Make solitary play time fun

March 15, 2010

by Jenni Sebora

As parents, it is crucial that we spend quality and quantity time with our children. But running a household is no easy task, and there are things we have to get done to keep the “ship” afloat.

It is important that our children know how to play alone with supervision, of course, to give us some free minutes to get those necessary tasks done.

It is easy to turn on the television or some other electronic device that can entertain our children, but there are certainly other easy things that we can do to set up successful play alone time. Remember that the activities should be developmentally appropriate.

It is important to give our children undivided attention, including eye contact and some hugs, too. Our kids will be able to play alone a little easier if we have given them some time with us.

Give them some direction, and maybe even some choices; “look at some books or draw a picture for your grandpa.” And get them started on the process or activity.

Keep a basket of toys nearby and interchange those toys regularly so they seem fresh and new.

Have books accessible, in a basket or on a shelf that they can get to easily. Books on tape or compact disc are a hit, too.

A tub or box of old clothes, hats, and shoes can provide much entertainment for our children. My kids used to put on fashion shows with my husband and my old clothes, shoes, hats, scarves, ties and jewelry. We provided them with these fashion accessories, of course. Free reign in the closet is probably not the way to go.

Clay and Playdough can enthrall our children’s minds, too. How about a craft bin or container that includes such items as paper, crayons, glue stick, small pom poms, pipe cleaners, stickers, etc? Pull out the bin and let their Picasso minds and hands go to work.

Put some cold water in a small plastic tub or container and supply some plastic utensils, such as a strainer and plastic spoons, and let them play. Put some rice instead of water in the tub and supply with items such as spoons and measuring cups. I have done this with my children throughout the years, on the kitchen floor with a towel under the container.

Plastic or paper cups can be a supply of fun building entertainment. Your child can build towers, and these towers are not quite as hard on the ears when it is time for demolition.

Throw a blanket over a card table and that, alone, is an invitation for fun. My daughter enjoys this tent time with a flashlight and some books.

As much as family fun time is important, there are times when our children need to entertain themselves, with supervision and direction, and of course, the latitude and parameters of this time depends on their age.

A funny musical adaptation of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” will be playing at the Old Log Theater in Excelsior, May 4 - 29 and June 22 – Aug. 7. Individual ticket prices are $15, and group discount tickets are $8 for 10 or more, with one free ticket for group leader for every ten tickets purchased. These are about the cheapest theatrical tickets you can purchase, and the Old Log Theater does a nice job. You can go online or call the theater for tickets (952-474-5951).