Play time is quality time for kids, especially when little minds and bodies are still developing and growing. To inspire your little one’s play time, we asked Kiwi mums and dads to share how their little ones love to play.
The best play is when kids are moving, laughing, learning, and exploring.
50 play ideas from Kiwi parents
1. Ride-on toys: The best ones are those that encourage their imagination, like a fire engine, or police bike.
2. Box play: Turn an empty cardboard box into a race car, boat, or anything! Let the kids lose with the crayons and pens to decorate their new vehicle. At the end of the day, set them up for a “drive-through” movie.
3. Cars and trucks: Great additions to the sandpit – create a roadway or mini town.
4. Helping out: Little kids love to help mum and dad around the house by hanging out washing, weeding and planting, etc, or pretending to mow the lawn.
5. Water play: Float a toy boat in a big bowl of water, small paddling pool, or tub and see what things from around the garden will also float. In warmer weather, get the kids in the water for a splashing good time.
6. Climbing: Jungle gyms, climbing walls, trees …
7. Dress ups: Pretend to be someone else for a day!
8. Wash the car: Whether it’s washing the family car or their Little Tikes Cozy Coupe, what kid can resist water and bubbles?
9. Mud, glorious mud: Dig in dirt, make mud pies – just generally get messy!
10. Trampoline: Classic Kiwi backyard fun.
11. Imaginative play: Hideaway in a pirate’s lair, sail the seven seas, or go on a bear hunt in your own backyard just by using some imagination!
12. Ride a bike or scooter: Create a course with small cones and learn some manoeuvres.
13. Visit a playground: Explore the various playground equipment at a new park or revisit an old favourite.
14. Swings and slides: Traditional fun, either in your backyard or at the local park.
15. Construction: Create with sand, dirt or offcuts of wood.
16. Explore: Take a walk together around the neighourhood or see what marvels you can find in the garden including flowers, insects, bark, shells, feathers, etc.
17. Have a race: Ready, set go, for a running race. Use a stopwatch to time them and challenge them to beat their time.
18. Play with pets: Teach the dog a trick or two, follow the cat through the garden, or feed the chickens or rabbits.
19. Make some music: Learn a new song, or create your own with some simple instruments like drums, maracas, cymbals, etc.
20. Balls: Throw them, roll them, kick them, bounce them – there’s hours of fun to be had with a ball!
21. Blocks: Build the tallest tower, or create a scene for their favourite figurines.
22. Dolls: Dress them up, take them for a walk in the pram, or give them a check-up at a pretend doctor’s surgery.
23. Chalk drawing: Create patterns or pictures on the concrete.
24. Head to the beach: Build a sandcastle, hunt down some cool rocks or shells (but leave them undisturbed), or play some beach cricket.
25. Swimming: In a pool, or at the beach, take your little one for some paddling fun.
26. Open a restaurant: Play kitchens make for great role play – what will be on the menu for family or their favourite toys? Bake some goodies to serve in the restaurant.
27. Interactive toys: Toys that educate and entertain are great for developing little minds and bodies.
28. Reading: Take a favourite or a new book into a fort or outside under a tree.
29. Painting and drawing: Try different types of art mediums like crayons, pastels, finger painting, or stamps.
30. Pack a picnic: Find a favourite spot or just park up in the lounge if the weather isn’t great.
31. Bubbles: Create the biggest bubbles, or the most bubbles, or the ones that fly the furthest!
32. Go on a bushwalk: Head off on a short walk and discover native trees and birds. Let your little one take some photos of things that intrigue them.
33. Forts: From blanket and big cardboard box forts inside to outdoor play forts, a hideaway is a great way to fire their imagination.
34. Colouring-In: Print off a colouring page of their favourite character from the movies or TV.
35. Obstacle course: Inside or outside, you can create an obstacle course to suit your child’s abilities and using everyday things, ie crawl through a chair, bounce a ball into a basket, walk along a ribbon on the floor, jump into a hula hoop.
36. Make a sand saucer: Decorate it with flowers and leaves from the garden.
37. Have a bubble bath: Fill the tub with bubbles and add scoops and funnels to play with.
38. Create a card: Make and decorate a card for a loved one or friend, and pop it in the post.
39. Grow a sunflower: See if they can grow it to be bigger than them!
40. Traditional toys: Learn to hula hoop, skip, or play hopscotch or elastics.
41. Play a memory game: Memory games are simple to play and can be adjusted to suit your child’s ability. Try this memory card game or memory on a tray game.
42. Play a board game: There’s lots of simple games for little kids that they will love to play over and over again.
43. Play shops: Grab some canned and packet foods from the pantry and set up a shop with some play money or tokens. Decorate a small table as your shop or create one from a large cardboard box.
44. Put on a show: Create invites, then tell a story, act it out, or dance to a favourite tune.
45. Puzzles: Jigsaws are great for encouraging focus and concentration.
46. Make a book: Fill it with drawings or collages, or help your child to write a short story.
47. Balloons: Play keepy uppy, bounce them, kick them, or play catch.
48. Basket baby: If your little one isn’t yet confident in sitting up, pop them into a large basket (ensure that it won’t tip over), and provide some things that they can grasp and play with, ie soft toys, pegs, board books, blocks, etc.
49. Puppet show: Create sock puppets and use a box to make a “theatre” then put on a show for the family.
50. Treasure hunt: Hide an object in a room or in the garden and tell the seeker if they are “hot” or “cold” to help them find it.
Always supervise children around water, heights, driveways, roads, and play equipment. Always ensure that toys and play equipment is suitable for their age.
Kidspot’s Activity Corner has thousands of ideas for play! Visit here.
Written by Julie Scanlon
Julie is Editor for Kidspot NZ and our MVP. Her hobbies include laughing uncontrollably at her own jokes, annoying her family by asking questions about movie plots, and never taking anything too seriously. She speaks a little Spanish and a lot of Yorkshire.
Favourite motto to live by: “It ain’t nothing but a thing”