5 Ideas for Summer Play Time for Kids

Summer fun
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  • 01 of 06

    Make Time for Kids' Play Time This Summer

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    Kids and play might seem an obvious fit, but really nowadays unstructured play time  for kids can be scarce. The family schedule can balloon with sports and activities that parents need to shuffle kids to and from, and actual play time can be forgotten.

    And even when kids do have time to play they may end up playing with something that has a screen. Summer is a great opportunity to let kids use their bodies and minds to play. If you need a little help remembering how to play, read on for some ideas.

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  • 02 of 06

    Play Time for Kids With Pets

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    If you don't have a pet, I'm not advocating going out and getting one as a summertime toy for your child. But if you do, summer can be a great time for kids to bond with family pets. Kids can throw a stick for a dog, dangle cat toys, snuggle their guinea pig or hamster while reading or watching TV, and teach a dog a trick.

    And in turn summer is a good time for asking for more responsibility for pets. A few tasks that kids (depending on their ages) may be able to handle with a little training: refilling water bowls, scooping the litter box, brushing a cooperative dog, feeding a fish, cleaning a small animal's habitat and walking a well-behaved dog (maybe just around the yard).


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  • 03 of 06

    Fantasy Play Time

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    Many kids need very little help in letting their imaginations take over. A cardboard box could just do the trick, but parents can add fuel to kids' imaginative fire by provide some toys that inspire the imagination -- like doll houses, play sets, trains, building toys, kitchen sets or play work benches. All of these things act as a prompt for the fantasies that kids naturally love to spin. Likewise, books and audio books can provide the bases for their stories. As a parent, you can't really "make" kids use their imaginations, all you can do is set the stage by providing a few props and most importantly the unstructured time.


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  • 04 of 06

    Dress Up Play Time


     Costumes inspire imaginative play like almost nothing else.Sure, dolls, action figures and building toys get kids creating fantasies, but with costumes kids are immersed in imaginative play. They become the characters they create.

    The benefits of this kid of imaginative play goes beyond just the moment when kids are playing; it teaches kids many skills--everything from buttoning buttons to dealing with complex emotions.

    Older kids, obviously, are not going to spend hours in dress up play, but the skills they learn dressing up as toddlers, preschoolers and early school-age kids will help them remain independent and imaginative tweens and teens.


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  • 05 of 06

    Kids' Play Time: Board Games and Cards

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    Good old-fashioned board games and card games are an important part of play throughout childhood. They teach kids skills not learned on electronic games--set up and clean up, manipulation of the pieces, how to win and lose gracefully, game strategies based on the people playing.

    It's a good idea to play games with kids when you are not working so they know how to play--and act--during a game. In our house, the kids like it better when I play, but I've got work to do. So sometimes I will schedule a game during my lunch break, but because part of the idea is to get the sibling playing together, I always say, "Play together first, then I'll play."

    Though most games require more than one player;  there are games for one player.

    More: Treasure Hunts for Kids

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  • 06 of 06

    Kids' Play Time: Active (or Whole Body) Games


    When we think of games we think of a sedentary activity, sitting still at a table, but there are all kinds of games and types of play that involve the whole body. These give kids a chance to burn of excess mental and physical energy.  Many of these can be played indoors or outdoors. A few ideas: tag (outside), flashlight tag (inside in the basement), hide and seek (inside or out), charades, hopscotch, jump rope.

    More: Ignite Your Child's Creativity