Evening Activities That Keep Kids Busy Playing

8 Evening Activities that keep kids busy playing while we do something else

We’re tired.
They’re tired.

We’re trying to get a lot of things done.
They seem to need us at the same time.


The afternoon to evening transition is typically one of the most stressful times in most of our homes.

With a little bit of preparation you can add these activities into your evening schedule. Some supervised and some totally hands- free.
Let’s discover some ways we can buck this trend and make for calmer, happier little ones and big ones.

[Read more…]

Friday Finds {10.08.2012}

Car race track

The hardest time is the gap between saying, “Go find something to do!” and them finding something to do. I don’t know about you but I’m so tempted to talk more and direct them.

We try and have unstructured downtime everyday. Not just  now, some random filling in time but planned to give a decent length of time to allow for creating ( and putting away or to the side).

This fine creation happened this week. I love the creativity of using the Fiddlestixand he played for a long while refining and building his racetrack.

I too had to find something to do and it worked. I said nothing.



Friday Finds is the place to unwind, grab yourself a comfy chair and reflect on your past week then plan for the upcoming one. With a little something to make you think, for them to do and for us to listen or watch……. We are putting ideas into action. Challenging ourselves to do a little differently. Be inspired.

Link up your posts  that fit one of these categories.

Enjoy your weekend!

Goodness for the mind: Raising Successful Children :: NYTimes.com

Activities for the body: Over and Out!: 2 Great Obstacle Courses :: Education.com

Goodness for the eyes and ears: Why Duct Tape Parenting? What’s in a Name :: Parenting on Track

This week on Raising Playful Tots podcast::  Back to school for 5 year olds and under

If you enjoyed this article, get the Play Activities Newsletter. ( It’s free!)

31 Days to a More Playful Tot – An Introduction

31 Days to  A More Playful Tot

31 Days to A More Playful Tot













31 Days To A More Playful Tot-An Introduction

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day One} Take stock and just play

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Two} Everyday Interactions

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Three} Set the scene with your voice

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Four} Exploring the world

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Five} Less is more

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Six} Choosing a good learning environment

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Seven} Sounds, words and actions

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Eight} Real living

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Nine} Nurturing Curiosity

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Ten} The Power of Questions

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Eleven} Know Your Mind

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Twelve} Cheerleader and Coach

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Thirteen} Accept and reject

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Fourteen} Gratitude, Actions and Words

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Fifteen} Let’s get social

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Sixteen} Time for a visit

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Seventeen} Critical thinking

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Eighteen} Be Inspired!

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Nineteen} Choosing (appropriate) activities

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Twenty} More Process not product

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Twenty one} Knowing where they are

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Twenty two} 7 words that help shorten an outburst

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Twenty Three} Problem solving

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Twenty four} Goodness for your ears

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Twenty Five} Asking the children

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Twenty five} Quick 5 minute activities

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Twenty seven} Books to read to discover play

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Twenty Eight} Books to read to discover play 2

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Twenty Nine} Saying yes

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Thirty} Keep unstructured play flexible

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Thirty One} Creating a playspace

In my series, 31 Days to a more Playful Tot, we will explore many things, from nurturing curiosity to living in the real world. My idea is to cover a  wide variety of topics — as many as I can think of that affect my own children’s playfulness and impact my motivation for play as a parent.

I’m writing from the heart. Sometimes the posts will be longer and some bitesized. You won’t have a beautiful clean house at the end of this 31 day series, an organized home or perfectly behaved children who’ll love to play every second of the day.

What you’ll get though I hope will be helpful reminders, lots of nod your head moments , more focus and ideas . Plus a feeling that we all are on the same journey together to raising a more playful tot with life throwing us lots of detours along the way.

