a curtain, dining table or cut out as the theatre screen.
•a storyline to dramatise (could be a made up story, family story or a popular children’s story).
•Introduce the characters onto the stage, be the audience and applaud between scenes or at the end. EXTENSION IDEA –Create your own puppets using recycled materials. Eg. Toilet paper rolls, felt pieces, fabric.
•Make theatre food and tickets for an extra element of fun.
5. STICKERS-Stickers are a versatile resource to have in the home from play to incentive charts.
To make yours simply:
•Purchase office supply plain stickers (found in our local discount store or stationery store).
•Provide children with stickers or gel pens to create their own images on the stickers.
•Discuss what drawings have been created
•Provide children with paper to stick the stickers on
•Hang up in their art gallery
6. LAUNDRY BASKET-laundry baskets are one of the most versatile and budget friendly play resources to have in the home. Check out these play ideas https://www.nappycakesbyerin.com.au/single-post/2017/04/11/10-DIFFERENT-WAYS-TO-USE-A-LAUNDRY-BASKET-FOR-PLAY
7. BLOCKS-building is an activity that requires imagination, creativity, patience, problem solving and hand/eye coordination. Places such as horse stables, farms, castles, cityscapes and towers can be a world of endless fun. Accompany the blocks with some figurines for an added dimension of play.
8. SCAVENGER/TREASURE HUNT– (for a simple version children find hidden items and for older children create clues that they can read and follow). Ideas of what to hide (food items, Pom poms, rocks, interest based gifts). EXTENSION IDEA-for older children consider a scavenger hunt that takes them from location to location outside the home environment eg. Shopping centre, movies, theme park, museum etc. HANDY HINT-create a theme and build the ideas, clues and treasures from there. eg. summer fun, winter wonderland, autumn fall and spring sprung.
9. OBSTACLE COURSE MINI OLYMPICS (indoors and/or outdoors, suited for mixed ages and genders). Last year we watched the Rio Olympics and loved it so much we created our own mini Olympics.
Here is how we did it:
•Collect any game materials you may already have at home that will lend itself to a challenge (eg. Quoits, bean bags, whistles, bubble wands, cushions, sporting equipment, balls, eggs and spoons, toilet roll batons, weights, hurdles).
•Set up a few different stations with a variety of activities in a circle or row. Demonstrate and/or explain how to complete each activity and that each child will proceed in the same direction but will have a staggered start. (For those that ask why a staggered start…the main reason is so each child is having a turn at something simultaneously and not waiting too long for their turn).
•For a larger group of children allocate each child a specific role (eg. Athlete, commentator, spectator, judge and tv presenter). You may create props with their roles on it, or write it on their hand or ask that they remember. Once the roles are established, children will rotate in these roles so they each have a turn.
•For a smaller group of children, each child can be an athlete and the parent can be the commentator or judge.
•Children continue moving their way through the activities for a designated time (you may wish to use a timer or stopwatch or you may go with your mummy instinct as to how much time your children need to complete an activity).
•Once children have finished the obstacle course, conduct a medal ceremony (pretend medals or a token prize of some description ( you may choose store bought plastic medals for authenticity or a food reward or something else).
EXTENSION IDEA-interview each child about how they felt about their performance and would they be back again for the next Olympics? What training can we expect to see them doing in the future etc MODIFICATION-for those with newborns they can be involved through baby wearing and spectating. Be sure to include them in the commentary. Baby ABC the youngest sibling of athlete aka child XYZ is in the audience cheering them on. One day in the future we might have siblings competing against each other. TIP-film your child/children participating in the event and create a movie (recommend Imovie for the apple users-something your older children may enjoy doing). You may choose to make copies on DVD’s to give as gifts to family. They would make the ideal gift for grandparents.
10. CARDBOARD BOX DRIVE INS- Most children love screen time. One way to spice up their movie time is by creating a pretend drive in experience with cardboard box cars, drinks, popcorn and treats. This activity will work for both a small and large large group of children. This is a winner when hosting a play date.
To make yours simply:
•Paint a large cardboard box in chosen colour. Allow to dry.
•To make the tyres, use four black plastic or paper plates. Place a circular sticker in the middle of each tyre. •Using a screwdriver, pierce a hole through the sticker.
•Line up the tyre and make hole through the box in designated tyre spots.
•Insert a split pin into the tyre and fasten it to the box. Create four tyres.
•Turn the box upside down and fold the two longer sides inside the box. Secure with packing tape.
•Leave the two shorter sides loose.
•Fold one of the shorter sides in half lengthways. This side will create the windshield.
•Lift the opposite short side as is. This will create a spoiler for the car.
•Make a hole each side of the windscreen and spoiler. Thread some ribbon or string through to create shoulder straps.
