Showing posts with label Pretend Play. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pretend Play. Show all posts

Monday, February 25, 2013

Coloring Book Puppets

Don't let the coloring book fun end when the picture is completed! Extend the fun and add a healthy dose of creativity by turning finished coloring book pages into puppets. This craft and pretend play combo would make a wonderful boredom busting activity.

coloring book puppet play

Items Needed:

  • coloring books
  • crayons
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • craft sticks
  • construction paper (optional)
  • laminator and laminating pouches (optional)

The Craft:

I began by showing R a few coloring page puppets I had created for him the night before. He was very excited about his surprise and couldn't wait to make a few of his own. I did this to show him what the finished outcome would be, and to prepare him for cutting apart his masterpiece.

Then I supplied him with a selection of coloring books and crayons and let him go wild. After he had a few pages completed, we carefully cut out the main characters. This actually kept his attention far longer than coloring usually does.

coloring book puppets, boredom buster, pretend play with puppets

You can keep it incredibly simple and just glue the craft sticks to the back of the cut out. This way works just fine, but the puppets are a little floppy. You could also attach the cut outs onto a piece of construction paper or card stock and cut it out again before attaching the craft sticks. This makes the puppets a bit stiffer.

Or you could do it my favorite way. Laminate them. I love my laminator and it really is perfect for this. It makes the puppets stiff and durable so they are long lasting, and it doesn't add much extra time to the craft. Even with the lamination, we just used an ordinary glue stick to attach the craft sticks. 

The Play:

Once the puppets were completed the creativity carried on. He really enjoyed putting on lots of little shows for me, and I really enjoyed listening to his stories evolve. Later that night, we all took turns performing for the family.

coloring book puppets, boredom buster

Do you want to encourage storytelling and pretend play with puppets? This activity is fantastic because you can really customize it to your child's interests. If you've recently walked down the coloring book aisle, I'm sure you've seen that the options are many. My son loves animals and dinosaurs, so that's what we created. But if your child loves sea creatures, Batman, or My Little Pony, you can easily create an activity especially for them.

What kind of puppets would your children love?

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Construction Pretend Play Prompt

construction worker theme, pretend play, play prompt

I put R to work. And he couldn't have been happier! He really enjoyed this construction worker pretend play prompt, and with several simple construction sites to choose from, he played for hours! I'm sharing this post over at the Melissa & Doug blog today, so please visit the link for more details and a printable.

Pretend play is such a vital part of childhood. What are your favorite ways to encourage it?

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

African Safari with Whittle World

pretend play african safari with Whittle World toy review

We value creative play and I'm always on the look out for toys that promote creative play. I've had my eye on the Whittle World line for some time now, so I was ecstatic when Melissa & Doug sent me the Whittle World Airplane and Luggage Carrier Set to review. (By the way, I honestly cannot say "Whittle World" without giggling. Genius name! Get it?)

Whittle world airplane and luggage carrier toy review

These toys are absolutely fantastic. R was excited to play with them and immediately made up several of his own pretend play scenarios. I love that this set can encourage play to go in many different directions. And the quality is impressive. I can see R happily playing with them for years to come. 

These toys do not require any fancy set up. Your child's imagination will be enough! But I thought it would be nice to help set up a special activity based on R's love for animals. 

simple african safari small world set up

I was thinking a safari trip to Africa was in order! R loved the idea and was eager to help as we turned a box into the African plains. We kept it simple, and covered the box in green tissue paper. We made a tissue paper watering hole and added a few other details with construction paper. We also made a couple trees from paper lunch bags and bits of tissue paper. For the animals, we colored coloring pages from here, here, and here. We cut the animals out and I made a stand from poster board for each one. This allows the animals to stand upright and be easily moved. We had so much fun working on this project together, and the fun was just beginning!

pretend play plane flies through the air

All of the little people boarded the plane. Their luggage was loaded on, and the pilot announced their take off. Zoom! They're off! R made the sound effects as he flew the plane around and around. This was an activity in itself!

pretend play african safari small world

But after a long flight, it was finally time to land. The little people began their African safari and had a blast taking pictures of the animals. One man swam with a hippo, while another narrowly escaped being charged by a rhino! He played and played until it was time to go inside and put his toys away. 

