Playing is a rite of passage for any child. Read on for some easy, inexpensive areas you can create in your home to help inspire them to play creatively.
Planning an area that will allow your child to cultivate their own creativity is a great gift to give them! There’s nothing at all wrong with traditional toys to play with, but why not give them some space to be really creative with their play. Here are some great ideas you can incorporate into your home to help the children in your life:
1. A sand and water table
This one is probably best set up outside! You can purchase these at most large toy shops but why not just find (or build!) a table that is the right size for your child and set that up. Put a lip around the outside so the water and sand don’t drip off easily, and make sure it has a lid or cover for when you are done.
Your child can create sand castles and other structures on top of it and play around with dumping water. You don’t even need to buy any fancy buckets or anything – old yogurt containers and plastic spoons work great.
2. A puppet theatre
You could go all out and create an actual theatre, with curtains that open and close if you are very creative yourself, or you can simply put up a table – even a large decorated piece of cardboard will do! Your child surely has some dolls (there’s no rule that says they have to be actual puppets) or else make some out of fabric, markers, and old socks. Ask them to put on a show for you!
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3. An art area
Set up an old table that’s just for messy color time! Put down a drop cloth, or an old sheet, cover the table with paper (rolls of paper can typically be found inexpensively at discount and big box stores) and provide lots of crayons, felts, and paints. Let your children draw whatever they want, or give them a very general theme, and see what they come up with.
Designate a special art area – even the fridge – and have them display it themselves. When the area gets too full, have them decide what to take down in order to put new pieces up.
4. A book nook
Reading may not be termed ‘play’ exactly, but letting a child read will greatly improve their imagination! Set up a cozy area – a small closet, create a window seat, or just use the corner of a room – and allow them some quiet reading time.
Make sure there is plenty of light, a comfortable chair or pillows, blankets, and a variety of books they enjoy. Ask your child to decorate the area with pictures or stickers to make it their special spot.
5. A nature scene
Go for a walk in the park, or at least around your neighborhood, and collect some blades of grass, pinecones, leaves, branches and sticks, and whatever else catches your child’s eye and take it all home to create something. Display their masterpiece on your mantle or a shelf to add a seasonal, earthy feel to any room.
6. A busy box
This is a great idea for small areas where you can’t spare any room, or if your child spends a lot of time at other people’s houses, as you can store it easily or they can take it with them. Get a medium size storage tub and fill it with a bunch of items they can use creatively, and in a different way every time.
Some ideas include blocks for stacking or spelling, paper and crayons, leftover fabric swatches of different textures, empty spools, puppets, beads, pipe cleaners, play doh – whatever you have around the house that your child may like.
A word on safety
Just remember with ANY object you give a child make sure it’s safe – not falling apart, broken, or containing any small parts that could be popped into their mouths.
And where there’s kids – there will be falls! Consider adding a rubber floor to your children’s common play areas. Rubber floors are a great investment to almost any room because they are durable, easy to clean, slip-resistant, and most importantly, will ease the impact of any hard falls involving both your child and their toys.
Your creative ideas
How do you use your home to inspire your children to cultivate their creativity? Have you built in a special area in your home exclusively for your child’s play? Share your ideas with us in the comments.