We all seem to want to promote playtime.
We want our children to spend less time on tablets to promote playtime, yet there can also some struggles that come along for the ride.
How will I transition away from so much screen time?
Can I encourage child-led learning?
How do I get my children to stop arguing over the same toy?
With the highest regard, this is a sponsored post from 2018 with Melissa and Doug that continues to be updated. 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.
After spending a week in 2018 in NYC with Melissa and Doug, I’ve collaborated with a group of play experts, influencers, and moms who 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.
Have you ever met a caregiver who 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. Oy!
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 a digital 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.
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 into the same trap.
But some problems may reside 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 play! Your children will soon become experts with figuring things out on their own.
Some possible phrases to help to navigate arguments from the sidelines
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?
“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?
Now, let’s get to the fun part. Here are my favorite toys from Melissa and Doug that promote playtime!
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I scream, you scream, we all scream for this ice cream set! – You know I had to go there. We adore this ice cream set and have used it for years. A great toy for kids to break the ice with new houseguests and engage in conversation.
In addition to the ice cream set, this snack and sandwich counter is a hit. Place an order and watch role-playing come alive.
This sweet caterpillar toy had a home in our playroom for years! All three practiced recognizing their colors as we built, played, and twirled the gears.
New here? This white paper roll is life. We use this paper every day. From Breakfast Invitations to free draw, we wouldn’t be the same without it. A great tool to inspire simple play every day! In fact, here is an entire collection of ideas for ways to use this paper roll.
Children are natural-born caregivers. Allow them to explore their inner veterinarian as they welcome each animal into the “office”. A loveable way to play!
The joy this toy brings is contagious. Nothing screams, “I’m a big kid!” like being able to role play slicing and cutting up fruit. Toddlers and preschoolers feel confident and proud when they prepare the imaginary food for a parent, stuffed animal, or themselves. We love this toy!
Add this to your list right now if you do not yet have it. This little cart has been with us for a while, and there have been years of tossing it in the trunk before heading to the grocery store. This gave my child a “job” to do as we shopped together. It kept him focused and created some fun memories of his childhood. You can also keep the cart at home and watch your child fill it up and transport items around the home. Excellent toy for gross motor, expanding vocabulary and developing the art of transporting. Winner, winner!
Like some other toys we mentioned on our toy lists, this is a great toy to grab and go. Toss it in your bag for your next Dr. appointment, lunch out, or even a Breakfast Invitation. There are 14 scenes to find details and match with coordinating stickers. Great for hand-eye coordination!
I love the simple creativity of this dollhouse. It’s the perfect height for small children and allows imaginary play. Imaginary play is another thing that can be cut short once kids hit school age. Allow your children the time to dive deep into imaginary play and discover ways to express their emotions with this dollhouse.
These flexible figures offer a great addition to pretend play. Children can role-play family situations or dream up new ideas. Arms and legs flex and bend to stand and sit.
Anything on wheels is a hit over here! The boys played with these cars toddlers, and the driving has carried on right into the older years. If your children love cars and trucks, they will love this set!
We have two of these costumes, and there is nothing cuter than seeing the two older boys all suited upcoming around the corner ready to put out a fire. They can even dress with this one! Melissa and Doug have a great collection of role-playing costumes. Another favorite is the Race Car Driver shown here.
Shout out to our first set of unit blocks!! You know this set has our hearts.
This block set is a must. Block play encourages creativity, explores balance, tests spatial 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 at home for years to come.
Building exploration into math and science, these blocks are exciting for problem-solving and making predictions. I wonder how many you can stack before they fall? Can you make a fort? Make a wall and see how many you can knock over with a bean bag.
Bead sequencing is an enjoyable way to begin following two-step directions. Gather the beads you need to create the same sequence on the wooden card. This set is well-made and has also lasted for years in our home.
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 shows an E? (show the letters E and any other letter) Does this look like an E, or does this one?
Have multiple children assemble the puzzle for collaboration and practice with letter sounds.
Aren’t Melissa and Doug toys great? They promote playtime in our home every day.
Igniting imagination and promoting play is as important to Melissa and Doug as it is to all of us!