With the highest regard, this is a sponsored post with Melissa and Doug.
All opinions are my own and I am thrilled to collaborate with their team on a conversation around The Power of Play. You can read all about Melissa and Doug’s mission here.
We all seem to want it.
We want our children to spend less time on tablets, and more time playing.
But there are some struggles that come along for the ride.
How will I transition away from so much screen time?
How can I encourage child-led learning?
How do I get my children to stop arguing over the same toy?
After spending the week last year in NYC with Melissa and Doug, I’ve collaborated with a group of play experts, influencers, and moms that feel overloaded to discuss ways we can #takebackchildhood.
I’m here to share with you all that we talked about and possible solutions to protect and promote more playtime in the home. – both indoors and out.
RELATED: Want ideal gifts for your toddler and preschooler? Us too! See our entire gift guide list HERE.
Have you ever met a mom that doesn’t feel overloaded?
We live in a world when everything moves at a very fast pace. Kids are taught to read prior to the recommended age of 5-7, homework comes home daily, and weekends are packed with scheduled sports and celebrations.
So the big question is:
How can we protect and promote playtime?
You can begin to transition screen time in a couple of different ways.
Begin each morning with a Breakfast Invitation.
Use the oven clock as a visual to show the new screen time. Add the new time on a Post-It above the hour on the screen. This creates a visual for children to understand what time they can watch a show.
Charge your iPad to a low percentage. When it’s done, they are done too.
Share with your children that play is important, and show them you care by modeling some screen-free time yourself.
First up, the basics of play.
Why is child-led learning so important for development?
“The most powerful learning experiences often happen when children are simply given the space to work things out on their own – to come up with their unique way to occupy a rainy day, to finish a difficult puzzle, to fill a blank page with their ideas or to resolve a dispute over who goes first in a board game.” Melissa and Doug
Children need to play to navigate through life.
After asking you on Instagram, “What are your struggles when it comes to playing?”, the majority of responses had to do with finding ways for multiple ages to work together and how to resolve conflict.
You also wanted to know how to minimize screens and encourage more independent playtime at home.
And it happens! When children argue, it is much easier to take a break from play and transition to the TV. Children are then quiet and peace resumes. – I get that and can fall in the same trap.
But some danger resides in that solution.
Did you know that when children argue over who gets to play what, when, and/or how, they are actually navigating how to negotiate and understand different points of view?
For one, working through a disagreement helps children become more empathetic and helps them understand how to come together as a team. You get a little of what you want, I get a little back, and the game continues. When someone upsets a friend in a really fun game, the game abruptly comes to an end. With practice, they will learn to prevent that.
So keep practicing! They will get it!
Some possible phrases to help to troubleshoot arguments:
Let’s make a plan.
How can I help you?
What supplies do you need to get started?
Do you have a problem to solve?
What if we tried it this way?
Think of play in these four main categories:
The following four categories are taken from the book, Purposeful Play.
Imaginary Play – abstract thinking, using creativity to guide play
Constructive Play – product-oriented such as building with blocks
Games with Rules – helps with understanding winning and losing, following directions
Rough and Tumble – play with a little risk, more physical contact
In relation to these four categories of play, did you know:
“Melissa and Doug’s products provide a launch pad to ignite imagination and a sense of wonder in all children so they can discover themselves, their passions, and their purpose.” Melissa & Doug’s bio
Isn’t that play mission incredible?
After touring the showroom in NYC, here are some of my favorite suggestions from Melissa & Doug toys.
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Shown in our cover picture, this puzzle is perfect for all ages!
I love the simple creativity of this dollhouse. Its the perfect height for small children and allows imaginary play. – Imaginary play is another thing that can be cut short once school age. Allow your children the time to dive deep into imaginary play and discover ways to express their emotions with this dollhouse.
This tool bench is another gem that has been in our home for over 3 years. The boys have used these tools countless amounts of time both on and off the bench. It never fails that they run for their tool box any time someone is working on a project.
These flexible figures offer a great addition to pretend play. Children can role play family situations or dream up new ideas.
This block set is a must. Block play encourages creativity, explores balance, tests spacial awareness and reinforces weight. Sadly, schools do not get time to integrate as much block time as they have in the past. Allow your child to share in the joy of block play!
Looking for a Breakfast Invitation that is already created? This Magnetic Pattern Block Kit is sure to be a hit! Start with one card for each child. When completed, show them the other fun options.
Guess what Santa is bringing? Yep! This Bead Sequencing Set will be a huge hit. I love how they can set everything up on their own to get started.
Games with Rules
Test balance and steady hand control with Suspend Junior. This is the perfect after dinner game to get the family working together.
We have had this floor puzzle for over three years now and love it! You can modify difficulty for little learners by handing them two pieces at a time to choose from. “Let’s check what comes next. A, B, C, D…E! Which one of these puzzle pieces show an E? Does this look like an E, or does this one?”
Test hand-eye coordination along with balance and coordination with this fun fishing game!
Rough and Tumble Play
Encourage movement with these fun active play toys!
Giddy Buggy is happy to invite active kids to crawl through a rainbow of color in this bright tunnel. Giddy’s smiling face covers one end, making it extra fun to hide and seek in this nearly five-foot-long tube. Made of durable wipe-clean materials, it sets up quickly and easily folds flat for convenient storage. Sturdy steel frame is padded for comfort and hours of activity.
Sunny Patch’s Trixie the ladybug’s smiling face makes it extra fun for kids ages 2+ to learn and practice early catching and kicking games. Made of durable rubber, this colorful and easy to handle playground ball is great for backyard fun or playing games in the park. Trixie brings plenty of smiles to her friends in Sunny Patch and adds an adorable twist to a classic toy that helps develop gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
The always-happy Giddy Buggy will bowl you over with his smiling face and this exciting kid-sized bowling set! The six 8-inch-tall, multi-colored Giddy Buggy pins can be used both inside and outside–set them up then roll the included ball to knock them down. Durable construction means these pins stand up to endless tumbles. Game encourages hand-eye coordination and dexterity, and promotes early counting sills.
Additional favorite toys:
Igniting imagination and promoting play is important to Melissa and Doug as it is to most other families.
Let’s ignite imagination and promote more play at home, both indoor and outdoor.