This was really three activities rolled into one! He's already brainstorming more small world scenes for his imaginative play, and I'm brainstorming more ways to use these toys as learning tools. Everyone is happy. 

{Disclosure- I received this Whittle World Airplane and Luggage Carrier Set from Melissa & Doug for review. I was not compensated in any other way and the views and opinions expressed here are both honest and my own. We plan on *purchasing* the other sets. I'm thinking Christmas? Shh!}

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Our Guide to Dress Up Play

a guide to dress up play for kids

We absolutely love dress up and pretend play. R spends the majority of his time playing in other worlds, pretending to be something from his dreams, or acting out the stories from his favorite books. It makes sense for me to start writing more about this, and I look forward to sharing more ideas! But before I do, I thought I'd take a look back and spotlight a resource that's already here- my series on dress up play.

reasons why you should let your kids play dress up

The Benefits of Dress Up Play shares six reasons why dress up play is a great way to spend time as a child. They are playing, and play is important!

how to build a dress up play wardrobe for kids

Dress up play is important! Now to build a wardrobe. Fancy store bought costumes make great gifts, but aren't needed. This post shares creative and inexpensive ways to build a child's dress up stash. 

how to organize your child's dress up clothes

Creating a dress up space can make your child's wardrobe seem more inviting. Plus, it helps corral it all into one place. Click here to see how we made the most out of a very small space.

ways to extend dress up play for kids

Has dress up play lost its appeal? This post shares five ways to add a bit of variety and extend your child's play.

I really enjoyed writing this series, and I hope you enjoyed reading. Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments of this post, or on my Facebook page. I'd love to know how your family does dress up!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Camp Sunny Patch: Puppet Show Comedy Hour

Camp sunny patch puppets and jokes

Have you been following along with Camp Sunny Patch? R and I had so much fun putting a spin on the talent show activity in session 6. Since R has been practicing telling jokes and honing his talent for comedy, we decided to do a puppet show comedy hour! 

To get the details and a few ideas (and jokes) for your own puppet show comedy hour, you can visit my post on the Melissa and Doug blog. 

While you're there, I hope you'll take a look around and get caught up on any activities you might have missed. Camp Sunny Patch is full of backyard fun ideas. And awesome giveaways!

Stopping by from Melissa & Doug? Please take a look around! You can subscribe to my feed or follow me on Facebook for future updates. 

{Disclosure- I was compensated to be a part of Camp Sunny Patch. The views and opinions expressed are my own.}

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Paper Bag Puppet Kit

Do it yourself paper bag puppet kit

I am so excited to share this idea! I'm excited because this paper bag puppet kit was so simple to put together and R loved it. I'm also happy to say that it was a fun new activity for family time. But I'm crazy thrilled with this activity because it bought me a good two hours of (mostly) uninterrupted time to myself. And as a mother to an only child (or as a mother in general), this is huge!

The Kit

This kit was easy to put together and would make a great gift or rainy day activity. And it was cheap. I basically just gathered bits and pieces from my stash of craft materials and some paper lunch bags. I put it all in a see through container, made a cute little label, and gave it to my son to craft with and explore.

{By the way, if you'd like the above image as a label as well, feel free to print one for your own personal use. Just right click the picture, open in new tab, and print. I printed mine on sticker paper.}

contents of the paper bag puppet kit

Content Ideas

  • crayons, markers, colored pencils
  • googly eyes
  • sequins
  • glue, glue stick, tape
  • pipe cleaners
  • feathers
  • bits of yarn and ribbon
  • buttons
  • scrap paper, construction paper, card stock
  • scissors
  • cotton balls
  • scraps of felt or fabric
  • hole punch
  • paper lunch bags (brown and/or white)

The Play

I gave R the little box full of treasures and let him set up at the kitchen table. I put down an old poster board to catch some of the stray color and glue and I walked away. I went and did some chores and I just let him create. And wow did he create! He was engrossed in this craft for a long time, only stopping occasionally to show me what he had made or to go play with his latest puppet. 

creating a puppet out of a paper bag

That's the beauty of this activity. After they have fun making their puppets, they'll want to play with their new friends. It's arts and crafts, imaginative play, and storytelling all in one!

paper bag puppet play

I walked into R's playroom to find him playing with his alien puppet and his current obsession- the toys from his Safari Ltd. Space TOOB. (More on that later!) My favorite line from his elaborate plot was, "then, it was all left up to the monkey!"

