Play Activities

Kindergarten Readiness: Play with Loose Parts & Other Stuff

Recently, there has been much discussion about play with loose parts and how it contributes to creativity, exploration, imagination, learning, and fun. Of course, all of those in turn support kindergarten readiness. Usually, when we think of children and play we include toys but kids will play with all kinds of stuff. Loose parts are items such as rocks, pine cones, sand, water, pieces of wood, crates, balls, tires, pots, empty plastic containers, sponges, and more.

loose-parts play activitiesWhy are loose parts so valuable for play? The easiest way to answer is to watch what kids do when they play with these materials. The play is endlessly varied, as children manipulate, imagine, create, and combine. Kids explore and find solutions to problems. The play is open-ended and child-led. Materials range in size from boxes, logs, and crates that are as large as the kids to tiny objects like pine cones, rocks, corks, buttons, and bits of wood.

loose-parts play activitiesRecently, on a house-cleaning day, my 4-year old “helper” collected some loose parts. A comb, small container of dental floss, some marbles, a shoe horn and other bits kept her busy for half the morning as she created a little house for 2 small bears. Another day the recycling yielded all kinds of plastic containers for playing restaurant. Both these activities stimulated lots of language, asking questions, interacting, and symbolic play.

loose parts play activitiesThe big disadvantage of loose-parts play is that it is so hard to get rid of anything. How to store all the bits and pieces is another challenge. But one marvelous advantage is that these materials not only have tremendous play value but they are inexpensive. Children will play in all kinds of ways and the learning and fun will be just as varied. For a play-of-the-day today are there some loose parts that your child can use for play activities?

Kindergarten Readiness: Fun & Learning in the Kitchen

Encouraging your toddler’s early learning or preschooler’s kindergarten readiness can be as easy as opening a drawer in your kitchen. Having a drawer with plastic containers and safe tools gives your child something to play with while you are busy.

developing kindergarten readiness

The crawlers discover how they can take everything out of the drawer. Small containers will fit inside big ones, and if you are lucky, everything will fit back in the drawer. Toddlers like to imitate adult actions such as stirring or lifting. They will line up the containers, try the lids, roll them, pile them up, put things in them, and clap them together. It’s fun just to try carrying a few.

developing kindergarten readiness

Children love to pretend and will use containers to  imagine and create. They could be used to make a restaurant, kitchen, space station, picnic, and more. Older children can get very creative when it comes to using containers for construction. Add in some of the plastics in the recycling bin for some additional, no-cost toys.

developing kindergarten readiness

Children can play and learn with anything, even plastic containers. Different thinking skills are used such as problem-solving, pretending, cause and effect, creating, observing, questioning, and spatial awareness, to name just a few. Because plastic containers are not toys, there are no “rules” about how to use them, unless children make up their own games as they play. Do you have a space in your kitchen for some plastic container play?

Kindergarten Readiness: Playdough Play-of-the-Day

What kindergarten readiness learning and fun can be squished, rolled, cut, stretched, smooshed, and patted? Playdough, of course. (Plus it starts with a p since April starts with a p.) Playdough can be played with in other ways, too. It’s a great toy for children at several stages. Once kids have learned that playdough doesn’t go in their mouth, it can be used for simple exploration and sensory stimulation. Older ones can imagine and create with playdough. Children may also roll out letters and numbers, make shapes, map out roads for making tracks from toys with wheels, and practice using scissors.

playdough learning activities and funAs kids play with playdough they are also improving fine motor dexterity. The small muscles in the hands, fingers, and wrists are still developing. The brain also gets lots of exercise for problem-solving and planning and other thinking skills. Two colors of playdough added another element to the fun for these kids. Instead of using a table, the big plastic sheet spread on the floor gave much more space–and kept the playdough off the carpet.

Instead of the usual toys, add some kitchen utensils and other items. A rolling pin, wooden spoon, potato masher, plastic fork, and egg turner are possibilities. Bottle lids of various sizes make small circle tracks. Kids can hide small items in the dough and then find them again. Playdough can be made very inexpensively at home; there are tons of recipes and ideas. Try a few different ones until you find the one that works best. This video below explains it well and the dough does look exactly like the sticky paste and then a big lump. Add a drop or two of essential oil for a lovely smell. These two children are different ages and do not play with the playdough the same way. How does your child like to play with playdough?

Kindergarten Readiness: Patterning Plays-of-the-Day

Patterning activities are the plays-of-the-day for basic learning and some kindergarten readiness fun. As children grow and develop their brains have to cope with enormous quantities of information. One of the strategies that helps is that of patterning. A pattern shrinks the amount of information into a much smaller chunk. Patterning is something the brain … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness: Patterning Plays-of-the-Day

Kindergarten Readiness: Fun And Learning with Puppets

Puppets are a perfect kindergarten readiness play-of-the-day, for fun and learning, that starts with a p just like April starts with a p. They can be made out of a variety of materials: socks, take-home containers, popsicle sticks, paper bags, bits of fabric, and even fingers. Of course, there are wonderful puppets in the store … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness: Fun And Learning with Puppets

Kindergarten Readiness: Playing with Paper

Have you ever had a terrific activity planned (with lots of kindergarten readiness fun and learning) and thought it would turn out one way only to have the kidlets do something quite different? That’s one of the possible outcomes when play is child-led instead of adult-led. Plays-of-the-day this month all start with a p–April starts … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness: Playing with Paper

Kindergarten Readiness Plays in the Puddles

Today’s play-of-the-day that starts with the letter p is Puddles because a puddle can be full of lots of kindergarten readiness fun and learning. To children, puddles are an invitation to connect with nature. Just stepping in a puddle is fun; splashing in one is even more exciting. In this puddle activity, mom Laurie Wallach-Rhodes … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness Plays in the Puddles

Kindergarten Readiness: Children and Pretend Play

“Let’s pretend” is an invitation to learning and fun that goes far beyond kindergarten readiness; it’s a complex and powerful tool for thinking and creativity. It’s also today’s play-of-the day that starts with a p because A pril starts with a p. Pretending and imagining do not end with childhood, that’s where they begin! Just … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness: Children and Pretend Play

Kindergarten Readiness: Puzzles Support Early Learning

Since April starts with a p, kindergarten readiness learning and fun activities will also start with a p. Today’s play-of-the-day is Puzzles. Puzzles are more than a toy, they are also a learning tool. As kids play with puzzles they are developing many skills, such as: problem-solving: Finding where each piece fits is a mini … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness: Puzzles Support Early Learning