•Add decorations and accessories to the car eg. Yellow paper headlights, rego plate to the rear, badge on the back.
•Place the cars in front of the TV, pop on a movie and children sit inside their vehicles.
•Don’t forget the snacks.
HANDY HINT – Kennards Box Shop have a great selection of heavy duty boxes that cater for most budgets. •For little children, we suggest assembling the car together first so the bulk of the time can be spent on the fun part of the activity (decorating the car and watching the movie). Older children can participate in building their car.
11. SMALL WORLD PLAY-the creation of realistic worlds using toy figurines, animals and objects in order to encourage young learners in making discoveries of the world around them. Our favourite themes are: The Zoo, Under the Sea, Dinosaurs, Fairies and the city.
ORGANISATIONAL TIPS …so if you are anything like me, you are always on the hunt for fresh ideas to keep the home, routines, family as organised as possible in the bid to have more time for productivity at work, to feel a sense of accomplishment and fun things such as family time, relaxation and play. Our top 6 tips are:
//MORNING AND AFTERNOON ROUTINES// Mornings set the tone of the day for us – they either energise us or drain us. Our morning routine came about with the combination of trial and error and inspiration from our favourite authors and bloggers. And even now, it still doesn’t always go to plan – as that is the nature of life, but the key for success for us has been to keep it simple. We have kept it simple by choosing 5 things to complete each morning (aka Daily 5) because this is what we can manage. The intention was to keep these five tasks the same until they became daily habits and once they were a part of our everyday life, consider introducing new tasks as needed. This concept was inspired from Leanne over at Organising the Four of Us. Check out her page to learn so many more handy tips on organisation, particularly Project 14. Afternoons – work much the same way with daily tasks, however, there are only 3 tasks. This fits in our current afternoon schedule.
//VISUAL TIMETABLES/ROUTINE CARDS// creating visual timetables with routine cards for all family members is a great way to keep track of schedules, responsibilities and holds everyone accountable for their organisation. Did you know that our brains are hardwired to love routine? …so even if things in our homes seem chaotic and somewhat disorganised, there is a pattern in there somewhere. There is a multitude of information and routine cards online to find which ones best meet the needs of your family.
//DAILY PLANNER// I like to keep a track of our daily activities on paper (I am a list person) even though our schedule is often jam packed, seeing it on paper makes me feel like I have a handle of things. Our usual planner wasn’t available this year, so we created our own. We record our daily schedule, daily 4 (priorities for the day), to do list (aka the rolling to do list -the jobs that seem to roll on for a few days until they are completed – surely I am not alone, right?), meals, appointments, self care and shopping.
//LAUNCH PAD/ORGANISATION STATION// Organisation stations are not a new idea and in fact most of us have them in some way, shape or form. Launch pads (sometimes also known as command centres or mud rooms) hold a family’s everyday items that are needed to get ready and out the door in a timely manner – from school bags, to handbags, to calendars, to planners, to homework, to shoes and uniforms. They are best known for their ability to create smoother morning and afternoon routines for both parents and children. Check out these launch pads for inspiration to get one started in your home. //ZONE CLEANING// Have you heard of zone cleaning? This is a concept originally seen www.flylady.net. It involves dividing your home into zones for the purpose of cleaning. In the beginning it is encouraged to set a timer for 15 minutes and to de-clutter that one specific zone – in baby steps. Don’t tackle a job that you instinctively know will take longer than 15 minutes to complete. Once that selected zone is de-cluttered, there are set daily missions to complete within that zone. When a zone is completed, the same steps are applied to a new zone. Once all zones have been finished, the focus shifts to maintenance. Sounds like something of interest to you and you are keen to get started http://www.flylady.net/d/getting-started/
//DROP BOX// Hands up if you find yourself running back and forth in your home returning misplaced (aka stray) belongings? If this is you, this idea is just what you need. It is a box in a central spot to place those loose items, eliminating the constant back and forth, until you have the time to return them in one go. This has been a huge organisational success in our home.
//PLAY PLANNER// This year we combined two of our greatest passions (organisation and play) and created a Play Planner for use in our home. It is a place to schedule our weekly play activities, set goals, store an inventory of our play resources, record our children’s current interests and achievements along with ideas for purchasing new play resources which makes it easier to come up with birthday and Christmas gifts ideas. By scheduling play into our daily routine we are able to increase our productivity, feel a sense of accomplishment and keep hustlin’. …so how does following these ideas/systems create more time for play? We have found with each family member knowing what is expected of them, the opportunities to develop daily organisational habits, and the minimal time spent on giving instructions for routine based tasks, there is actually more time available for the fun things – such as play. Check out our PLAY PLANNER ideas here.