The play and imagination were still going strong by the time R's daddy got home from work, so we made some puppets together as a family. We each kept our puppet a secret until it was finished. It was a nice time filled with guesses and giggles.

This paper bag puppet kit was a big hit. R has already mentioned making a few as presents, and I plan on restocking ours to put up for a rainy day. We'll be having more puppet fun in the future!

{If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing or following me on Facebook for more updates. Thank you so much for reading.}

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sidewalk Chalk Farm

Play with farm animals and toys on a sidewalk chalk farm

Sidewalk chalk is a staple of our summers. We even keep it in our summer fun activity bag so we have some whenever we'd like. And we love to use sidewalk chalk as a base for more pretend play.  On this day we added some animals and other toys to make a sidewalk chalk farm for a fun playdate. 

Draw a sidewalk chalk farm for pretend play

We started by drawing the base of the farm. We drew a farmhouse, barn, pond, lots of grassy spots for the animals to graze, a dirt road, and sun.

Play with farm animals and toys on a sidewalk chalk farm

Then we added the toys! The boys set up various areas of the farm before they decided to do some farm work. They plowed the fields, fed the animals, and went fishing in the pond. This definitely encouraged pretend play and sharing.

This is such a great activity because you can really tailor it to your kids' interests! We've had a lot of fun with pretend play cities where we only needed an imagination, the sidewalk chalk, and a few cars.

A Tip for Playdates:

Encourage each family to contribute a type of toy. Have the toys differ for ease in pick up and to ensure that the toys go back to the right home without quarrels or confusion. For instance, one family could bring the animals and another family could bring the tractors.

You might also like:

Letter Sounds Hopscotch

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pretend Play- Fishing

Pretend Play Fishing- An imagination is the only requirement!

Fishing is such a wonderfully fun and relaxing way to spend the afternoon. But if you can't get to a body of water, what are you to do? Pretend fishing, of course! This is such a simple and fun activity that will stretch your child's imagination (and your's if you choose).


  • Imagination- The only thing you truly need. Props are just a bonus.
  • Fishing Pole- Ours is an old piece of unused PVC pipe with a string and bobber tied onto it. You could use a stick or a dowel. Or nothing tangible at all.
  • Boat- Ours is a boat made from a huge cardboard box and hot glue. You could use any box or laundry basket big enough for your child to sit in. Or nothing tangible at all. :)
  • Extra People- (Or pets) For fish! Or they could just imagine the fish.

The Play:

Solo- If your child has never fished and has no idea what to do, you could show them how to play by demonstrating yourself. Pretend to catch a great big fish. Pretend it gets away. Have fun with it. Then let them takeover. Let them make up their own stories and scenarios and watch how their play evolves. R's imaginative play usually starts slowly and then speeds up and changes direction as he gets more engrossed in the activity and really puts himself into the story. For instance, this time his play started out as him catching fish and such, and evolved into catching sharks and swimming to shore for more bait. It was entertaining to watch!

Ideas for group play for fishing pretend play

Group- Want to join in on the fun? Maybe you could both do the fishing. Or take turns fishing for one another (or siblings and friends). We made up silly songs to trick the fish into taking our bait. We were surprised when a catfish was lured into the boat with a flower as bait! We battled with great big ticklefish. For those of you that are unfamiliar with "ticklefish," they are huge, merciless fish that will tickle it's captor until they are thrown back. Anything goes!

Happy fishing!

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Storytelling With Illustrations

Illustrating for storytelling

Storytelling is a staple activity in our household. It adapts well and often serves as a springboard for other activities. It's one of our favorite past-times and the benefits are numerous. Storytelling, by itself, is a wonderful way to connect with your children and it's a ton of fun. Imaginations are flexed and stretched by the power of your words. It's truly amazing. Lately, we've been adding onto the experience by illustrating our stories. It does not take the place of storytelling with words alone, but it is a wonderful change of pace with it's own pleasures and benefits.

R delights in telling his own stories and has come to love illustrating them as well. He gathers us around his easel and sets to work. He names his story in advance and sets the stage. He draws a little and then speaks. We hang on his words and his pictures. And his actions. As he draws, he further engrosses himself into his story. He begins to act out emotions. He's not reciting. He is storytelling. It's absolutely wonderful to watch.

