Tag Archive | "toddler play"

Top Five Toddler Games For Messy Play

Toddlers love playing and they enjoy this activity more when mess is involved. Messy play is a part of childhood and is also a great learning tool. Here are five toddler games you must include on your toddler’s next play date.

Mud Pies

On a bright sunny day, go outside and make your own mud pies. Provide plastic spades, trowels, watering cans and containers such as aluminum foil pie tins and terracotta pots (to shape the pies) and some beads, sticks, rocks, flowers, leaves and other natural items to decorate the mud pies. Let the toddlers mix sand, dirt, potting soil and water to make the mud. Once they are done decorating, set the finished mud pies in the sun to bake.

Finger Painting

This is a classic messy game every toddler will love. Not only is finger painting a fun game but it also stimulates a toddler’s sensory and creative abilities. Prepare non-toxic washable finger paints in every color, cut-up sponge, bits of cloth and papers. Let the toddlers go crazy mixing paint with lots of water and letting them wash it onto their desired canvas. The children can use their hands, fingers and even their feet to create a masterpiece. Show them how you can use these prints to make pictures and patterns. Hang their artworks to dry and ask each toddler to give a brief explanation of his work of art. When it is time to leave, let the toddlers take them home as a souvenir of a fun and messy play date.

Mystery Piñatas

Use brown paper bags or dark-colored plastic bags to make piñatas. Place a different mystery item (they can be wet or dry items such as confetti, whipped or shaving cream or popped popcorn) in every bag along with some small gift items (e.g. stickers, eraser, keychain, etc.) or wrapped treats such as candies and chocolates and hang them to a tree branch or pole. Blindfold one toddler and give him a tennis racket or a small bat to smack the bag. Turn him around to make him a bit disoriented and then tell the toddler to swing at the bag. Once the contents of the bag fall, let the others gather around to get their prizes. After that, you can hang another piñata and repeat the game until every toddler has had the chance to take a swing.

Shaving Foam

Place a big storage tub or an inflatable pool in your garden. Give each toddler a can of shaving foam and let them squirt shaving foam into the container. You can add a few drops of food coloring to change the color and give them large plastic spoons or spades and a pail to play with. Or, they can just use their hands to scoop the slime.

Spaghetti Tag

Provide cooked spaghetti and start the game by giving a toddler a bag of spaghetti in his hands. He must tag others by making a piece of spaghetti stick to the players. Toddlers who are tagged must take out the spaghetti from their body and tag someone else with it.

These games may cause mayhem in your home and in children but messy play is a great way for toddlers to have fun while developing skills that are beneficial for their development.

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The ABC’s of Building A Safe Playground For Toddlers

Building a safe playground for toddlers require cautious planning and attention especially when it comes to safety issues. So before you go ahead and execute your plan, consult with an expert. Below are a few basic points you should keep in mind.

Avoid Weak Surfaces

A playground should withstand any pressure (e.g. weather conditions, kids’ weight, etc.). The safety of a playground relies on the foundation where it is being set-up. Do not build a playground in earth surfaces such as grass, soil and hard packed dirt. Asphalt and concrete surfaces should also be avoided as they are weak, tending to lose their ability to absorb shock when frequently used or during major environmental conditions which only result to serious head injury, or worse, death.

Use Flooring That Can Reduce The Effects of A Fall

First, make sure that the flooring you use can decrease the impacts of a fall. There are 2 types of flooring materials you can use – loose-filling materials and manufactured artificial surfaces.

Loose-filling materials consist of wood chips, fine sand, gravel, shredded bark mulch or rubber mulch and shredded tires. Although it is cheaper than manufactured synthetics, loose-fill materials cannot endure wet weather, freezing temperature and prolonged use. It requires regular maintenance and constant replacement to retain its depth.

Manufactured artificial surfaces include rubber mats comprised of rubber and urethane components (ideal for applications of geometric shapes and special graphics). Manufactured synthetic surface are more expensive but less maintenance is required. Plus, it also absorbs water very quickly keeping the playground dry and clean at all times.

Take note that the greater the depth, the greater the shock absorption. Be sure to ask the producer for test results on shock absorption.

