Playdates provide your little ones opportunities to build social skills and use their imaginations. A playdate can also be a great time for you to connect with other adults and get some social time for yourself.
Playdates at a park, for example, are always a great way to let kids connect and have fun. But outside is not always an option, and coming up with creative ways to keep your kids entertained indoors can be a challenge.
What are some good activities for an indoor playdate?
Here are five indoor playdate ideas that let you set up engaging scenarios of unstructured play. You can let your kids be kids. And, while staying within earshot, you can get a much-needed break to socialize with your parent friends.
Helpful tip: For each suggestion, gather the items beforehand and put them in one place such as a large box, bin or laundry basket. Providing everything in advance streamlines the process and makes clean up easier.
A classroom of our own
Set the scene: Set up one area as a little classroom. Provide engaging learning tools such as books, blocks, art supplies and fun puzzles. You can also give the kids pads of paper, pencils and stickers so they can create their own worksheets. Add a few dolls and stuffed animals as other classroom friends.
Kids can take on the role of teacher or student. They can review letters and numbers, gather around for story time, discover days of the week with a calendar and even practice their scissor skills during arts and crafts time.
Parent prompts: What will you be learning about today? Who are some of the other "kids" in your class? I'd love to see one of your art projects.
Our sweet bakery
Set the scene: Gather pretend play food, cookie sheets, baking pans, cookie cutters and baking toys. Add some paper, crayons and stickers so kids can create a menu of items. They can highlight the day's sweet specialties and decorate small cardboard boxes as take-out containers. Kids can take turns in different roles—dressing up as the baker, and buying goodies as the customer. Check in on their progress by visiting their store and trying some of their "yummy" treats.
Parent prompts: What's the name of your bakery? Does it have a theme? What's your most popular item? Is there a sign out front?
The zookeeper zone
Set the scene: Stuffed animals, dolls, animal puzzle pieces and animal figures can be the zoo residents. All kinds of wooden blocks can be used to create animal enclosures of different sizes and shapes. Who could be making all those sounds? The animals must be hungry! A zookeeper has important jobs to do. Time to feed the animals, fix things around the zoo and take some of the animals out for a stroll.
Parent prompts: What's your favorite animal? How big is your zoo? Can you put any of the animals in the same area? What do you feed the animals?
Put on a show
Set the scene: Provide a variety of items that kids can use as props in their stage show. Sheets, towels and blankets make great impromptu costumes. Homemade tiaras or hats can be the crowning touch in a fashion show. Kids can add music to their performance as they shine in the spotlight while dancing or walking the red carpet. Set up a few chairs draped with a sheet or blanket to designate the "back stage" area as budding stars get ready with makeup and hair. When they're ready, they can offer you a ticket to the show with a front row seat. (Be sure to give a standing ovation for a job well done!)
Parent prompts: What's the name of your show? Can you describe your fashion statement for the audience? May I have your autograph?
Go on a train trip
Set the scene: Kids can take a pretend train trip and visit different people and places throughout their journey. You can create no-mess train tracks by placing blue painter's tape or masking tape along the floor. They can build towns they'll pass using blocks. Then it's "all aboard" as the conductor stamps the tickets and rolls the train cars along the tracks. You never know which friends (stuffed animals or dolls) may be waiting at the next station.
Parent prompts: Where is the train taking you? Who will you visit? How long is your train? Can you work together to build the tallest tower you'll see along the way?