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You want a present, peaceful and playful family life? I'm here to help you make that a reality.

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10 Things to Do with Kids at Home (INDEPENDENT PLAY EDITION)

The list of things to do with kids at home is endless, but which ones will spark independent play? I know that’s part of the reason you’re here, because independent play is great for kids and great for us too!

But did you know that kids play more deeply and for longer with toys that they themselves have created?

Watch: Fun Things to Do with Kids at Home (INDEPENDENT PLAY EDITION)

Here are the easiest, most budget-friendly, fun things to do with kids at home that will spark independent play. 


Do Kids Play with DIY Toys More?

Kids play more deeply and for longer with toys that they themselves have created. Oh, I know that’s a generalization. It’s not true for every kid at every opportunity, but it’s often the case and there’s a lot of psychological research that actually backs this up.

Research Says…

Dan Arieli did some research with adults who had built Ikea furniture, and those adults actually valued the furniture that they built higher. They put a higher dollar assignment to it than the exact same furniture that someone else had built.

Why? Because,

When we put effort into something we deem it as valuable.

It becomes more valuable to us. I have found, (my anecdotal research shows) that the same is true for children in play.

When children tinker with, create, do something that’s their own, that becomes their own toy. They actually play with it for longer and are more invested in it.

DIY Kids Activities To Do At Home

So I think we can capitalize on that fact and help our children play independently with some DIY activities to do at home.  And so, how do you make your own toy? 

10 Things to Do With Kids at Home to Ignite Independent Play

Things to do with kids at home don’t have to be fancy. Nonono.. we don’t have the time for that right now. This isn’t a craft competition. This isn’t Pinterest. It doesn’t have to be beautiful. It just has to be something your child has made, or has contributed to. Like…

  1. Polymer Clay Characterssoft like playdough, and you can shape them like characters that you can look up on the internet. Imagine a princess, monster, or animal! Once you bake them in the oven, they are hard and long-lasting! 
  2. Stinky Sock Puppets – grab your old stinky (okay, washed) socks, and stick/glue/sew on some eyes and a mouth. That’s it, you’re done. Anything that has a face becomes a doll, right?
  3. Painted Peg Family – buy cheap wooden peg people and paint them to be the members of your family!
  4. Plastic Spoon People – grab sharpies and have your children draw their own faces, glue on wool hair (or whatever you have) and ta-da! Toys.
  5. Paper Plate Dolls – use paper plates to create faces or cut out dolls to design and decorate.
  6. Cardboard Box Cutouts – draw and cut a simple body shape, and have your child create a toy of someone they admire.
  7. Popsicle Stick People – give your kids a popsicle and when they’re done, glue their little drawn-on-paper characters on the ends. 
  8. Cardboard Tube Car Ramps – maybe they make their own ramps, or tunnels and roads for their cars out of paper towel or gift paper rolls.
  9. Box Bricks – perhaps they glue cardboard together to make their own bricks for a house. 
  10. Crazy Craft – any time you are going to dispose of a lid, a paper tube, a bread tag, or any other “potential piece of a toy”, throw it into a bin nearby and save them so kids can create robots, cars or whatever else they come up with!

Look around your house and see what you can come up with for them to create according to the materials that you have on hand. But then give them total creative control!

Spark Play and Ignite Wonder

It’s magical for children to see that they can create a toy. That it isn’t just something handed to them from someone else’s imagination, but it’s from their own doing.

I think you will find some fascinating things come out of this.

Your Challenge:

So, your challenge today is to allow your children to somehow make their own toys and see how this influences their independent play. Don’t forget to snap a pic and share it with the #PlayPandemic hashtag on Instagram or Facebook! Please share this post with everyone you know who’s home with kids, because it could really help them realize that there are many ways of igniting independent play.

So, let’s reclaim that independent play. Let’s let our children create their own things to play with out of whatever we’ve got on hand.

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