Make Room For Space

Allowance is the key to having a safe playground. Always make room for more space. Hence, the floor should extend to over 6 feet past the play area. If the fort is over 4 feet, it would be a good idea to not leave the guard rails open. Make sure you keep them close together to prevent your toddler from getting his head trapped in between the rails. See to it that the railings are above 38 inches and most of all, ensure that there is adequate space that can grow as your toddler grows.

Create A Cushion Zone

A cushion or buffer zone is an area that lies between two or more other areas that is used either for adjoining or segregating. Use a cushion zone plastered with a protective surfacing material under and around all the equipment where a toddler might fall. It must be able to extend to at least 6 feet in all directions starting from the edge of the equipment. Make sure this area needs to be free of other equipments and barriers.

Attach Swing Sets Securely With Proper Spacing

The front and back of the swing should be big, one that extends out a minimum distance of twice the height of the swing (measured from the ground to the swing hangers). Swings should not be too close together to avoid injuries from the collision of moving swings. Spacing should be a minimum of 8 inches between swings, 8 inches from the support frame and 8 inches between the ground and base of the swings.

Divide The Playground Into Different Areas

To avoid collision, separate the playground into areas. Reserve a spot where toddlers can play in sandboxes or engage in various activities, an area for sliding and swinging and an area where toddlers can play house.

Keep in mind that no matter how safe a playground is, adult supervision is still crucial. While you may not totally stop things from happening, at least you are assured that your toddler can play freely without constantly worrying so much.

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Secrets To Successful Play Dates For Your Toddler

Play dates is a vital part of toddler development. For in this activity, children can thrive, learn how to interact with others and unleash hidden talents. Below are some simple tips on how to achieve fun and fuss-free play dates.

Schedule Play Dates Appropriately

Never schedule a play date when your toddler feels cranky, worn out, at nap time or just before meals. He will only be irritable and most likely not enjoy the activity. Timing is really important. Your little one should be rested and well-fed before he heads out to play with other children. Lunch play dates work really well for most toddlers. Invite his playmates a few hours before lunch, give them a light snack, let them play for at least 30 minutes and then the kids can head home just in time for their nap time.

Moreover, do not arrange too many play dates as these can erase the feeling of anticipation, so instead of enjoying, he will see it as work. Schedule play dates twice a week to give your little one something to look forward to. Remember, play dates should give toddlers a great time and not go home weepy and emotional. Also, play dates must be kept short. Long play sessions drain out his energy. Set a time limit of 30 minutes to an hour and a half.

Let Your Toddler Take The Lead

Ask your little one who he would like to invite over. If he is particularly fond of the kids at preschool, your local playground or your next door neighbour, invite them to come over. Your toddler’s playmates need not be the same age. Inviting a toddler that is a year ahead of him has some advantages. The older child can help direct play for the youngsters and teach them the importance of sharing and cooperation.

Get Creative

Play dates should not only consist of activities like coloring, drawing or running around the backyard. Be creative with your ideas. A do-it-yourself activity like make-your-own snacks is a sure-fire hit with toddlers. It keeps them busy, gives them the freedom to choose and is undoubtedly fun. Treasure hunts and arts and crafts projects are also an all-time favorite.

Hold destination dates or play dates outside the house. It gives toddlers a chance to explore and quench their inquisitive minds. A pool party, trip to the zoo, a visit to the nearest park or organizing a picnic day ensures everybody a grand time.


Children are full of life and it is common for them to have disagreements. Make sure you supervise them but do not interfere in times of confrontation. Let them resolve their own problems. Small disagreements do not last long and if you hang back you will find that the kids have worked out their own resolution. But once it gets physical, it is time to step in. Keep your calm, show your disapproval and make firm statements like “Hitting is not good. I cannot let you do that to each other.”.

Invite Moms

Have the kids’ moms come over as well. They can help you supervise the children especially during times when a kid starts wailing and you do not have any idea how to pacify him. In this way, children can have a blast and you get to have that much needed girl bonding as well.

Send A Memento

End a wonderful play date by sending each toddler off with a souvenir they helped create (e.g. a cookie, drawing or an instant photo of the children together). They will be excited to share these keepsakes with others and it will remind them what a great time they had.

Play dates give parents and toddlers a chance to build and strengthen bonds. Plus, children learn important social skills that can benefit their development while having fun.

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