Motherhood, Art, Creative Play, and Finding Joy in Everyday Life

Play Outside the Box


I am always trying to think outside the box (or toybox, perhaps?) when it comes to play with Simon. I know that the number one way for children to learn about the world around them- its textures and smells, the colors and the physics, the differences and relationships of things- is through play and hands on experience.

I just adore catching Simon in moments when he is quiet and intense, and I find him very carefully arranging objects on his little table, or tearing up pieces of a tissue as small as he can possibly get them, or even giving his baby doll a ride on a toy dinosaur. In these moments he is not just playing; he is also learning about his world, soaking up information about the relationships of things, the way things feel, and the different scenarios he can dream up with his imagination.

Especially on the days that we are stuck inside because of weather or illness, I try to tap into my own imagination and come up with things to present him with that will stimulate play and experimentation.

Here are a few things we have played with lately, that are a little out of the ordinary in terms of what might come to mind right away when thinking of child’s play:

A selection of leaves. He could see that each one is different, but they are all leaves, and could feel them in his hands.

A pile of sticks.

A collection of acorns.*

Slate that Simon found in the park, which we washed and then drew on together with chalk.

My collection of travel mugs. He enjoyed taking the lids off and putting them back on and seeing which lids he could fit onto which cups.

Junk mail! We do this one often. As I sort the mail I give him all the pieces that are to be recycled saying “Simon, this one is for you.” and let him go nuts. Sometimes we color on them, sometimes I show him how to fold a piece into a fan, sometimes he just enjoys piling it all back up again after spreading it out. (And then starting over again, of course.)

Paint in a ziplock bag. We do finger paint without the bag as well, but this was a chance to experiment with squishing it around inside of the baggie to feel the different sensation this presented.

One of Mumma’s scarves. Wearing it, trailing it along, wrapping it onto things, and playing peekaboo with it.

The broom. He loves practicing with it, and mimicking Mumma and Daddy.

Do you have more to share? Please comment or post a link.

*A note about acorns: When bringing them inside to be played with, take care to pick the greener, more freshly fallen ones, or those still on the tree. The ones that have sat for a while on the ground may have been burrowed into by little creatures. We had a few like this, and though I was certain I had thrown away all the ones with tiny holes, we still had one little wormy emerge a few days later. Gross!


Author: thismummaslife

I am a Mumma, Wife and part-time Assistant Children's Librarian. I want this blog to be a collection of moments from daily life that may inspire or be relatable. Please feel free to leave me comments, thoughts, feedback or stories from your own life.

6 thoughts on “Play Outside the Box

  1. I think your blog is awesome! It will enlighten and delight all those who venture on to your blog. Keep up the great work!
    Your Dad

  2. We always have what I call “flotsam” in the house. Papers, ribbons, windowed envelopes, plastic cups, and the odd stone and stick. All of that is far more fascinating a lot of the time than any official toy in the house 🙂

    I also gave my tot some old scarves (some knit and some silk) and hats I had stored away and not used for years. Old chunky bracelet jewelry is also quite popular 🙂

    • I live the idea of “flotsam”! It is so true, my Simon is always more interested in such things than what some may consider to be “proper” toys. Working with felt for a craft last night led me to consider making a scrap bin for him to play with. i know I have seen sensory bins like this on pinterest.

      I love dress-up toys! Reading “”The Creative Family” by Amanda Blake Soule recently reminded me that I wanted to get a dress-up trunk or bin together. I have some things stored away from former costumes to get the collection started…love your ideas! Thanks for stopping by and sharing 🙂

  3. ugh…you got wormed too!

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