You don’t have to buy new toys all the time to keep playtime engaging for your children. With a little creativity, you can keep your kids occupied while they have a lot of fun — and they might learn something along the way too.
Encourage pretend play
Pretend play is especially engaging to younger children. Set up a “dress up” area in your home stocked with old clothing, hats, shoes, jewelry, uniforms, costumes and other accessories. Supply your kids with simple puppets — even basic sock puppets — and have them put on a show. Make-believe and pretend play encourages creativity and strengthens the imagination.
Read more about why you should support imaginary play >>
When school is out for the summer, your kids can get bored quickly. If they are tired of the same old toys and games, try to fill their days with plenty of fun. From your backyard to local parks, there’s so much for your kids to do, see and learn outdoors. Outdoor play isn’t just about riding bikes and playing hopscotch — the outdoors offers opportunities for unique adventures and learning activities. A trip to the local lake can allow your kids to have some fun in the sun and water while learning about freshwater fish, plant life, insects and more. A camping trip to the nearby mountains will allow your whole family to get some exercise and have a lot of fun with hiking, horseback riding and other adventures. Aim to get outside with your kids four days a week — even if it’s just in your backyard playing games like hide-and-seek or running around in your neighborhood park.
Head to the kitchen
Kids love learning about food and cooking. Let them take part in preparing meals and snacks for themselves and your whole family. Even the youngest kids can take part in meal prep — washing fruits and vegetables, tossing the salad, mashing potatoes with a hand masher and more. Cooking also promotes literacy (reading recipes), sharpens math skills, introduces them to different cultures and provides bonding time.
Read about some of the benefits of cooking with preschoolers >>
Arts and crafts are a fantastic way to beat the everyday doldrums. Set up an area in your home or yard where kids can get messy with art supplies. Lay down a tarp, supply them with plastic aprons and let them get to work. You don’t have to stick to just crayons and paints — kids love to sculpt with clay, create jewelry with beads, decorate T-shirts and much more.
Take the family to the arts and crafts store and allow each child to pick out their own supplies. By taking part in the purchasing decisions, they’ll be more apt to find projects they like and stick to them.