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Easy Play Ideas for Kids: 20 of Your Favourites From 2020!

December 31, 2020

A lot of things were different in 2020, but this remained the same – we played! Here are 20 of your favourite easy play ideas for kids from 2020:

1. Outdoor Treasure Hunt

Head out for a walk and go on a treasure hunt! Bring a box or bag to collect treasures you find along the way.

Three photos of a child collecting, painting, and stacking stones from a nature walk activity

Collecting treasures on a walk doesn’t have to end when you get home! Hold onto those treasures for art and play. Paint stones, pinecones, sticks and leaves, or build with them instead! A pinecone can be an apple, while leaves become blankets for dolls. Use your imagination and see where it takes you!

2. Not Just a Laundry Basket…

Your laundry basket is not just a laundry basket. It’s also a wagon, a car, a boat, a treasure chest, or a turtle shell! Leave out your laundry basket and see how your child uses it in play! Try some of these ideas.

A background of a laundry basket with the text Not Just a Laundry Basket...

3. Drawing Upside Down

Try a new way of drawing by taping paper to the bottom of a table and drawing while lying down!

A child tries an upside-down art activity by drawing on a piece of paper taped to the bottom of a table

4. Toy Tape

Babies, toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy this toy tape! Tape objects to the floor or a table and practice sticking and unsticking the objects. Use stronger tape to make it more challenging or tape objects around your home to encourage your child to walk, crawl from one object to the next. Here are some more easy play ideas using tape.

Household objects like a spatula, spoon, and toy car are taped to a wall using painter's tape for an easy activity for kids

5. Cardboard Box Play

Young children love to play with everyday objects, sometimes even more than their toys—and boxes are a prime example of that. Boxes make great toys and they are filled with countless opportunities for creating and learning. Check out these carboard box play ideas!

Background of a toddler happily peeking out of a box with the text Cardboard Box Play

6. Scribbling to Music

Make your marker dance by scribbling fast and slow while listening to music! As the music plays, try scribbling at the same pace. See if the images change depending on the song you’re listening to.

Does your child like the freeze dance? Stop the music while they’re creating and freeze to change up the activity!

7. Snow Art

Use spray bottles, condiment bottles, or water bottles (with a squirt lid) filled with water and food colour to draw in the snow! No snow nearby? Use a spray bottle to colour on paper towels or coffee filters instead!

Two children use a bottle to squirt red and green coloured water onto the snow during a winter outdoor play activity

8. Song and Dance

Singing is a great learning tool as well as something many children enjoy! Here are 5 songs to sing with your little one and some of the concepts your child is learning through song.

A background of various children's instruments with the text Sing and Dance: 5 song suggestions and what children are learning

For more song ideas to help your child learn, bring circle time home with these songs and activities.

9. Marble Drop

Save your paper towel rolls and incorporate them in play by using small objects (such as marbles) to feed through the tubes! Experiment to see which objects fit and which objects don’t, while developing fine motor skills and dexterity.

A toddler drops marbles into a paper towel tube as a fine motor activity while her mother smiles

10. Sending Letters to Family and Friends

Sending letters and artwork to friends and family is a great way for children to connect to their loved ones! Sometimes when children create something, they will explain that it’s “for Grandpa” or “for Tiya” – take these cues as opportunities to ask your child why they made it for that person and to send the art to loved ones!

Two photos of a child drawing a picture with marker then placing an envelope in a mailbox to mail her art to a family member

Dropping it at their doorstep, texting a photo of the art, or sending it in the mail are all great ways to share their work and to connect with friends and family in a fun and creative way! Include a self-addressed and stamped envelope to maybe get some mail back!

11. Teddy Bear Scavenger Hunt

The teddy bear scavenger hunt started to help keep children connected and playing while physical distancing. Try connecting with families in your community to put teddy bears in their windows so your children can find the bears. Don’t know families in your community? Hide the bear in your home instead and go on a bear hunt!

A teddy bear is seen in a window from outside during a teddy bear scavenger hunt community walk activity

This idea started from the story “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. This story encourages movement by swooshing through the grass and splashing in the water! Act out the story together to start moving!

12. Building with Foam Blocks

Try building with foam blocks and using shaving cream as an adhesive. Instead of foam blocks, this same activity can be done with pieces of Styrofoam or a cut up pool noodle!

Children build a tower out of foam blocks and shaving cream

13. Playing with Household Objects

All sorts of household objects make great toys and create valuable play experiences. Try out these quick and simple play ideas using common household objects!

A background of a toddler wearing sunglasses with the text Playing With Household Objects

14. Salad Spinner Art

Paint in a new way using a salad spinner! Cut a piece of paper to fit inside the salad spinner, add a few globs of paint to the paper, and spin!

A three photo image showing a child dripping paint onto a round piece of paper and then spinning it in a salad spinner to create art

15. Gardening

Gardening is a great way for children to connect with nature, to learn how plants grow and to learn where food comes from! It’s also an opportunity for children to learn the importance of caring for plants in order for them to grow strong – teaching responsibility and empowering children to take charge of a task.

A preschool aged child and a toddler water plants in a garden

16. Staying Active at Home

Staying active and burning energy at home can be hard, but it can be done! Click here for some ideas.

A background of a child throwing old CDs into a bowl with the text Staying Active At Home

17. Dancing with Scarves

In our Move and Groove program children love to dance with scarves – waving them high, low, fast or slow! If you don’t have any scarves at home, you can use a dish towel or face cloth instead. Babies will enjoy tracking the fabric as it dances around and older children will burn off some energy dancing to the music!

A preschool aged child dances around with a cloth tea towel

18. Clip it!

Clothes pins and clips make for a great way to exercise little hands and fingers. Collect your clips and clothespins and simply find places to clip them in your home!

Chip clips and clothes pins are clipped to a cardboard box as an easy play idea

Take the activity a step further by using the clips to pick up small objects such as cotton balls, crayons or tiny toys.

19. Play With Music

Does your child like to sing and listen to music? We’ve put together some play ideas to go along with old and new favourite songs! See them all here.

A background of pots, pans, and spoons with the text Play With Music

20. Connecting In Your Community

Children can help each other by connecting with neighbours and friends while maintaining social distancing. Face-timing loved ones, creating an outdoor art gallery for neighbours, or writing special messages for others to see as they go for walks are all great ways for children to connect with each other!

Two photos; one of inspirational messages painted on rocks and another of children on a walk around their neighbourhood

For more play ideas, check out our Songs & Activities page!

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We are also offering online family programs every day of the week via Zoom; find a program that fits your routine! We offer some programs with ASL interpretation and others in French, Mandarin, and Urdu. Find out more on our Schedules page!