Super simple play ideas #fiveforfriday

Pregnancy is a lot more tiring than I remember… That is, I do recall thinking it was hard work and coming home from work to collapse on the sofa for the evening, but I don’t think it was as bone-crushingly knackering as I’m finding it this time. Of course, I didn’t have a very active toddler first time round who makes it pretty impossible to have any downtime during the day (and who has stopped sleeping through the night for some reason, gah!).

Super simple play ideas #fiveforfriday

Anyway, this means that I am all about easy play ideas these days. If the activity can be directed from the sofa, so much the better ;)

So, my #fiveforfriday links this week are all about super simple ways to play – low prep, low mess and encouraging independent play as much as possible.

1. Puzzle hunt

This is a genius idea for breathing new life into old puzzles from No Time For Flash Cards. Hide the puzzle pieces around the room (in more or less obvious places depending on how quickly you think your little one will find them) and then let the hunt begin! I love this; we’re definitely going to be giving it a go!

2. Loose parts picture frame

Such a sweet and simple idea from Octavia and Vicky: gather a collection of loose parts, such as pom poms, pipecleaners, bottle tops, small animal toys etc, and lay them out alongside an empty picture frame as an open ended invitation to play. ToddlerGirl is really enjoying investigating with various loose parts at the moment and the beauty of this is the scope for the play to end up going in any direction.

3. Cars and crayons

This is a really easy activity to set up (from Picklebums but found via the At Home With Ali blog). All you need is a roll of paper, some crayons and a stack of toy cars. Draw some roads and any other details you like and leave it all out to play with. I tried this with ToddlerGirl a little while back and it was a big hit. She enjoyed driving the cars up and down the roads, stopping every now and then to add some additional scribbles to the paper. I think it would be even better now, as her pretend play has come along so much it would add a whole new element to the activity.

4. Kitchen cupboard activities

5pm really is the witching hour in our house. If I haven’t been organised enough to get dinner going in advance of this, it can be incredibly stressful trying to juggle a toddler’s demands along with cooking the family meal. And I’m really not a very organised person, so witching hour is a pretty common occurrence! That’s why I like these easy peasy ideas from Nuturestore for keeping little hands busy when you need twenty minutes – all things that can be whipped out of the kitchen cupboards!

5. Playdough!

Playdough has to be the ultimate material for quick and easy play. It’s low mess and there are so many different ways to use it, so it never needs to get boring. When ToddlerGirl first started exploring playdough, she simply enjoyed squishing it and poking things into it. It was a lovely sensory experience and great for her fine motor skills. Now, she is incorporating her small world toys (dinosaurs are the current favourite!) to add a pretend play element. There are so many wonderful ideas out there for what to do with playdough but I love this post from The Artful Parent with thirty nine different ways to play, including literacy, science and art ideas.

What are your go-to easy play activities? There are more ideas on my Super Simple Play board on Pinterest.

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