My reasons for writing these posts

  • the interaction of the community. We’re not alone. Someone’s been there before us and has an alternative to our struggles. I love hearing the different ways we – raise playful tots.
  • I’ve wanted to write this series for a while and have lots of ideas and condensing them down has been really hard.
  • Discipline of writing for this length of time (Ek!)
  • documenting what I’ve learnt with my three little boys and the meandering journey we are on.

What I expect from you:

  •  I hope you join in; post your ideas; comment.
  • I hope you read and not skim + share.
  • I hope you enjoy.
  • Most of all I hope you take these action steps and make them part of your play life from this moment on.

You won’t want to miss a post — follow me on Facebook ::

So glad you will be joining me in this 31 day journey!
Please share the love — grab my button!


If you enjoyed this post make sure you are subscribe to my mailing list with encouragement and ideas for Simple Parenting.



Family night and dinnertime play activities- April

What’s family dinner like in your home? Probably pretty busy. Anytime for play activities?

Family meal times can be a really chaotic time of day with the bewitching hour close by/ clubs and activities/ and the general hustle and bustle of preparing a meal with children underfoot. By the time we make it to the table we’re all a little frazzled. Once we start eating we try a conversation and get mixed results.


Dinner time is a great time to connect and feel that family bond. We’ve had a lot of success with Dinner games and now were extending the fun.

Extending the fun

During the meal we try the conversation starters to get to know our children. Then move onto family night activities.

At the end of each month I’ll be sharing a download full of activities to try over the month for dinner conversation and together family activities.

Photo credit

Download April here


Since we’re at dinner I thought I would continue the theme………………….

Appetizer: Conversation starters during dinner

4-6 questions to promote conversation with your under 5s plus space to add your own.

First course: Recommended family game or activity

Games we recommend that encourage team work, participation, conversation and appeals to various ages.

Second course: Book recommendation

These books work really well read aloud or working together as a family.

Salad course: Podcast recommendation

Podcasts for kids or parents to enjoy

Dessert: Music

Start their musical appreciation with some carefully thought out musical journeys.

Cheese course: find some excellent play activities to do for the month.


Combine them in one night and have a playful family’dinnight’ or try different parts over the month.

Photo credit

Happy family ‘dinnight’!

Download April here

10 Tips for a Fun Family Evening That Won’t Break the Bank

This is a guest post by Sally . If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

10 Tips for a Fun Family Evening That Won’t Break the Bank

In a tough economy, one of the smartest choices a family can make is to stay in and have fun at home. Here is a list of my favorite money saving ideas for an evening with the family that won’t break the bank.

1. Make Hot Fudge Sundaes

Rather than spending a fortune going out to a restaurant, why not make dinner at home and then enjoy some homemade hot fudge sundaes? All it takes is some ice cream and a few toppings, and your kids will think they have died and gone to heaven. Special Note: This can also serve as a great reward children can earn for good grades or behavior.

2. Make Up Funny Stories

Kids really seem to love it when parents join in on this one. One person simply starts a story, and the next one adds a line, and so on, and so on, until everyone is laughing too hard to even finish the story. This can make for one hilarious evening.

3. Sock Puppets

Sock puppet performances are always a hit, no matter what. All you need are a few old socks(or new ones if you wish) and some random craft supplies. Have each member of the family create their own character and then act out a story involving them all. This is a fun activity for everyone in the family, especially when everyone really gets into it.

4. Draw Family Portraits

Drawing family portraits together can be a fun way to get the artistic juices flowing in the home. Kids will love this time to be creative, and it is always interesting to see how each person perceives the family as a whole. Besides, whose refrigerator couldn’t use a few more masterpieces?

5. Sing Karaoke

Singing karaoke is something that any family can enjoy. All you need is a radio and a makeshift microphone.(I find a wooden spoon or a hair brush works great for this!) And the best part is, it doesn’t matter how great a person is at singing, because this simply makes for a more memorable evening. Usually, the worse one is at singing . . . the better!

