Thursday, 9 February 2012

Inspiring play tables

by Amanda of Amanda Brooke

Tomorrow we are collecting my nephews and bringing them home to stay with us for a few days. I am looking forward to getting to know the 'little men' that I mostly see throughout the year only when we celebrate birthdays and Christmas. They are both under 5 and I have been planning some play experiences to keep them happy and occupied whilst my own children are at school.

Whilst we do have plenty to do around the house it is nice to have some ideas 'up my sleeve' just in case some boredom and 'missing mum and dad' moments set in!

Something I invested in when working in children's services is a low play table. It has been used for all sorts of play and I especially like to make little themed displays. Sometimes these were strongly themed like this one below.

Sometimes the play space was less structured and set up to encourage the children to create their own ideas and play.

I think I'll make up a table based on my nephews current interests (farms, cars or trains) for them to play with tomorrow. You don't need a big space to create something like this. Even a place mat on the floor with a few different items based on your child's interests will be enough to create a new play space for your child.

Some themed ideas are:
  • Recycled items eg. paper tubes, milk bottle caps and rings etc (safe for age)
  • Colour tables eg. a red table containing only red objects in different shades of red
  • Farm, jungle, beach, forest themes
  • Different countries and cultures
  • Items with different textures

You can include toys, objects from around the house, hand made props, scarves and coloured fabrics, books and boxes/blocks for building. A good idea is to partially create the space and let your child continue to build on it. Leave the space set up until your child loses interest and then return to re-create another inspiring table!

These spaces needn't be full of new or toy related items. The best spaces use items from around your home or from nature. They needn't cost anything to make.

It's going to be a fun few days here!