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When it comes to arranging our weekly playdates my friends and I tend to take it in turns to host, as besides dividing the responsibility it’s also a great opportunity for our toddlers to try out some new toys and be sociable in different environments. On our playdates we like to vary up the activities so that there’s something new and fun for our stir-crazy toddlers to try out each time. It’s always interesting observing them as they try the ideas we’ve planned, whether it’s our DIY animal rescue game or building a fort to build out of pillows!
It was after watching the Science of Play videos from Aptamil Growing Up milks that I’ve been able to spot certain toddler behaviours that our children are now displaying, from shar- ing attention to parallel play. These actions, whether it’s through Finlay allowing his friend Ewan to help him build a track for his trains, or watching them all play side by side immersed in their different activities, are so special to witness. Especially now that we realise what milestones they are.
Below are a few of our favourite tried and tested playdate activities and the different skills they’ve encouraged our toddlers to embrace.
Classic Toys i.e Wooden Trains
I doubt anything’s been played with in our house as much as our box of wooden tracks and trains! It provides endless hours of entertainment and is always a guaranteed hit on a play- date. However, as the prized toy it can be a tricky one when it comes to sharing. Yet this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it encourages our toddlers to communicate with each other, which is a key part of the Science of Play. For example, my son Finlay is a perfectionist when it comes to building his track and can often get frustrated when one of his friends wants to join in. But after some negotiating and a watchful eye, active toys like this have encouraged him to learn to share. It’s not always smooth sailing, but he’s getting better and better at it with each visit.
Books corner with bean bag (create a cosy reading nook)
As much fun as play dates are, they can occasionally be overwhelming. Having a quiet corner or a cosy reading nook is an easy way to create some balance and allow any tired tots to have some quiet time. If you’re not hosting it’s also a nice opportunity to read some new story books. The act of sharing attention in this way (either one on one with your child or reading to the group), is an act of bonding and the start of creating memories all together! Make the nook extra inviting by grabbing a blanket and cuddling up under it on a comfy chair or bean bag!
Garden Fun (fun outdoor toys such as sandpits, water table etc.)
Getting out and about in the garden is by far our favourite playdate activity. There’s nothing better than fresh air, plus everything feels that little bit easier when your toddlers have the space to run free and wild! Depending on the time of year we vary up our garden toys, but our usual favourites are tents, the sandpit (complete with bucket and spades), the water table and gardening toys. Finlay also likes his DIY watering can, which I made quickly out of an old milk bottle with some little holes pierced in the lid. It’s the little things!
DIY Game Zoo Animal Rescue (made using a washing up basket and string)
One of our favourite easy games is DIY animal rescue, however you could use any toys such as blocks or cars. Simply grab an old laundry basket and loop some string through the gaps in order to create the ‘jail’. Toddlers love navigating their hands through the maze and fishing out their toys from the bottom!
We’d love to hear what your favourite playdate activities are! To learn more about your toddler’s amazing milestones check out this article over at The Huffington Post and the video below all about toddlers discovering friends.