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:  Here's a few tips that we use for creating a successful playdate!

PLAY DATE INVITATION TO CREATE

Materials

*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:

SmockCraftTray

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!

Play Date Invitation to Create:  Here's a few tips that we use for creating a successful playdate!

Play Date Invitation to Create:  Here's a few tips that we use for creating a successful playdate!

  • 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!

Play Date Invitation to Create:  Here's a few tips that we use for creating a successful playdate!

Play Date Invitation to Create:  Here's a few tips that we use for creating a successful playdate!

Play Date Invitation to Create:  Here's a few tips that we use for creating a successful playdate!

They wanted to do the eggs as well so I offered them a different material/medium:

Play Date Invitation to Create:  Here's a few tips that we use for creating a successful playdate!

 

Play Date Invitation to Create: Here's a few tips that we use for creating a successful playdate!

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.
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