6. Act Out Family Stories

Retelling some of your favorite family stories is always hilarious, but acting them out is even better. Kids enjoy the ability to relive their favorite stories, and everyone gets a chance to work together while acting out the scenes. A nice twist is to allow the person telling the story to act as the “director”. This can make for some pretty hilarious moments, and it always makes for one incredible evening.

7. Dress Up in Halloween Costumes

Dressing up in Halloween costumes is a hilarious activity to do as a family, no matter what time of the year it is. It is so much fun to have a contest as well, to see who can come up with the best costume. As a spin-off into more family fun, the person that wins the costume contest then gets to pick the next game for the family to enjoy together. Kids love playing this game, and it can get quite competitive.

8. Paint a Room Together

I know it seems a bit like it may violate some sort of child labor laws, but it can be an amazing experience to paint a room together as a family. If you have a room where you can spare a wall, one of the best things to do is allow your kids to paint whatever they want on a wall. This can be a fun way to get a job done and also make kids feel like they are truly contributing to the family as a whole. Kids get to leave their mark on the family home, a task gets completed, and everyone enjoys an evening of laughter and bonding.

9. Have a Tea Party

Although it’s primarily a great game choice for families with young girls, families with boys shouldn’t count out the idea of a tea party. It doesn’t have to be all dresses and dolls, and it provides a great way for kids of all ages to learn proper manners. Girls go nuts over this, and if there are snacks involved, your boys will love it too!

10. Organize Family Photos or Scrapbook


If your family has a lot of random unorganized photos laying around, consider working together as a family to get them arranged in a photo album. Another option would be to create a scrapbook that highlights family events or specific memories. Either option will provide everyone with an enjoyable evening of reminiscing about the memories captured in the photographs.

These are ten things that any family can do at home and that don’t cost a lot of money. My family has enjoyed these activities for years, and hopefully, now your family can enjoy them too.

Byline: Sally is an avid guest blogger who enjoys informing and educating parents about cost effective ways to spend their family leisure time. When she’s not busy writing, she enjoys bonding with her husband and prepping her home for their soon to be newborn child.

Family night and dinnertime play activities- March

What’s family dinner like in your home? Probably pretty busy. Anytime for play activities?

Family meal times can be a really chaotic time of day with the bewitching hour close by/ clubs and activities/ and the general hustle and bustle of preparing a meal with children underfoot. By the time we make it to the table we’re all a little frazzled. Once we start eating we try a conversation and get mixed results.

[Read more…]

Dusting off your new ipod or smartphone

It’s been almost a month now since you got your shiny new smartphone/ipad/ipod. You’ve got to grips with some features but you know it can do so much more.

You’ll be wanting to listen to shows that help you as a parent or maybe you need some light relief.

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How to find shows?


  • Download iTunes it’s a free piece of software that holds a vast directory of podcasts, as well as music, movies and radio.
  • Once you have downloaded iTunes visit the podcast section in the iTunes store. There’s a search bar in the top right corner.
  • Look at your favourite radio shows most have a podcast version so you never miss them again.


  • Blackberry has a podcast directory where you can find shows.
  • Stitcher is a free application you install on your smartphone. You can listen to content right from your phone without needing to be syncing your computer and ipod.

Podcasts to try

The (Over)thinking Mom

This is a recent find for me and I’m loving digging into the archives as Meredith has some great topics.Meredith talks about interesting and topical subjects around parenting. She loves researching and investigating- which is good for us as she shares it all in this podcast. I’ve really enjoyed her range of episodes and just like “MPR”  ( NPR), I found myself listening to topics I didn’t think I would be interested in and totally got hooked. Cost : Free

Tweet with The (Over)thinking Mom on Twitter | Like The (Over)thinking Mom on Facebook

BAM- Body, Mind and Child

BAM is a radio network of many channels that caters to parents, educators and leaders in Education. The show I listen to the format is the host, Rae Pica putting questions to two or more guests with opposing opinions. It often makes for a lively discussion.   Deborah of Teachpreschool.org was a recent guest. These shows are 10- 15 minutes long and are packed with lots of information and background on children. It’s the one that plays in the right sidebar of this site. Cost: Free

