Activities for toddlers :: imaginary play

We’re mid-way through our special series on activities for toddlers. If you’ve been following along with us you’ll have already seen our ideas for sensory play, arts and craft and math games. Today we’re all about imaginary play, with ideas for setting up a shop, going camping in your playroom, and hosting a posh tea party. We also have ideas for children who love dinosaurs, pirates and dens.

activities for toddlers imaginary play

Activities for toddlers :: imaginary play [Read more…]

Create a Pixie Post Office

just so festival pixie post office

I’ve written before about making writing irresistible so children are encouraged to pick up a pencil and start writing and in my last post this week from the Just So Festival I thought you’d like to see their wonderful way to invite all the children to send someone a letter: a pixie post office provided by the FairyLand Trust.

Which child wouldn’t want to pop inside this tent to discover what was on offer inside? [Read more…]

Playing dens

playing dens

A strange new habitat has appeared in our playroom – what could it be?

how to make a den

Secret surveillance cameras reveal signs of life – glimpses of the wild creatures inside.

playing cubbys

Special cameras attached to the animals allow us to penetrate deep into the burrow, where no adults may enter.

kids photos

The footage reveals that, deep underground, these creatures like to play…

a den

…and sleep in four poster beds.

B says ‘playing dens is our favourite thing ever’. I say a whole day’s worth of happy, imaginative play is well worth having a messy room to tidy.

If your children love dens (or forts or cubbies) too, they might like the ideas in B’s guide to building dens.

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happily shared with abcand123 and we play and  the learning laboratory and  link and learn and  preschool corner and  it’s playtime

Building dens

playing dens

When did your children last build a den? I’m pretty sure my two build one at least once a week. When B had transformed our sofa into one at the weekend she told me to take a photo and put it on our blog, so this is B’s play recommendation to your children this week: build a den.

I suspect it’s instinctive in us to want to build a shelter and that’s perhaps what first starts children on a den building mission. I think my two love dens so much because they can create a secure and cosy little world in which they are the boss. They will sometimes call their den a house, a cave, a tent, a castle but I’ve noticed they always like to be surrounded by walls and a roof. Most often they’ll build one which is just the right size for them to squeeze into, certainly they’re always too small for a grown-up to fit in. I wonder if they intend this?

I don’t think children particularly need to be shown how to play dens – with all the children I’ve worked with they seem to occur naturally- but I do always ensure there are materials available the children can use, to facilitate this kind of play. It’s a very good type of play for mixed age groups and I’ve found that even toddlers enjoy having a den.

Dens open  up a world of imaginary play for children and there’s a lot of creativity, design, problem solving and construction skills being developed as they play. If you’re inspired to build one this week, here are our ideas (with lots of suggestions from B) on what makes a great den.

Space – Children can build a den anywhere: inside, outside, under the kitchen table, on the sofa, on their bed, in a cardboard box. I’d encourage you to let your children have some freedom to choose the location of their den, perhaps agreeing how long the construction can stay up and that they’ll help tidy it away afterwards.We’re fortunate to have a playroom with a battered old sofa, so I’m quite happy for the children to pull it apart and use it to build with, and we also have a wide landing that they like to use but we do agree that dens can’t be built on the stairs or blocking the hallway, for safety and practical reasons. (I quite often hear myself calling out ‘make a pathway!’ as they start to play.)

Materials – B’s list of great building materials includes sofa cushions, garden chair cushions, tables, dining chairs, bed sheets, big pieces of fabric, big branches and garden parasols laid on their side. She recommends scarves, string and clothes pegs to fasten things together, and knotting things around chairs, banisters and door handles. Big boxes and chairs are good for holding up a roof.

Props -The design of our playspace gives the children easy access to our resources so they can grab what they’d like to include in their play. Somethings which they often use, and which you might like to make available, include pots and pans and picnic items, torches, pillows and sleeping bags or blankets, clipboards with paper and pencils.

Books - The girls very often end up taking books into their dens and settling down to read in there. There are some picture books on the theme of ‘dens’ in our book shop. I’d love to hear your recommendations if you have any other favourite books about dens.

Are your children keen den builders?

happily shared with We Play and Tot Tuesday and Monkeying Around and ABCand123