The Best Tip for Entertaining Kids

April 24, 2012

When I first graduated with my teaching degree, I had a job working at a daycare with toddlers.  It was not my ideal job.  I was making just over minimum wage, knew nothing about toddlers, and was dying to work in the public school system.  Looking back, however, it was good for me.  One of the best things about working at the daycare was that I got to work with an amazing lady.  Margaret was incredible.  She was upbeat, organized, efficient, and knew so much about what to do with kids. 

Margaret employed what I'll call the "Dump and Play" strategy.  She wouldn't just midly suggest that kids go and play with bubbles or dinosaurs or babies.  Instead, she would take the toys out, dump them on the table and start playing.  This trick works all of the time.

If you ever need to entertain kids: Dump toys out, then start playing with them.

Once kids see how fun and cool those toys are, they'll be there playing too.  (And then if you're like me with my kids at home, you'll try and sneak away to get some work done while your kids do their "work.")  This trick works especially well for toddler/preschooler set, but I think it would even work on adults. 

This afternoon, when I needed to get some work done for Mr. Emily's business, I laid out a bunch of junk on the kitchen table.  After sitting down and playing for a minute, I left Kid 1 alone, and had 30 solid minutes of productive time.

She was building towers and houses, and was very engaged.  After playing at the table, she moved onto building a cardboard box house from a salvaged recycling bin item.

If I would have just said, "I need to get some work done, find something to do," chances are good that her mind would have been blank, and that finding something to do would have been impossible.  Usually, when I set out toys or an activity, engaged playing is the result.

So, what about you?  Do you already use the "Dump and Play" method?  What's your best tip for entertaining kids?


Angela said...

I think this is a great tip! And I kinda started doing it with my 21 month old son. I figured he'd learn how to play from watching me play with his toys, and he has. Thanks for sharing!

Emily said...

Thanks Angela! You're totally right, I think that kids do learn how to play with toys by watching their parents and big siblings. Playing with your kids toys with them is also a great way to develop language skills, if you talk about what you are doing (as in: "I'm putting the cow in the barn. Now I'm taking the cow out of the barn.)

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