Like BAM- Body, Mind and Child on Facebook

Apple Juice Radio

This a fun husband and wife podcasting duo talking about the parents guide to children’s books and films. This show is based in the UK. I really enjoy the reviews as they are not sugar coated and always with a positive spin neither do the couple  always agree so the discussion is spirited and you can totally get the point the view. There’s a lot of laughter and you really feel like you’re listening into a conversation in their 15-25 minute show. They are show notes that give more information about the book and the film. Cost: Free

Tweet with Apple Juice Radio on Twitter | Like Apple Juice Radio on Facebook

Classics for Kids podcast

All the previous podcasts were for parents to listen for themselves or to learn for the children. This podcast is one that was recommended to me by a homeschooling mom who uses the podcast as part of her curriculum. It’s a short podcast that illustrates a classic composer and is full of music.  At 6 minutes it’s perfect “setting the table” listening in our house to keep everything moving along. Each composer lasts 3-5 podcasts but with the bite sized child friendly language and chunks it is totally accessible as an easy listen. Cost: Free.

Parents’ Perspective

One of the first podcasts I subscribed to in the mid Naughties and still a favourite today. This is a co-hosted show where the topics are on parenting and offer a wie range of material, not just focused on the Early years. The host starts with a senario and ends with the interview  of a special guest expert that attempts to answer the question. With each show approximately 27 mintues long the time goes really quickly as you listen to stories and information. Cost: Free

Like Parents’ Perspective on Facebook

The Because Show

All the previous shows were information about development or parenting ideas whereas these three women from Los Angeles talk about a subject each week. It’s not a parenting show and it is a parenting show as all three are parents. They have occasional guest but usually we have girlfriends answering questions, sharing stories and commenting on life. It’s a refreshing  to listen  to parents who can talk about and experience other things other than children and perfect listening during the day. They do have an explicit tag to some of their material which is useful when you have little ears who would love nothing better than to repeat what they hear. You can check each show and they usually say beforehand in the intro. They really are like a magazine with the diversity of subjects and views. They have long and short shows. Cost: Free

Tweet with TheBecauseShow | Like TheBecauseShow

Raising Playful Tots

My show.

Raising Playful Tots (RPT) is a weekly podcast and Internet Radio show for mums who want to make the most of Early Childhood playtime. We offer tips, suggestions, guest interviews and conversation about how to keep appropriate play central in the under 5s in our care.  Time: between 20 and 30 minutes. Cost: Free

Tweet |Facebook

Carnival of Parenting Podcasts

Why Podcasts?

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What do you do once the children go to bed of an evening? Slump in front of the TV, grab a book, watch a movie, study for school, go to club, Facebook or Tweet? We all have our things we do. There’s a podcast out there for you too.

::Ones for parents to learn and grow

::Once for parents to be transported

::Ones for parents to laugh and groan.

So many different types.

As a parent who is interested in playing with their child there’s got to be time for the parents to play. Fun for your ears.

What’s a recent podcast you’ve subscribed to?

11 play New year resolutions you can keep

How are you getting on with your New Year resolutions?Try these 11 resolutions to start you thinking about play in 2011.

1. Stop and think do they really need that new toy or gadget? Marketing and peer pressure aside how will it really benefit my child? Sometimes they will and sometimes it won’t.

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2. Stop and play with the kids each day. Schedule it, mark it on the calendar do whatever it takes. One on one with each child with them directing the show. Start with moments and build up your stamina. It’ll be worth it.

3. Find like minded friends and grow together.

4. Read about play and share with your friends

5. Allow the kids freedom to imagine, create and be totally bored. Turn off screens and substitute with things your family will love, grow to love or will at least experience together. Trial and error is a great teacher.