Acting out the emotions during storytelling with illustrations
Emoting during storytelling. 

I love seeing his stories evolve along with his artwork. I adore getting a glimpse into his active imagination. He knows he's entertaining us, but I'm not sure he grasps just how much.

And he's learning. While we are being entertained. While we are bonding. He is learning.

Tips For Your Family

  • Use what you have. If you don't have an easel, this activity would be lovely done on paper while you cuddle on the couch. And, as an added bonus, you have a special keepsake afterwards!
  • Take turns. Let your children see you tell a story and illustrate it yourself. Then give them the stage and listen intently. 
  • Let go of perfection. You don't have to be an artist or a particularly remarkable storyteller. Your child will love it regardless and appreciate your effort. And, chances are, you'll get better with practice.
  • Use various voices. An easy way to make your stories more interesting and fun is to use a new voice for each character. I think the best part of that is watching your child mimic you and experiment with voices of their own afterwards.
  • Tell an array of stories. You can share a classic favorite from your childhood or make up a special story just for your child. 
  • Build a Series. Once you make up a character, perhaps based on a special little boy or girl you know, you can build upon that story by describing new adventures. It will be very exciting and give your children something special to look forward to for next time. 

*By the way, Mommy Labs has a fantastic post about the benefits of storytelling and why it is so important for childhood. I think it's beautiful and a must read.

I hope this activity is as magical for you, as it is for my family. Happy connecting!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing or following me on Facebook for future updates. I hope to continue to inspire you to savor the childhood that beckons you. Thank you for reading!

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Dress Up Play: More Ways To Play

Ways to extend dress up play

If you've ever watched children play dress up, you know that they have plenty of ideas on how to play. Which is wonderful! But if their interest starts to dwindle, or you'd like to add a little more variety, here's a few suggestions.

1. Play with them! Put on a mask and jump into their story. Ask questions and take their lead. They'll have a ton of fun with you. You can also switch it up and lead the story for awhile. This will help reinforce taking turns, even in pretend play. 

2. Play a guessing game. Have your child dress up in various ways. Each time they come to you with a completed outfit, take a guess at what or who they are. My son delights in my silly wrong guesses. This is a great game for when you are busy, cooking dinner, etc, but your child is still needing some attention. This works best with a mix and match wardrobe.

3. Give them a subject. Name a person to dress up as. Set a timer (longer for younger children, shorter for older) and have them race to put together a costume that transforms them into their subject. This can be anything from a fireman.. to daddy on a lazy Saturday morning. 

4. Give them a mission. State the objective. Get creative with it. One example would be to hide some costume jewelry and inform them that the robbers hid their loot, but will be coming back to it soon. Their mission is to find the jewels before the robbers come back for them. Set a timer or complete a task of your own. They have to complete their task before time is up. 

5. Take dress up play outside! When I think of dress up play, I typically imagine playing indoors. But this doesn't have to be the case! Those costumes will be fun in new ways by just changing the setting. Take it outdoors and see how their play evolves.

These five ideas are great for breathing new life into dress up play. They are easy suggestions that will bring lots of new fun when it comes to costumes.

Do you have any games to add to this list? Please let me know in the comments.

*If you've missed any of the series, you can find the previous posts here:

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Dress Up Play: Creating A Space

creating a space that inspires dress up play

Now that I've posted about the benefits of dress up play and given you a few ideas for a creative dress up wardrobe, I wanted to share how we organize our space.

I have found that having a designated area for his dress up items is the best way to encourage my son to use them. When he has free access to his costumes he's more apt to put them on and really enjoy them. I also try to make this area a place he'd like to spend time in.

I know that it can be hard to store and organize dress up materials, especially when you are working within a small space. It's easier to scatter and stuff them into various areas to hide them away. But seeing them is important, and can be done in a way that doesn't make you want to close the door and never look back. In our home, R has a dress up corner in his playroom. It's not particularly fancy, but I like the looks of it. Here's how I set up our space.

organize dress up clothes

We placed an accordion style coat rack low on the wall to make it easier for R to access. He can easily get what he wants from the pegs and he can easily put it all away. The rack holds his costumes, hats, and even a couple swords. It frees up valuable floor space and makes everything visible and appealing.

