A friend recently asked me how I came up with the ideas for the activities I do with J. I wasn’t really quite sure how to answer her and just said “I don’t know…I just do”
I’ve been thinking about her question a lot lately and I’ve realized that she was asking me for help and my answer wasn’t all that helpful. So, that got me to thinking….”How do I do it?”. I’ve thought about it, and here are my “pointers” for coming up with fun, playful activities to do with your children.
Look for inspiration:
Bloggers blog to inspire others. So please use their ideas to inspire your own…I do! .
Sometimes I will outright copy a bloggers idea (giving credit to them for the idea), or I will expand or change an idea a bit.
You don’t always have to come up with some great, brand new idea that no one has done before. Remember that your child hasn’t done everything that’s out there. Even though an activity may not seem all that new or unique, doesn’t mean that it won’t be fun for your child. Those oldies, like painting with water, are still around for a reason…kids LOVE them!
This is where practice and risk taking comes into play. I’m going to give you a quick run down of how I came up with this fun activity I put together for J yesterday.
It all started with J digging in the closet and finding the neon cups. He played for a bit by himself until he asked me for his bouncy balls. That’s when inspiration hit!
- As I was getting out the bouncy balls I thought, “I really don’t want these bouncing all around the house, so let’s contain it”. I grabbed the cookie sheet.
- As I was getting the cookie sheet, I saw my mini muffin tins. Immediately I thought “Ha! These are the perfect size for both the cups and bouncy balls!”
- I put it all down in front of J and TADA an activity that he played with for 15 minutes!
That’s honestly how most of my stuff comes together. I follow J’s lead and think outside the box. The more you try this the better you’ll get seeing a game in everyday things.
Some things to consider when making an activity for your child.
- What are his interests? J loves bubbles, water, anything to do with transportation, and taking objects in and out of other objects (like the balls and cups). So, I try to add some of these elements into an activity for him.
- What level of messiness can your child handle? J is not huge on getting really messy like some kids. But, that doesn’t stop me from giving him some messy activities. I do know that he doesn’t like gooey things that stick to his hands. Finger painting is out…but rice play is a hit! The only way you’ll know this is to try. This is where the risk taking comes in.
It probably won’t go the way you expected it to.
So many times I’ve put together an activity for J that I KNEW he would love, but he didn’t care for it one bit. Other times, I’ll just throw something together and it turns into the best game ever, like our Marbles, Pom Poms, and Jars Activity!
The only way to know what your child likes and what games “might” be a success is to just try them. If a game fails, don’t force your child to play. Just say “oh well” and try something else. When you force it, it isn’t fun anymore for either of you.
You should also know that children will often completely change the rules of the game. As I’m putting an activity together, I always imagine the way an activity will go. Inevitably, J plays with it in a completely different way than I had imagined it. That’s ok…I just let him lead. I’m usually pretty amazed at what he comes up with. It’s all about “rolling with the punches” and letting your child lead. It’s more fun that way, and they actually learn better that way too!
What can you tolerate?
Pay attention to yourself and your limits with a mess. Change things up if it’s too stressful for you. Here’s an activity that got a bit too stressful for me. Read how I changed it up and turned it into lots of fun for both J and me!
Some parents are really good at handling messes, and others aren’t. Pay attention to what you can tolerate. Having a stressed out Mom who’s frantically sweeping up rice and getting frustrated at the mess is no fun for either the Mom or the Kid! Read all about how one Mom is working on this in her own life.
I hope that this helps some when it comes to putting together fun activities for your kids. I’m always willing to answer questions and I LOVE comments.
Haha! Great post…I’ve been wondering how you come up with all your ideas myself I just hadn’t got around to asking yet 🙂 Thanks for posting, you are inspiring.
Thank you, you’re sweet. You too are really creative with it comes to making up activites for your kids!
I always get the “How do you come up with ideas?” question from parents at storytime. I think my answers haven’t been very helpful, either. I should come up with a list, too. I try to talk about it and give handouts as well.
I think following the child’s lead is the best way to play, though. Yesterday, I had to sweep all the water out of the garage (don’t ask) out to the driveway. There was a pile of dirt, so it made mud. Bobo was fascinated by the process and got out his gardening tools and mixed the mud, found worms and put his hands and feet in there. I didn’t plan it, it just happened.
Most of the times those “accidental activities” are the best! Coming up with activities has always been pretty easy for me (has gotten easier the more I do it), and I forget that not all parents know how to just “throw things together”. I think that the handounts would be a great help for some.
I love your posts. It’s so nice to hear that other mommies get stressed out sometimes over these messy play activities. When I first starting doing them with my kids I really struggled with them, but now I’ve gotten used to the fact that they will get the mess all over and to just do it in a place I can wipe off. I’d hate to stop doing them because they love them so much.
The mess factor is a tough one to deal with. We all have our limits.
Great post! Lots of great tips!
I think it is hard for some people to come up with ideas for kids. I can easily come up with kid ideas but I can’t come up with a rhyming poem to save my life. 😉 I am so glad you shared the idea of looking to bloggers for inspiration. It’s okay for a parent to find ideas for their kids rather than coming up something creative on their own. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be much need for us bloggers if everyone was good at coming up with their own ideas for kids activities. 😉 Parents are so lucky these days to have millions of ideas right at their fingertips by using google searches and pinterest. There are ideas out there to fit any kid and family.
Ha! I can’t rhyme either! Bloogers are awesome and I get inspiration from fellow bloggers (like you) every day.
Growing a Jeweled Rose
I think this is a great post! You definitely have a natural ability to create fun for J 🙂
As do you Miss Creative!
Your post was really inspiring! I was hunting around trying to come up with an ‘original’ idea to do with my littlies and feeling a bit down about the whole thing ‘cos nothing was coming to me. Then I read your post and you are totally right…it doesn’t matter how ‘you’ see an activity is going to work, it is where your child takes it that counts. Would you mind if I shared this on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/madgecko?
What a wonderful comment. It truly is all about where your child takes it. I always worry about finding activites that I think will work, only to have J do something totally different with it. And YES, you may share this! Please, share anyhing you like from the blog.
The key has been what kind of mess I can tolerate. My son loves mess and being messy.
How funny that I get to comment on this post for Kids Co-op. I love it. Great advice. This is definitely how I come up with ideas. I think something I sometimes forget when i see a good idea is the developmental abilities of my son. It might be a great activity but it won’t be fun if mummy has to do 90% of it. (I’m learning!).
Thanks for linking to Kids Co-op and to me 🙂
Love this post! Some great advice 🙂 I’m VERY tolerant of mess, but i’ve found that having a few huge plastic storage bins to contain some of our messier activities can be a sanity saver!