Sensory Playdates

This is a very simple idea for multiple playdates to teach young kids about their senses.  You can do a separate playdate for each of the senses.  Use items from around the house as the props and as the kids sit in a circle pass around the items and talk to them about the items and what senses they feel.  I’ll use smell as the example:

That’s Smelly! Playdate

Choose several items to pass around to the kids and try to have them describe how the item smells.  Try not to use any loose powder items like spices or scented makeup because they can accidentally inhale them.  Also steer clear of any chemicals.  Some examples are:

Bar of Soap

Flowers

Citrus (scratch the skin for more smell)

Scented Candles

Scented Stickers

Other playdates can focus on sight (light and dark, colors, near and far) or touch (soft, hard, rough, smooth, slick, warm, cold etc.) or sound (loud, quiet, music, talking, car sounds, animal sounds, echoes, etc.) or taste (salty, sweet, sour, bitter, spicy, warm, cold).

Toy or Book Exchange Playdate

This is a very simple idea where each participants brings either a toy or children’s book (whichever theme you choose) and the kids swap the items.  This is a good chance to teach them about sharing.  They also get rid of a toy or book that no longer interests them and they receive a new interesting and FREE item.  Yeah for frugal moms!

Cozy Coupe Playdate

I actually “borrowed” this playdate idea from my friend.  This is a great playdate for anyone who has a safe area such as a long circular driveway, large carport or any other paved area away from the street.  For this playdate each of the participants brings a ride on toy such as a Cozy Coupe, Tricycle, Bicycle, Ride-on Truck or Car, etc.  It works best for ages 18 months and above.

The kids ride around, get physical exercise and have a great time while you teach them about sharing and road rules.

Baby Obstacle Course Playdate

This is a great playdate for children who are just starting to walk or have been walking a short time (usually around 12-18 months old).  This activity is fun and helps them build body coordination and strength.

Using various toys from around the house, you basically set up a mini obstacle course for them to navigate (with your help).  I usually do this in groups of 5 kids.  Each kid takes a turn with Mommy’s help and also gets to watch the other kids during their turn.

In the example above, the kids have to step OVER three pool noodles, zig-zag THROUGH or AROUND some bowling pins, walk DOWN two steps and then kick a soccer ball.  I highlighted those words because you can also focus on teaching directive words while you do this activity.  After the kids each get a turn through the first obstacle course, you can rearrange it to make a new one.  Some other ideas are hopping over one item, walking through two parallel lines, trying to balance on one short flat long item such as a board laying on the floor, etc.  I also incorporated some letter and number recognition exercises into one course by laying three flashcards on the ground and they had to match the three letters to another set of three letters.  There are lots of ways to do that.  Just remember to keep it simple for this age group though!

For slightly older kids (2-2.5 years) you have to make the steps a little more tricky.  Such as have them balance on one foot and place one foot on a ball without falling.  Doing jumping jacks, long jump, hitting a T-Ball and other activities are good as well.

Care Package Playdates

For those people looking for community service projects or playdates to teach the kids to “give back”, this is a good one.  I happen to know a friend whose son was sent to Iraq during the war.  I organized a playdate to gather items the soldiers need (that are in short supply) or miss from home.  Each person signed up to bring an item and I packed the items and shipped them.  The shipping does cost some money but it is not as much as you might think.  If I am remembering correctly, to ship two boxes to Iraq, using the special address used by the military, it cost me less than $10.

You can determine if anyone in your group or circle of friends knows a soldier and you can choose who to help in that manner.  If no one knows a soldier, don’t fret because there are websites you can use to find someone.

Some awesome sites are:

http://www.anysoldier.com/

http://www.operationshoebox.com/

http://thefuntimesguide.com/2005/09/soldierpackages.php