Sunday, January 4, 2015

Our year of engaging play: 12 intentional play themes

We made it! Twelve months of intentional play - with themed play each month of 2014. It's been such a great opportunity to really get into play with Dear Boy. Some months were easier to manage than others and some themes were more engaging than others (for us and for Dear Boy).

My favourites?
  • Autumn (apple-picking was the bomb)
  • Health (that doctor's kit was the best idea - Dear Boy is still dragging it out regularly)
  • Winter (our first trip to the snow!)
  • Science (Lovely Husband really got into this one with us)
  • Christmas (I am a sucker for Christmas regardless)
Dear Boy's favourites?

  • Construction (giant machines!)
  • Science (Daddy joined in!)
  • Space (rockets are the best)
  • Christmas (he's a recent convert)
If you've been struggling to engage with your kids during play time or are all out of ideas for craft or mini-adventures, I'd definitely recommend setting up some simple themes. We followed the themes loosely some months and really got into others, but it was so helpful to have a starting point.

Advice for putting together your own themed list?
  1. Look at events and activities that are planned for the year (seasons, festivals, public holidays, family holidays, birthdays, etc) and work in as many as you can;
  2. Consider what your child's interested in now (I always knew the construction theme would be a winner)
  3. Think about particular lessons or ideas you want them to learn (reflecting on health, safety, values, family rules, etc)
  4. Ask for ideas (or check out pinterest)
  5. Think big and small (having a few big adventures helped plan smaller related activities)
  6. Invite someone to join you (your partner or another family can add new perspectives and extra fun)

Here are all the themes below with each photo a link to each month's wrap up.

 January: Summer, sun, sand, water, ocean, swimming, boats, underwater creatures

February:  Emotions, love, Valentine's Day, red, pride, Winter Olympics, white, St Patrick's Day, green, frustration, sadness, joy (yeah, I know Paddie's day's in March - but it fit better here in terms of colours, etc - so we crafted early).

March:  Autumn, leaves, harvest, farm animals, fruits and vegetables, cooking.

April: Easter, eggs, bunnies, bilbies, traditions, patterns

May: Health, doctors, nurses, dentists, the body, ambulance

June: Winter, snow, snowflakes, snowmen, Arctic/Antarctica, penguins, polar bears, wales, seals


July: construction, transportation, signs, engineering, machines, building materials

August: Science, five senses, temperature, gravity, dinosaurs, fossils

September: Spring, garden, planting, insects, birds, baby animals

October: the universe, moons, stars, constellations, rockets, planets, Earth, maps

November: weather, rain, sun, rainbows, storms, clouds, clothing, umbrellas.

December: Christmas, decorations, tree, lights, traditions, presents and giving to others.

What themes have you been exploring with your kids? Any suggestions for 2015?

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