Your kiddo just invited their pre-k pals over, and now you’re in charge of playdate planning. With a not-so-mature attention span, constant curiosity and boundless energy, it’s obvious that you need to fill the day with fun, fun and more fun. But that doesn’t mean you have to twist yourself into a human tornado, barreling through the house to orchestrate activity after activity.
Instead of over-complicating things, check out these easy activities for small groups. Not only are they low-stress ideas for you, but they’re also big on the kid-centered entertainment factor. Oh, and easy to clean up too!
Put all that kid-powered energy to use and hold a playdate dance party. Pick a playlist of child-friendly tunes that will get the kids up and moving around. Keep in mind, you don’t need to only pick the good ol’ standards or “children’s music.” Listen for upbeat tunes and make sure that the lyrics are completely appropriate for little ears. This playdate activity comes with one major bonus — no clean-up involved.
Okay, okay, so this one isn’t exactly crazy-creative. But it is fun. And you can easily adapt it to help the littles unleash their imaginations. Instead of leading with a walk, run, hop or skip, move like an animal or come up with a silly swagger. And again, this activity helps the kiddos to release their energy and requires absolutely no clean-up time.
Finger painting fun is…well, it’s messy. Sure the kids get into the craftiness and sensory play of it all. But then you’re stuck wiping dozens of paint splatters and a rainbow of handprints off of the walls. Cut down on the mess factor with these easy, and artsy, ideas. Instead of paint, use soft modeling clay. The kids can push the clay onto cardboard, using the same motion that they would when finger painting. If you absolutely, positively want to use real paint, put it in a bag — a taped, zipper baggie that is. The kids can smash, swirl and move the paint around, mixing colors or making marks, from the outside of the bag.
Gather together building blocks, reused plastic containers, cardboard boxes or anything else that your child can build with. Split the kids into teams and challenge them to build the tallest tower in the fastest time. When they’re done, stash the building supplies in a box and keep them nearby for the next big build.
Roll out butcher paper or plain gift wrap and have the kid take turns tracing each other. After everyone has their own tracing, they can decorate them using crayons and markers. Help the kids to make life-sized masterpiece portraits. They can turn themselves into astronauts, police officers, kings, queens or anyone else they can imagine.
Sometimes the weather won’t cooperate. And that means the kids are stuck inside. When it’s cold, snowy or rainy out, bring the gross motor play inside and create your own indoor Olympics course. Make a slalom slope in your living room, setting up markers for the kids to “ski” around. You can also create an obstacle course, using pillows, furniture or anything else for the kids to run, hop, roll or crawl around.
Set up a simple science activity in your kitchen or playroom. This playdate idea combines entertainment and education into one! Try a sink or float experiment, where the kids have to guess if objects will sink to the bottom of a bucket or tub of water or float. Other easy science activities include looking through prisms, using a microscope to explore leaves or flowers or going on a backyard nature scavenger hunt.
As your child and their playdate pals rotate through all the awesome activities you’ve set up, snap pics of the fun. After the playdate ends you can use the photos to make keepsake picture books for yourself and the other kids’ families!