Play is vitally important to children’s growth, development, and relationship building. Especially during this time, when regular routines are changing, and our sense of stability may be challenged, it is important for parents and caregivers to engage with children through play. The act of playing together shows children that even though other things around them might look different, their relationships haven’t changed. The knowledge that the adults in their lives are engaging with them and supporting them through change and confusion is one of the best gifts that you can give a child!

Here are some play experiences to try at home!

Sensory Bottles

  • Place small items that you have lying around the house (beads, buttons, glitter, rainbow loom elastics, etc.) into a clear water bottle and fill the bottle with water.
  • Add some food colouring, soap for bubbles, or hair gel to help the water flow more slowly.
  • Put some hot glue around the rim of the bottle and close the lid tightly. This helps prevent small children from opening the bottle and having access to the contents.

Sensory bottles can be a great way to support children while dealing with big emotions. When your child feels upset, you can encourage them to shake the bottle as hard as they can to make the water swirl. Then sit together as you watch the water and the things inside settle. Encourage them to take some deep breaths and relax their body as the water begins to calm. The visual of the water moving from shaken to calm is a great way to visualize our changing emotions.

Go Fishing!

  • Draw, colour and cut out fish of various shapes, and clip a paper clip to each.
  • Tie one end of a string to a magnet and the other end to a stick or pencil.
  • Place the fish on the floor (or in a bowl) and use the stick like a fishing rod to catch the fish with the magnet.

To add another element to this game, you could draw each fish with a different emotion and talk about the emotions as you catch the fish. “I wonder why he’s sad”? “What made you feel happy today”?

Sorting Games

  • Work with your child to collect rocks, leaves, twigs, etc. from the yard.
  • Sort them into different sections of a muffin tin.
  • You can sort anything! Different types of toys, buttons, coloured paper, shapes, you name it!

Once your child is comfortable with this type of sorting you can add another layer by having them sort by multiple characteristics, such as size and type of object. Large rocks vs. small rocks, small rocks vs. small leaves, etc.

Bubble Snake

  • Cut a plastic water bottle in half. You will need the top half of the bottle for your bubble snake.
  • Cover the cut end of the top half of your bottle with a washcloth and secure it with an elastic band. You want a good seal, so the tighter the elastic, the better!
  • Mix equal parts dish soap and water in a shallow container. Start with a small amount, you can always mix more.
  • Dip the washcloth into the bubble mixture, blow through the top of the bottle and watch your bubble snake come to life!

Sidewalk Chalk Paint

  • Mix equal parts corn starch and water in a small container.
  • Leave as-is for white paint or add food colouring*.
  • Have fun and be creative! The paint becomes brighter as it dries.

*Test on a small part of the pavement first to ensure that the colour will wash off

Evangeline Campeau, ECE – Early Childhood Educator

Did you know we’re live on Instagram every Thursday at 7:30 pm?

We first shared these fun playtime ideas during our live Instagram conversation, on Thursday, April 16.

Each week, our counsellors and guests are talking about building strong families and sharing ideas for how families are adjusting to new circumstances. Join in and ask questions, or just take in the conversation.

Grab your mobile device and head over to our Instagram page (@catholicfamilyservice) on Thursdays evenings at 7:30, then click on our live feed to tune in.