1. Let’s hunt for treasure. Have a treasure hunt. Hide one or more treasures (candy or trinkets). Use different colors of chalk to write clues on the sidewalk. Make it very simple or more difficult depending on what your child can handle. You can use pictures for non-readers. If you invite neighbors to your hunt, have different colored treasures and clues – one color for each child so they each have the fun of finding their own treasure and they are not rushing to be the first to find a single treasure. If a child is having difficulty, let him ask someone for help.
2. Let’s play “What If I Could Do….” Ask your child a “What If” question about something she is not yet able to do. For example, “What if you could go to school every day like big sister? Or, “What if, you could fix your own snacks when you were hungry?” Listen to your child’s answers and enjoy her imagination. You can also get clues about what preparation she needs in order to do what you have asked about.
3. Let’s do make-believe art. Do an art project with your child that is about adding something to his dress-up stuff. It could be making hats to go with clothes he has. It could be making “extras” like magic wands, tools, etc. It could be whole costumes made out of craft paper or newspaper. It could be props like ovens, hideouts, or walls made from cardboard boxes or blocks. Be sure to play together to try them out once they are made.
4. Let’s make our own special game. Help your child make up a new game. It can be a physical game, like a ball game or running/jumping game. Or, it can be a card or board game. If starting from scratch to come up with a new idea for a game is too difficult, try making changes in a game your child already knows. How else could Chutes and Ladders be played? Or baseball? Let him make up whatever rules he wants as long as they are not unsafe or hurtful to other players. Be sure to play the game after it is created. Discuss how well your child liked the game and whether it could be even better with some additional changes in it.
5. Let’s all scream for ice cream. Make homemade ice cream. It’s National Ice Cream Day in the United States. You can find recipes in most cookbooks, at the library, or on the Internet. If you want an adventure, try making ice cream the old fashioned way in a tin can. Or, use an ice cream maker, if you have one or can borrow one. Some recipes don’t require any special equipment – they just go directly in your freezer. Little known fact: it has been reported that there are over 1000 different ice cream flavors.
6. Let’s play puppets. Have a puppet show. For puppets you can use stuffed animals, dolls, hand puppets, marionettes, and even old socks that you have drawn faces on. The show can be inside or outside. A stage can be a chair, table, rock, box, etc. Make up the story and name the show. Perform it for the family or neighbors. Be as fancy as you like – with tickets, refreshments, etc.
7. Let’s tell jokes. Ask your child to tell a joke as his “ticket” to each meal and for each ride in the car. For young children, ask them to make a silly face or a silly sound. For older children, you can find knock-knock jokes, riddles, and plays on words at the library or on the Internet. Read some jokes to your child and let him repeat them through the day or print them for your child and let him read them through the day.
Q: Knock, knock—-Who’s There?—-Who—-Who Who? A: Is there an owl in there?
Q: What gets wetter the more it dries? A: A towel.
Q: Why can’t your nose be 12 inches long? A: Because then it would be a foot!
Q: What has one head, one foot and four legs? A: A Bed
Q: How many letters are in The Alphabet? A: There are 11 letters in The Alphabet
8. Let’s build a special place. Build a tent or fort. It can be in or out of the house. You can use a real tent or blankets, tablecloths, and furniture. Let your child decide what the tent or fort is all about – a secret “mom and me” club, hiding out from monsters, a lab for making a power potion, etc. Once the fort is done, play pretend together. Let your child know when you start playing pretend and announce when you are done pretending.
9. Let’s appreciate art. Plan an art appreciation activity with your child. Go to a museum, dance performance, concert, or get some children’s library books about some form of art. Ask the librarian to help you locate books that are pictures of finished art or of performances and that are right for the age of your child.