50 Play Ideas From Kiwi Parents

Playtime is quality time for kids, especially when little minds and bodies are still developing and growing. To inspire your little one’s playtime, 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, or 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 are suitable for their age.

Kidspot’s Activity Corner has thousands of ideas for play! Visit here.

How does your little one love to play? Share your favourite activities.

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her world julieWritten 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”


  1. MuddledUpMolly 01/12/2019 at 9:30 pm

    What an awesome range of fun play ideas for everyday kiwi kids. We have done all but four of these fun play ideas so will definitely make sure we add growing sunflowers, an obstacle course, a puppet show and making a sand saucer to the list.

  2. SarahBlair 01/12/2019 at 8:38 pm

    What a great list of ideas, and mostly free! This is perfect for the upcoming holidays, I will also sent this to my friends who have littler kids than mine because I think that it will really benefit them as well!

  3. Alezandra 01/12/2019 at 1:46 pm

    These ideas all summed up in one word: Playcentre. These are the things I’ve learned from going to Playcentre that I incorporate from there back to home. It has become a lifestyle that stays with you.

  4. Loucyd3 01/12/2019 at 1:31 am

    Loads of great ideas to keep the kids entertained, we encourage our kids to play outdoors, playing on the tramp, climbing the trees, having picnics and doing lots of Bush walks as much as possible as with all this technology around kids seem to be stuck behind their screens alot. If the weather is yucky we will pull out the board games and have a family battle off, or get creative with Lego. Our kids would love all these fun activities.

  5. Micht 30/11/2019 at 11:43 pm

    Great ideas to keep in mind for the holidays…we always run out of ideas…

  6. Bevik1971 27/11/2019 at 4:22 pm

    Wow brilliant! So many cool ideas here 🙂 sadly the old outside play has diminished for a lot of kids these days, with all the technology around. The inside games etc are great during winter and when weather doesn’t allow outside play. Boxes are always a hit with kids, even the bigger kids I reckon, much fun to be had for zero cost 🙂

  7. dawnblyth 26/11/2019 at 4:03 pm

    Box play! My boys love this. We had an old banana box, one half of it, that we turned into a racing car and my eldest loved playing in it. Currently, my youngest has bought home a box that he has made into a robot hat. Hes super proud of it and something so simple, and so cheap, keeps him entertained for hours.

  8. Mands1980 20/11/2019 at 11:30 am

    Wow so many ideas we love the trampoline doing flips and cartwheels on it as well as the grass. Throwing balls, hitting balls with tennis rackets or a cricket bat. Painting with marbles in a box by putting paint colours out then placing marbles in different colours then putting in a box and rolling over paper it looks amazing. Bubbles of course. Swimming and water slides in summer. I could go on but a lot are listed in this great list above which is great for parents.

  9. Shorrty4life1 14/11/2019 at 1:53 pm

    My daughter she loves doing cartwheels and handstands. Shes right into her gymnastics. She also loves tennis and miniball loves her fitness sports etc. My son he loves playing in dirt or sand and building sandcastles and playing with sand toys he also loves anything that is involving water play. Both my kids also love to grow sunflowers in the summer months they love to plant them, water them and watch them grow big and bright into a beautiful flower. Great reads in this article and great reading parent’s opinions in it also.

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