Friends are such an important part of the children’s lives, just like they are ours! We were asked what we typically do on a playdate and wanted to give you some basic ideas to what makes them successful for us. We’d love to hear your ideas as well as that is one of the things that we definitely value about interacting with other parents whether it be at the park, at school, going to each other’s homes or online- there are so many things to learn from each other! Our playdates with the neighbours and other pals often happen at the playground/ splash park in the summer, the skating rink or school hill for sledding in the winter or at places in our city (the science centre, nature centre and museum all have well-loved play areas), but they also happen at our home. Here are a few things that we have found to be helpful: 1) We know the children and their parents/ caregivers that are coming over so the kids are already comfortable with us. Some kids come over with their parents (great to have a cup of tea together and chat) and sometimes they come on their own. 2) We usually stick to about a 1 and half hour playdate unless the kids are really close friends and gel easily with their pal. This gives enough time to play, create and snack and then finish just at that sweet spot. 3) Go with the children’s energy, but provide some options of activities if they would like. Let the children guide the flow of the playdate. We have a large playroom which is where most of the play date takes place. In addition we set up a specific creating opportunity and a play opportunity as an option. Below we show you an example of the creating opportunity. One thing we love is blank wooden items that the kids can decorate with items you might already have and it makes a lovely project for them to take home! A play opportunity might be some water in the sensory bin/ table and some sea creatures etc. or a small world such as fairy land or dinosaurs. The kids pre-set this up to look inviting and something that might draw their guests in! You could have additional items ready if the kids have a shorter attention span. 4) If the parents are comfortable with it, we have a snack- usually watermelon or a fruit salad and a homemade treat (cookies etc.). You could also have a veggie plate or other types of finger foods. We find that a muffin tin meal is often a hit as you can pop lots of different options in the tray for the kids to chose from if they are coming for lunch. Set these up in advance to make it easier. We have also done cookie decorating which the kids enjoy too! (Especially if they make a plate of them to take home as well for their family). Special thanks to our pal R. for coming over- definitely our sons’s special mate! Her wonderful mom is a professional designer and hand-letterer whose beautiful work you can find here: https://justinema.ca/ PLAY DATE INVITATION TO CREATE Materials Blank Wooden Items (plaques) . Our favourite place to get these is: https://woodpeckerscrafts.com/wood-valentines-day-cutouts/ (They have tonnes of seasonal ones) *Use what you have at home, here are a few low maintenance options: Paint Sticks (We like the Kwik Stix brand) Paint Pens (We like the Posca Brand) Beads, buttons etc. (Decorating items) Glue We always find these items useful too: Directions Pre-organzie your supplies. Our kids love to do this- putting the items into trays that are easy for all the kids to reach, setting up all the potential things kids might need (such as the glue for each tray), providing a few options and then making sure each child has a work space. We use craft trays for this to keep those beads and supplies contained! Decorate your heart, eggs etc. as you like. The kids used paint sticks and then applied beads or used the paint sticks. They wrote an inscription on the back of the project too. We have found that the kids not only like to keep the projects for themselves, but they also like to make a surprise for their parents (which I pop into a re-useable gift bag and then they give it to them on Valentine’s Day for example)! It is always good to have a few extra pieces on hand in case the child wants to make a few! They wanted to do the eggs as well so I offered them a different material/medium: For our older kids, this activity was a play date hit: * Our daughter and her cousin literally worked on these for hours one day and they were great when we used them in a children’s program* We’d love to hear your play date tips and ideas in the comment section! Purpose Developing friendships. Creating with different materials in a cooperative setting. Developing language and interaction skills. Safety Notes We suggest that you use a tray and a smock to protect your clothing and surfaces. Use art supplies with care (following product directions) and direct, adult supervision. Beads can be a choking hazard, therefore be sure to keep them out of the reach of children ages 0-3 years of age or those that tend to put things into their mouths. Please like & share: 2 Responses Agneta June 19, 2021 Have fun, structure-ly. Playdates can happen at any age as long as you plan accordingly. I remember a time when my baby was 8-months old and I set-up a time to meet with a friend and her baby. I and the other mom sat in the living room and placed the babies on the floor. We proceeded to stare at the two littles for 15 minutes until it occurred to me that they didn’t know how to play. For the most part, they have always interacted with adults who brought toys and silly games to them. So I got down on the floor and brought out some toys I knew they would want to look at and proceeded to play. Once they got the hang of interacting, I stepped back a bit. Sometimes playdates happened with my toddler wrapped around my leg the whole time, and that’s ok. If you have some ideas on little art projects or certain games they can play with toys or if they are too little for those, just some specific favorite toys they can learn to share, your dates will have a better chance at fun. Reply Bonnie Scorer June 30, 2021 Thank you for your suggestions Agenta! Yes, that little bit of pre-planning does go a long way doesn’t it?! We appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment! Sincerely, The Scorer Family Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Name* Email* Website Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.