Creative everyday play ideas for kids

May 17, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. ET

Do you feel like your everyday playtime activities have become stale or boring for your child — and yourself? Make playtime more interesting for everyone with these creative everyday playtime enhancers, ideas and tips.

The importance of playtime

When you encourage your children to engage in playtime, you’re helping your child build essential learning skills. Some of these learning skills include:

  • Social interaction
  • Decision making
  • Leadership
  • Imagination
  • Independence
  • Confidence
  • Resilience
  • Creativity

Do you have to be involved in every minute your child is playing? Not exactly, according to Healthy Children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) website for parents and caregivers. Independent playtime is essential for growth and can be a relaxing form of downtime for a child. But with busy family schedules, the AAP encourages parents to actively make time for playtime.

Children are curious and will initiate play no matter what the situation, but quality playtime includes a healthy mixture of structured activities, independent play, creative play and age-appropriate interaction.

Make-believe playtime

Children often mimic their parents, peers and use their imaginations when dressing up or playing make believe. Children naturally explore this type of play, but here are some creative ways you can enhance make-believe playtime for your child.

Tip: You can use these same ideas while playing in a pretend kitchen or to keep your child busy while you make dinner for the family.

Tea party

  • Make your own placemats: Each tea party can become a different theme with some paper and colored markers. Teach your child how to set the table by drawing where the plate, cup and utensils go on the placemat or celebrate a pretend birthday or special occasion — like using the potty for the first time.
  • Practice pouring: Pouring is a great way to build independence, coordination and practice cause and effect. Use dried pinto beans instead of water to eliminate messy spills or take the tea party outdoors on a warm day. When your child spills the water or beans, offer up easy solutions on how to clean up, encourage that your child keep trying and praise your child when he or she accomplishes the task.

Make a movie or music video

  • Take playing dress up to the next level. Encourage creativity and imagination by allowing your children to dress up in clothes from your closet or clothes from a dress-up box, pick a song and practice before the taping begins. Then play the performance for your children so they can see what a great job they did.

Fun twists on classic playtime activities >>

Social interaction playtime

Puppet show

Puppet shows are a great way to problem solve with your child. Bring a real-life scenario into your story line to talk through problems and brainstorm solutions.

Outdoor play

Playing outside is essential for growing children. Put together an obstacle course and cheer each other on or organize an activity that requires teamwork and socialization — like a relay race.

Arts and crafts

Craft time is a great opportunity for social playtime and for showing the importance of working together to achieve the same results. Instead of supplying each child with the supplies to create a project, provide the children with one or two materials (like a glue bottle or paintbrush) to encourage working together and show the importance of sharing.

How to encourage outdoor play >>

More on playtime

The importance of playtime for your little one: The first year
Signs your preschooler needs more playtime
Magical playtime tips for babies