School breaks are prime season for playdates. And playdates are great for kids and parents alike – your kids get to foster relationships with their friends, and you get the opportunity to get to know their friends’ parents too. But playdates can also be intimidating – more kids than you already have wreaking havoc in your house? A few pre-planned, easy playdate ideas can help the meet-up go more smoothly, while also keeping the fun centrally located.
5 Playdate Ideas to Build Friendships, Boost Learning
From the day school gets out, the kids start asking to have their friends over for playdates. In many ways, playdates make your life easier. The kids are entertained, and you often get to socialize as well. But the aftermath, with toys strewn from one end of your house to the other, can leave you questioning if it was worth it.
By having a few playdate ideas prepared, you can limit the mess, while encouraging your little playmates to learn through play with simple, engaging activities. Share your playdate ideas with Learning Resources on social media with #PlayandLearnPlaydate!
Play Games Indoors…
Whenever we host playdates, our Learning Resources toys have always been big hits. The vibrant colors, the appropriateness for multi-age groups, and their multi-purpose uses have always attracted the kids, while their durability makes them virtually indestructible… even with baby siblings want to play too.
As the girls have grown older, games have increasingly taken over the playroom. Some of our recent favorites are Alphabet Marks the Spot and Riddle Moo This. Alphabet Marks the Spot is Twister-esque, with a durable vinyl floor mat. But instead of colors, you are looking for letters. It can be played in a multitude of ways – from walking the alphabet or stepping out sight words, and also includes six inflatable dice with images you can also use for recognizing beginning sounds (or even toddlers can play just by naming the pictures).
While the giant dice are the kids’ favorite feature of Alphabet Marks the Spot, the animal sound buzzers are their favorite feature of Riddle Moo This. Win barn cards by being the first to buzz in to answer the riddle.
…Or More Active Games Outside
While Alphabet Marks the Spot gets kids moving indoors, sometimes you need to let them stretch their legs a little more. Taking the playdate outside is a great way to spare your home from mess. Host your own Summer Olympics right in the backyard with these 5 hula hoop games!
All you need is hula hoops, sidewalk chalk and colored washers.
Share a Sensory Bin
Sensory bins are great sources of hands-on learning for kids that will keep them engaged forever. The bin also keeps all the fun in one spot. All you need is a large plastic storage container, a filler, and small toys or cups to play with in the bin.
Some favorites in our house are theme-based – like this Farm Animals Sensory Bin using colored rice as a filler, farm animals and blocks or this Glow in the Dark Space Sensory Bin featuring water beads as filler, stars and planets.
For a playdate, you may want to super-size your sensory bin. You can use a plastic baby pool like Busy Toddler does in her Giant Rice Sensory Pool.
Slime sounds messy, but it’s really not… and it serves as a dual purpose playdate idea. Once you make it, the kids will play with it for days. All you need to make it is glue, contact solution and baking soda. If you want to vary it up, you can add food coloring, glitter or sequins. You can find a multitude of Slime recipe variations here.
Take a Field Trip
Want to know the easiest way to keep the chaos from descending upon your house? Plan a playdate field trip where you meet-up elsewhere. Pick a local park, museum, nature trail, splash pad or local, kid-friendly attraction.
Having more than one adult always makes these adventures easier, even with more kids. And your kids with bond and learn over the shared experience!
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, and by all means you should let kids be kids and just play, but starting with a planned, playdate idea is often a great way to kick things off. What are your favorite playdate ideas? Don’t forget to share them with Learning Resources using #PlayandLearnPlaydate.
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