6. Ask the children what is their favourite things to do with the family and do it more often

7. Find a rhythm for your family of clubs, activities, freetime, downtime that allows everyone to benefit from the richness that each brings.

8. Let them have experiences that leave them in awe, surprised, dirty, singing, shocked and determined. Childhood is richer if there are many elements to it that are unpredictable.

9.Share and swap games, toys and ideas with friends and neighbours. You’ll find out new places to visit and things to do when you actively talk about play.

10. Have playdates that promote physical exercise: out in the garden- whatever the weather, change of clothes would not be too difficult; time in a local park; going for a walk/hike riding bikes. Resist activities that solely mean you staying stationary for the entire playdate

11. Comment or give back to your playmates who inspire you to keep on playing

What play resolutions are you planning for 2011?

Toddler play activities with conkers

We went looking for conkers.

[Read more…]

Fun with magnets

This is a guest post by Nanny Dee. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

Most children are fascinated by magnets and their seemingly magical abilities to attract other objects. Little M (26 months) had a great time playing with this basic magnet kit I assembled for him:

Basic Magnet Kit for Toddlers and Young Preschoolers

These objects are large enough and smooth enough to be safe for small children. There are just enough items to be fun without being overwhelming.

Large wand magnet (can be found at Sewing/Craft stores in the notions department)

Assorted LARGE metal objects (to avoid choking dangers):

  • cover from a holiday tin
  • empty almond tins

(Blue Diamond tins have smooth edges with the added bonus of using them as stacking /building toys at another time)

  • caps from glass bottles

(mine are from Knudsen Very Veggie Juice, but many pasta sauces and glass juice bottles have metal caps; also perfect are the metal ends from frozen juice concentrate container)

Young children like to explore new objects without a specific goal in mind, so let them do their own thing while you are close by. If they don’t seem interested, demonstrate how the wand picks up or sticks to one of the metal objects. Introduce new words like magnet, metal, and attract.

As with all activities, if children are not interested, it may be too soon. Children grow and develop rapidly, so try again next month!

Magnet Kit for Older Preschoolers and School-age Children

For older children who are no longer in danger of putting small objects in their mouths, nose, or even ears (it’s been done!) add smaller magnets and assorted household objects to those in the basic kit:

Small craft magnet discs (under $2 for stack of 8 at Wal-mart or craft stores)

Additional Metal objects:

  • paper clips
  • hair barrettes
  • binder clips

It is fun to let older children experiment with objects that look like they might be attractive to a magnet, but are not. For preschoolers this is an important sorting and classifying exercise.

Help young grade school scientists make predictions about which items will be attractive to the magnet and which will not. Record the results on a handmade chart divided into two columns: attracts and does not attract.

This activity may lead you to the library or internet to find out more about magnets and why some materials attract a magnet and some don’t. Introduce words and concepts like repel, south and north poles, opposites attract, magnetic energy, and magnetic field.

Non-attractive metal objects:

  • keys
  • coins
  • aluminum foil

Non-attractive objects composed of other materials:

  • rubber bands
  • plastic pens
  • wooden sticks
  • wooden spools
  • plastic dice

Other activities to try with your magnets:

  • House hunt for magnetic objects – (keeping away from computers and televisions, which may be damaged by magnet contact), hunt for items that are attractive to your magnet – metal legs of a chair, file cabinet, treadmill handles, and so on.
  • Using a shoebox lid or plastic container cover, put a paper clip or other magnetic item on top and hold the magnet underneath to make your top item move around and back and forth. This demonstrates how magnetic energy flows through other objects depending on the strength of the magnet and thickness of the item between them.

Nanny Dee blogs about early childhood topics and activities at New England Nanny. In addition to being Little M’s nanny, she’s also a 47-year-old college student with one semester to go before completing her BA in Early Childhood Education. By next year she hopes to be an elementary school teacher.

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