Beneath the hanging rack we have a small bin for his accessories. Because we are not storing all of his items in one big box, this bin is small and out of the way in this tiny space. The dress up area is the first thing you see when entering the playroom. I didn't want a large trunk to make the entryway feel crowded.

making a dress up area for kids

On the adjacent wall we have a full length mirror. R loves seeing how he looks and being silly in front of it. Next to the mirror we have pictures of R in a few of his costumes. He loves looking at pictures and videos of himself and I thought this was a good way to personalize the area.

There are lots of other ways to organize a dress up area, but this is what works for us now that we have less room to work with. I liked that it was simple, yet efficient.

But now I'd love to know, how do you organize and set up your child's dress up area? What do you like about your area? Are there any downfalls to your particular method? Feel free to share in the comments or on my Facebook page.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dress Up Play: The Wardrobe

how to build a wardrobe for dress up play

Yesterday I wrote a little about the benefits of dress up play and why you should encourage it. Today I thought I'd share a few ideas on what to include in your child's creative wardrobe.

R received several costumes for Christmas, but store bought, pre-made costumes aren't needed. You can easily stock your dress up stash with items already found in your home. Or you can go shopping for some deals! There are heavily discounted costumes up for grabs after every Halloween. And thrift stores and yard sales are great places to shop for inexpensive pieces.

Here's a few ideas to get you started.

  • Mom or dad's old clothes. Is there something hiding in the back of your closet that you no longer wear? Bring it out and give it to your kids. They will surely cherish your discard and enjoy pretending to be you!
  • Old towel or pillowcase. One moment they can be a cape, the next they can be a fancy wrap.
  • Hats. Straw hat, baseball cap, winter hat, etc. Find these at thrift stores and dollar stores, or the back of your closet.
  • Mixing bowl. It's an easy and quick helmet of any kind.
  • Costume jewelery. It can dress up a princess or give a robber something to steal.
  • Sunglasses. How about the ones you misplaced and then found again after you had already bought their replacement. Does that ever happen to anyone else?
  • Reading glasses. Minus the lenses! You can find these for cheap at dollar stores.
  • Shoes. Your child will delight in walking around in your oversize shoes.
  • Purses and wallets. I bet you have one you can spare.
  • Credit cards. Give them the thin fake ones that come in those junk mail offers. 
  • Cardboard tubes. A toilet paper tube can turn into a spy glass. A paper towel tube is a fun megaphone. A wrapping paper tube is an amazing sword. Watch and see what your kids can come up with!
  • Bandannas and scarves.Cute accessories or face mask for that pesky robber.
  • Old watch. Perfect spy gear.
  • Old cellphone or calculator. They'll be taking important calls. 
  • Homemade crafts. Let your kids get creative and make their own badges and face masks. What else can they make themselves?

What are some of your kid's favorite dress up items?

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Benefits Of Dress Up Play

the benefits of dress up play for kids

Dress up play is time tested and it's a classic for good reason. Do you remember the days you'd transform yourself into a princess or superhero and get lost in the plots you made up as you pleased? Are you encouraging your children to do the same? Here's a few reasons why you should.

The Benefits Of Dress Up Play

Dress up play stretches your children's creative muscles. When they are playing freely and trying on different personas, they are using their imaginations. The creativity isn't just in picking out what to wear. They are creating different scenarios to play through, often with inventive props. They are looking at things in new ways.

They are telling a story. Often, you will be able to hear their story through the dialogue they come up with. They aren't merely practicing funny voices. They are putting their language skills to good use.

They can work through their feelings and even explore the feelings of others. When they are in their own little world they feel safe enough to explore the different emotions. They can use dress up play to make sense of the world by acting out and working through various problems.

Another wonderful benefit comes to you, as the parent. By watching your child act out their story, you are getting the opportunity to view how your child perceives the world. You are clued in to what has impacted them. The good and the bad.

They are practicing life skills. Changing into costumes is wonderful practice for younger children learning how to dress themselves. Tea parties are social affairs that call for manners and etiquette.

Dressing up is fun! That is evident by the smiles, giggles, and squeels. And also by the roars and stomps. They are playing, and playing is important.

Do your children enjoy dress up play?

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