What We Can Learn From Our Mothers...10 Free-Spirited Play Activities July 19 2013, 0 Comments

Playing dress-upI’m baffled as to how my mother raised me without the benefits of modern technology – without TIVOing Caillou, without iPhones, iPads, and all other sound-making, movie making gizmos.  In my quest to experience more play-time with my own family, I set-out to understand just how our parents did it – was it harder without all this stuff?  Or were they just more resourceful in finding things to do? I have many warm moments of my time as a kid – from helping my mother plant flowers, to building snowmen to collecting acorns.   I really hope my son doesn’t remember iPhone Tozzle, but rather all the non-techy stuff we do. That’s why I decided to I ask mothers and grandmothers, who I think have raised amazing and generous adults, for their fondest play moments.  Below are some of my personal favorites (and best of all – they are super easy, as who has time to get all crafty)? 1)      Dress-up Box:  Troll garage sales for old prom dresses, suit coats, ties and jewelry and create a dress-up box for kids to pretend play whenever they want.  Bonus: use the box to cut/make new Halloween costumes! 2)      Play Kitchen:  No need to buy plasticky fake food – why not just save empty cereal boxes, yogurt containers, dried flowers, old silverware, acorns, pine-cones, etc. and use that to create a yummy dinner. 3)      Castles:  Who doesn’t want to live in a castle or fort? I love this idea for notching up your fort to castle-like quality.  Instead of blankets – use sheets as they drape easier.  Use clothespins for durability, and to create rooms and passageways – can be done indoors or out. 4)      The Statue Game:  Genius – can’t believe I haven’t tried this one.  Spin your kiddo around. They need to freeze in a character or animal of their choice until you correctly guess what they are.  Repeat. 5)      Quiet time with books: Don’t forget your local library.  One mom tells us how her mother took her to the library weekly to get a stack of books.  Every-day they had afternoon “rest” with the shades pulled and read or looked at picture books.  Bonus: nap-time for parents. 6)      Ride-on Trains/Buses:  These ride-on toys don’t cost a penny.  Simply line up your chairs in a row and pretend you are going on a trip.  Kids can pretend they are the driver or passenger and sing “Wheels on the bus” over and over and over again. 7)      Bath Paints:  The joy of painting in the bath-tab is that the mess washes down the drain easily – no clean-up required.  Buy shaving cream (Barbasol is the cheapest), dye it with food coloring and mix in a Tupperware container – let your budding artists have at it! 8)      Hot Potato:  Balls are the best - cheap and open-ended hours of fun. Have your kiddo sit across from you – roll a ball back and forth and say it’s a really really “hot potato” and have them get rid of it as quickly as they can. 9)      Lunch bag Puppets:  Lunch bags are so versatile – from playing “guess what’s inside” to collecting all sorts of stuff to making puppets – the brown lunch bag rocks!  For puppets, all you need are markers, some construction paper, scissors and glue (as every puppet has to have eyes and ears) and viola – a new friend has been made! 10)   Mirror Funbabies and toddlers LOVE to see and imitate themselves in the mirror - attach a large mirror (great finds at garage sales) to a wall just above the baseboards.  Entertainment, laughs and smiles will ensue. My takeaway from this research, now that I’m armed with loads of ideas, is that I wasn’t very inventive in thinking of new things to do – technology has sapped my creative juices.  These activities aren’t complicated or stressful or messy – perhaps I just need to stretch my imagination just as much as my kiddo does! If you have other amazing play ideas – please do share as we’d love to hear about them.