Tea Party Place Mat Craft & Pretend Play

Tea parties are a big part of our daily pretend play. My daughter loves hosting them for her dad and brother and I thought it was time to jazz our tea parties up a little. This tea party place mat craft for kids is seriously simple! Stickers are such a great art material once kids have passed the ” I will eat everything I touch” phase. They offer wonderful fine motor development and at an age where everything turns into a huge mess stickers are virtually mess free.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a tea set ( play or real if you have it) , some party napkins , clear contact paper, stickers ,and scissors. I also grabbed a few real cookies as a surprise for our guests at the tea party.
  2. Start by putting stickers on your napkins. She was very specific about which stickers she would put on each place mat since she was making them for her dad and brother. I made one for myself at the same time. Crafting along side toddlers is a great way to model how to do the craft without direct instruction and those power struggles that toddlers are so famous for. 
  3. After she decided they all had just the right stickers on them I cut a large piece of contact paper  and laid the napkins sticker side down on it.
  4. Then added a second on top to sandwich the napkins between the sheets of contact paper. Make sure the napkins have enough space between them so you can trim .Pressed and cut .
  5. Then it was time to set the table.
  6. All ready! Time to invite the guests.
  7. Play!
  8. I hid the Oreos in the play kitchen and after everyone was seated I told her to open the oven and get the cookies. Of course everyone thought I was referring to play cookies and it was great to see such a simple surprise delight all the guests.
  9. The play continued until my son invited us to a Lego building party in his room. Which was fun but as you can see not quite as refined as our tea party.

 

 

Color & Clean Car Wash Play For Toddlers

I usually brainstorm general ideas from interests my kids have , lessons I want to teach them or themes from books we’ve discovered. Then some days your toddler is antsy and you grab window markers and decide to color and clean the ride on toys you have on your deck.  This car wash play was so much fun. We have washed toy cars and trucks many times before but this was a great way to mix in some creativity . My one disclaimer is to please test the window markers on your toy cars before assuming they will wipe off. Ours did without any issue even the bits that weren’t wiped right away but I’d hate for any toys to get ruined so please test first!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some window markers, some warm water, a soapy sponge and some plastic riding toys.toddler activities
  2. Start by coloring the cars.
  3. Don’t mind the dirt , that car is used as a tank in my son’s imaginary WWII play with pine cone bombs and is more than ready for a wash.
  4. She loved making dots. One tip is to use dark colors that show up well first to give your toddler a good sense of making marks. The pale ones may frustrate young ones when they are hard to see.toddler activites
  5. Dip your sponge in the water . To be honest I think she liked wringing out the sponge more than anything and I liked that she was having fun.
  6. Wipe away the coloring.

We will definitely be doing this simple activity again and again! I already have ideas for my son that include spelling words.

 

Cooking in the Sink – Sensory Pretend Play

water table ideas for preschool Even though I wish all summer could be spent outside rainy days or too hot days means more time inside and for antsy toddlers that can be hard. This activity occupied my 2 year old for a good 40 minutes and she had fun too. Below are a few tips on how to make play like this last longer without sparing the fun.

  1. Gather your materials. We grabbed an apron, a pot, some corks, spoons and a ladle . We also used dish soap half way through.
  2. Start by filling the sink and asking your child if they want to cook.
  3. Let them play.
  4. Without prompting she threw some corks in and then scooped them out and into the pot. Can you say hand eye coordination development ?
  5. She mixed and splashed . When she was tiring of it I asked if she wanted to look at all the different tools for cooking. She loved the whisk.
  6. Next I asked if she wanted bubbles…of course that was a yes too .water play for kids
  7. The whisk was extra fun in the bubbles. She even caught a cork.
  8. For us the sign that she was done was that these big waves turned into let’s make Mama wet even after reminders that the water stays in the sink. You will find your child’s own end signs where gentle redirection fails and every day will be different, some days this will last a long time others it just won’t. It’s not you or your child it’s just the way it is, if it fails try again another day. 

Throughout the pretend play I followed her lead. She told me it was cheese soup and I asked her questions about her cheese soup, about cooking etc… I know that pretending doesn’t come naturally to all parents but try to at least ask a few questions and indulge their imaginations. It’s OK to feel silly sometimes even if it doesn’t come naturally.

 

Pretend Play Toy Store

activities for kids Pretend play is such an important part of preschool learning and while we do our fair share of just crawling around like cats and putting on bad English accents and pretending to be Harry Potter and friends we also love pretend play set ups like this one.  Setting the scene can boost endless play possibilities especially with kids that aren’t self starters for pretend play. Don’t tell them how to play, just set the scene and play along or let them fly solo.  Store play is great for incorporating learning about money, talking about manners, reading and even sorting things. Don’t worry about fitting in a lesson though – play is the lesson, let it happen.

