Children's play activities

Children can play in different ways and in different places. Playing with your child gives you time together. You can both benefit from the shared play experiences, strengthening the bond between parent and child. Use low-cost and no cost ideas to encourage your child’s imagination and creativity when they play.

Making playthings from household items

Look around your home and in your garage to find:

  • fabric
  • material
  • sheets
  • blankets
  • cardboard boxes
  • old clothes
  • logs
  • buckets
  • baskets
  • wood
  • plastic bottles

You can adapt these things for activities and games.

Bubble socks

To make bubble socks:

  • cut a plastic bottle in half
  • cover it with a sock
  • dip in soapy water
  • blow through the end of the bottle

Bubbles will appear on the sock toes.

Build a den

Ask your children to help you get:

  • sheets
  • blankets
  • material
  • rope
  • pegs
  • sticks and twigs
  • cushions
  • carpet mats

Use these to build a den. It’s a new space for eating outdoors and staying out of the sun.

Ice finds

Fill a basin or large plastic box with water. Drop in some toy farm animals, dinosaurs and plastic pockets. Freeze overnight. Empty onto a kitchen tray, sand or water pit. Give your children small kitchen utensils to break the ice and find things in the ice.

Water painting

Give your child a paintbrush and a bucket of water. Let them paint outside walls, fences, gates, drainpipes and pavements with water.

Drawing with chalk

You can buy cheap, chunky walks in bargain shops. Your child will enjoy chalking pavements, the driveway, walls, fences or bricks. They’ll also like watching rain wash away their writing.

Drawing outdoors

Take wallpaper rolls, cardboard panels or sheets outdoors along with felt tip pens, crayons and paint. Roll out the paper or spread the sheet and let your child draw and paint.

Scavenger hunt

Suggest your children explore your garden, neighbourhood or the beach to see what treasures from nature they’ll find. For example, they could find shells, pebbles, driftwood and seaweed on the beach.

Climb a tree

Encourage each child to climb a tree. Ask them to describe what they see.

Teddy bears’ picnic

Children like eating outdoors. Spread a picnic blanket or a mat in the garden. Lay out plastic cups and plates for food. Tell your children to bring their cuddly toys to the picnic.

Getting hands dirty

Fill a container with soil or go to an area in the garden. Put in yoghurt pots, cars, toy animals, spoons, small stones and twigs. Let your children use their hands to dig in the soil. Add water and create mud. The children can make mud pies.

Dressing up

Use a cardboard box or suitcase to gather dressing up props such as:

  • hats
  • bags
  • belts
  • shoes
  • beads
  • sunglasses
  • old mobile telephone
  • camera
  • walkie talkie
  • torch
  • binocular

Encourage each child to dress up and become a character.

Hopscotch and Xs and Os

You can use chalk or a stone to draw:

  • a large grid for playing Xs and Os on the ground or on the wall
  • hopscotch on the ground

Show the children how to play.

Chill out den

Allow your children to bring their friends into the den you built. Make a place to sit with carpet squares, a sheet or rug, or two crates and a wooden plank. Put cards, dominos, marbles or a football in the den. Add some music to create a relaxing space.

Traditional games and activities

Make sure your children know how to play traditional games and activities you and your grandparents enjoyed including:

  • skipping
  • two ball
  • jacks
  • German jumps
  • kerbside
  • tag
  • hide and seek
  • Simon says
  • duck duck goose
  • egg and spoon
  • blind man’s bluff
  • kick the can
  • stick in the mud
  • piggy in the middle

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