Ingredients:  All the toys at their disposal; a climbing rope (or several dressing gown cords tied together)

The Big Sell: Me to the kids: “I’m bored, what can we play?”

Strategy:

My two boys never fail to amaze me, they came up with two fabulous games this weekend which I had to share.

3 year olds game: Let’s Play “Staircase Mountaineering”

Spotting his Dad’s length of climbing rope which I had been using for an Antarctic Explorers workshop, he asked me to tie it securely to the top rung of the banisters, and we proceeded to spend the next half an hour playing mountaineering down the stairs. This involved finding Arctic cuddly toys (a seal and penguin), making a basket of explorer food and flask of hot chocolate, practicing creating echoes “Can you hear me, can you hear me, can you hear me…” whilst travelling up and down the stairs holding on to the rope. I hasten to add our many adventures were heavily supervised (never leave kids and rope alone obviously!) but provided some excellent rainy day exercise and lots of educational conversations about what explorers used to eat (pemmikin and chocolate), how cold the Polar regions are, Arctic food chains, etc… all whilst sitting in the clouds perched on the top stair.

7 year olds game: Let’s play “Our Home Museum & Art Gallery”

Totally invented and delivered by my eldest, I was merely required as a Museum Visitor. I had to patiently wait for the Tour to start in the Waiting Room (dining room) before I was led around the various sections of the Museum (rooms of our house) to see the Dinosaur period (lots of plastic dinosaurs arranged on a shelf), Soldier section (Toy Story small soldiers arranged in battle pose), art gallery (his own art displayed on the walls), Victorian childhood section (rather profusely populated play room covered in lots of plastic, but at least he did try and steer me towards the wooden toys!) and finally taken to the Shop. Here he came into his own as he tried to persuade me a small box of gifts was a steal at only £7.50 (I declined). Again, wonderful opportunities for some two way educational conversations here about history (Me: “And when was the Jurassic period?” Him: “Oh well, at least a thousand years ago!”), and a chance for me to see how much school and our museum trips have inspired him.

The verdict: Sometimes kids come up with the best stuff without us interfering at all. I learn something new every day from them!

Catchphrase: My little salesman: “Well, the museum entry was free, so I really think you ought to spend some money in the shop!”

Left wanting more?

  • One thing I do to help this kind of play along, is to not allow their toys to dissolve into a horrible hybrid mess, but to organise them according to theme (sea, dinosaurs, vehicles, space etc..) in lots of pretty bags and boxes. I’ve always suspected, if you can manage to tidy and present them nicely as often as possible, the children see their toys as valuable rather than junk!
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