  1. Gather your materials. The best part of this activity is that you use what you have and one thing most families have a lot of are toys. My son loves to keep his toy packages and I finally found a good use for them! You may also want to grab some paper, markers, and painter’s tape.  For some store props try a name badge, phone and cash register. If you don’t have a play cash register ( we don’t ) I find an old lap top works perfectly.notimeforflashcards
  2. Start by making signs for the sections of the store. This is the bulk of the prep for this scenario. This is great for reading especially for emergent readers who with the aid of the context can successfully read many of the signs.  A Price chart offers the chance to read numbers as well. notimeforflashcards
  3. Next organize the room or part of the room as a store with some simple displays. I loved doing this and as you will see my son shares that love. notimeforflashcards
  4. As soon as I was done arranging it was time to pick up my son from school and play. I usually set these up as surprises … he loved it . notimeforflashcards
  5. My daughter claimed the cashier job .notimeforflashcards.com
  6. My son read the prices.
  7. My son immediately ran to his room to get more Lego to step up.
  8. My daughter helped me find a baby doll. Then refused to sell it to me. She’s still learning the concept that customers are always right.
  9. As everyone knows when you work in a toy store the best part is you can test the merchandise – which is what we did the rest of the afternoon after nap and a new pair of PJs.

I really encourage you to pretend with your kids whether it’s a big event pretend play like this or the random and magical ones when they walk up to you and announce that they are no longer your child they are in fact a wizard… oh and you are too. It’s so important for them to imagine , to practice life skills and try on different roles in a safe place . So imagine with them and play.

 

 

Pretend Play – Vet Clinic

Pretend Play Vet Clinic

Pretend play is probably my favorite part of early childhood education because there are countless lessons hidden in every pretend play scenario. We turned our playroom into a vet clinic simply by mixing a few stuffed animals with our trusty doctor kit and rearranging the furniture. It was fast for me to set up and both kids enjoyed taking care of their animals. Along the way they learned about body parts, empathy and my son and I had a nice chat about prescriptions and why it’s important to only ever take medicine the doctor has specifically prescribed for you .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some stuffed animals, a play doctor kit , some paper, a clip board, marker , and a bench or table to use as an exam table. I added a basket for my daughter who wanted to tuck her patients into bed after she examined them.
  2. Set up a waiting area with furniture and books – our books were all about dogs and cats, you can check out our reviews after the tutorial.
  3. Set up an exam room. I labeled each area and encourage you to as well, it helps deepen the play as well as adds some reading to the activity. Pretend Play Vet Clinic
  4. Make a check list for older kids who are reading and either have them write or circle answers. Can you tell I did this in a hurry? It was almost time to get my son from school. Best thing is he didn’t care, as long as he could read it no need to be perfect!
  5. Play! My daughter examined her cat trying out each instrument and having just had her own 18 month old check up she was familiar with many of them. I chatted with her as she played but didn’t intervene unless she interacted with me. I did pretend to nurse the cat as per her request.
  6. She loves her patients!
  7. With my son I pretended to be the dog and cat’s owners but followed his lead.
  8. We worked in measurement and gave the pup a little oxygen.
  9. The puppy got a clean bill of health!

Books About Cats and Dogs

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake (If You Give… Books) by Laura Numeroff is one of the newer “If You Give…” series. I like this one , I mean any book with a cat in a bathing suit is worth a look. I am a big fan of these stories not only because they have just the right amount of text for young preschoolers, but also because the illustrations by Felicia Bond are so detailed you can spend ages talking about what your child sees in the book after the words are read. I love the cause and effect , and after a few readings your child will have fun telling you what’s next.

Otto Goes to Bed by Todd Parr is a really fun and positive book. Otto is a dog who doesn’t want to go to bed, he wants to play, chase his tail and a bath and brushing teeth don’t help. Instead he figures out that there is something he likes about bedtime, dreaming! I like that this book addresses that going to bed feels like missing out on things for kids, I know I felt like that for years. Instead of blankly saying “Sleeping is great” or “You have to go to bed” this book finds something positive about going to bed . The illustration of Otto as a super hero dog makes my son howl with laughter every time.

Otto Goes to the Beach by Todd Parr was a steal of a deal at the Goodwill ! I got a hardcover in perfect condition for 70 cents. My bargain hunting aside, I really enjoy this book as did my son. Otto is a dog who goes to the beach but no one wants to do the same things as he does, even the fish swim the other way! In the end after feeling very sad Otto finds a new friend and all his misery is forgotten. I love Todd Parr books, I love the insanely bright colors, the cute simplistic illustrations and I love the messages they send. This book followed his other books perfectly and provided a great final message about not giving up finding a friend who will like all the same things you do!

This post was shared on Nurture Store’s Play Academy