Ten play activities to occupy your kids


Ten play activities to occupy your kids before the arrival of your container

When you move to a new country it generally takes 8-12 weeks for the container with your furniture to arrive. The children will probably have packed a small selection of favourite toys but the majority will arrive in the container. When I arrived in the US with my 3 children I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to be creative. Here are some ideas you might like to try:

Play Traditional Playground GamesRemember all those games from your childhood?  Mob, Ice-cream, Stuck in the mud, Hopscotch, Skipping Rhymes …..  Resurrect them and teach them to your own children.

Build a Mud Kitchen A mud kitchen is an outdoor kitchen for making mud pies etc. It can be made using an old cupboard or table, a ledge or wall in the garden or a piece of wood on top of bricks or stones. Give the children old spoons, containers, pans etc. and let them create what they will. We put a sign on the fence asking for donations from the neighbours and then added to it with unwanted items once the container arrived.

Recycling Rubbish – boxes and containers can be used for making models, playing shops (using all your foreign coins), and making musical instruments. We made shakers, xylophones from glass bottles filled with different levels of water and jingle sticks with beer bottle tops nailed to sticks.  I also used them for my 2 year old to empty and fill using collections of bottle tops, pistachio nut shells and stones.  Collect newspaper and magazines and mix a flour and water paste to make papier -mache

Build a Den – a den can be built outdoors or indoors using sheets and blankets, cardboard boxes or pieces of wood. Give the children a selection of materials and let their imaginations do the rest.

Playing with natural materials – pistachio nuts shells make great bugs if you decorate them with coloured markers or simply colour the shells in one colour and arrange them to make patterns. Similarly pebbles can be decorated or arranged with leaves, petals, shells and other natural materials to make pictures. Natural materials are also great for building fairy gardens.  We found a lot of things in our garden but collecting things is also a great excuse to explore the local area.

Pen and paper games – These are great for older children. Play noughts and crosses, boxes, hangman and consequences. Younger children will enjoy picture consequences. Each child draws a head, folds the paper over their picture and swaps pictures with the next child. They then draw a body beneath the fold on the other child’s drawing fold and swap.  This continues for legs and feet. Once all 4 parts of the drawing are complete unfold the picture to reveal a funny creature.

Play with ice  – hide objects inside the ice for the children to find and give them spoons and rolling pins to get them out.   Ice is great for cooling kids down in hot climates and in the winter simply leave containers in the garden and let the children investigate the results.

Goop – goop is a mixture of cornflour and water.  Gradually add water to the cornflour . The mixture will look like a liquid and can drip from your hands but if you roll it in your hands it turns to a solid ball. Kids of all ages love this and it is strangely therapeutic for adults too.

Make playdough  - there  are many recipes for playdough; uncooked, prepared in a pan or in a microwave. Personally I find the pan recipe works best but try them all.

The basic recipe is:

1 cup of flour, ½ cup of salt, 1 cup of flour, tsp. cream of tartar, tsp. of oil, food colouring.

Mix in a pan on a low heat until it becomes doughy. Leave to cool and knead.

Build a race track and have a sports day – Our track was marked out with masking tape on our lawn.  We used sticks for javelin and made a hobby horse from a milk carton for show jumping.  We also played team games like soccer, volleyball and tennis.

When the container arrives you have all those boxes for even more fun – why bother to unpack the toys at all?

Rachel McClary
This post was written by
Rachel Mcclary is a British Early Education Consultant who relocated to the US. Rachel’s blog 'Right from the Start' focuses on aspects of early education, life in the US, parenting and related topics.