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7 ways to integrate play into our kids day

Nicole Katzenellenbogen

Nicole Katzenellenbogen

Nicole is an Occupational Therapist who is passionate about working with babies and young children. She brings practical, play-led advice that shares tools parents can use in playtime to foster and nurture their toddler’s development.
Created on Feb 09, 2024 · 6 mins read

It goes without saying that fitting everything into our day can be overwhelming as a parent. We have to remember so many things from schedules, meals, laundry, their social calendars and feeding our children semi-healthy food. While we know that setting aside 10 to 20 minutes a day for focused, uninterrupted and engaged playtime without children is vital, this is sometimes lost or not possible on a daily basis. It's therefore helpful to think about how we play and different ways we can integrate opportunities for play during our daily routines and on the go. 

1. Independence for the win

Allow your child to build independence in their play time. While they often need us to engage in play with them, children also need to learn how to play on their own, explore their unique ideas and follow through a sequence of play opportunities.

Having an area at home where toys are neatly organized and within reach of your child will allow them to find what they are looking for and get going independently. Think clear boxes or plastic sleeves with everything on a low shelf. Encourage completing games and packing away. These skills are important for planning, learning and gaining a sense of responsibility. 

2. Physical Play All The Way

Allow physical play as you go along your day. A child can often engage in gross motor play such as “Floor is Lava” or completing a simple obstacle course while you are busy with dinner, hanging up the washing or feeding the baby in the house. I love having my little ones crawl under the table, climb over cushions or squeeze between small spaces to collect toys, LEGO® DUPLO® bricks or puzzle pieces and bring them back to where we are building and creating. 

The LEGO® DUPLO® Alphabet Truck playset is perfect for this. As toddlers connect the trailer to the toy truck and begin to load and unload the alphabet bricks, they start recognising letters, learning colours, improving their language and honing fine motor skills. The set could then be used to match letter sounds to items in the house. Make it even more fun by counting down quick speed races to match as quickly as possible! “Cup starts with a…?” Giving these gross motor breaks, can help sustain focus on the activity and keeps what could be a sedentary task more exciting. Through this kind of play navigating the world around them they learn about their body in space too. 

3. Drive Time. Thrive Time

Driving in the car together can take up many hours of the day especially when a toddler has to cart around for their siblings’ extra-curricular activities. How about integrating play into these routines and using this time for teaching moments on the go? Pass the time playing with your little one singing songs, naming things in the environment or listening to sounds outside the car. Using manipulatives has been shown to integrate their learning quicker than pencil and paper alone. Children learn best through hands-on experiences. These can be simple items like toy cars, slinkies, letter tiles, or art materials. You could bring along your LEGO® DUPLO® Alphabet Truck set in the car and have little one match letter sounds while looking around and playing “I Spy” or build words with letter bricks.

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Kitchen Chaos to Kitchen Comfort

As parents we spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Encourage your little one to join and have them cook alongside you. This time can create opportunities to learn concepts such as shapes (bread cut into squares, round oranges), size (bigger/smaller) and concepts such as full/empty. It is also a way to bring in fine motor and sensory play through helping prep, mix and cook a meal. This may also encourage children to have healthier food options and to try new foods. Allow them to make up their own experiment with ingredients. 

5. On the Go

We live in a world of so many storage and ‘on the go’ container options. Let’s use this to our advantage and take play “on the go” with us. Fill up a small container with LEGO® DUPLO® bricks and some construction cards and take it along to restaurants or friends houses. Fill smaller containers with stickers, playdough, paper and crayons to entertain for hours. Sometimes all kids need is a quick play to keep themselves engaged without the hassle of trudging along heaps of toys. 

6. Change the space

Create roads for your LEGO® DUPLO®trains, little cars and planes with chalk or painters tape. These can be re-created daily with ease. Allowing your child to change a space from bricks and tiles to fantastical adventures shows them that creativity and ‘thinking outside the box’ will bring so many new opportunities for story telling and creating.

We don’t need to spend money on fancy systems. Instead, bring your toys that your child loves and show them new and inventive ways to expand their learning while playing.

LEGO® DUPLO® allows for playful interactions with our children.This can be a small pocket of time between daily activities, or hours spent copying or building from our imagination. Focused attention and playful back and forth interaction as you build and create, would be the quality time we hope parents can invest in their child. It is about a LEGO® DUPLO® brick and making it into a car, a person, a rocket or any other creature or item in a child’s imagination. This type of play takes the parent out of our regular, linear thinking and allows a parent to enter into their child’s world and playfulness. This is something we forget to do often, however it extends a child’s learning more than we give it credit for.

7. Longevity for the win

Investing in toys that can grow with your child means that they don’t get ‘bored’ of the same toys as they grow and develop. The LEGO® DUPLO® Alphabet Truck playset may begin purely as bricks and wheels to make trains and transport systems, and could then transition to an opportunity to match colours and then eventually to use simple letters to create new words. Think about bringing out some of your toys you may have packed away, and giving them a new lease on life with different expectations on your little one each time. 

Do remember though that you don’t have to stimulate your child all the time. Take cues from them and go with your instincts. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Your child needs quiet times, times to play alone, and active interactive times.

LEGO, LEGO DUPLO and the Minifigure are trademarks of The LEGO Group. ©2024 The LEGO Group.

This is a paid partnership between Kiindred and the LEGO® DUPLO® Brand.

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