Watch Your Kids Play Happily for Hours With This 3 Step Technique – Today is Step Three!

Watch Your Kids Play Happily for Hours

How do you get your kids to play for so long independently? I can’t get anything done because the children always need my help, how do you manage with all your daycare kids?  These are common questions for new home daycare providers and new parents. Over the years I’ve developed a 3 Step Technique that anyone can follow to bring more peace and more focused play into your home.

If you haven’t watched the video that explains Step One of my 3 Step Technique please go back and watch it now before you read this post.  Next, you need to read about Step Two so you can understand today’s final step in this technique.

Hopefully by this point you have gathered your loose parts materials.  You have inspired your children to try out the new loose parts toys by setting up a little playscape.  If they had trouble getting into a game or seeing the possibilities of the loose parts toys you modelled some play options for them.

Today I will give you some suggestions on how to extend the loose parts play.  It’s great if your children are capable of playing with open ended toys but if the play only holds their attention for five minutes then you will quickly run into some problems.

Children who play happily for hours are engaged in their own games.  As a kindergarten teacher, daycare provider and mother I’ve observed countless children at play over the years.

I have concluded that the kids who play happily for hours have the ability to take their games to a new level or a new direction.  

These children will set out some flat blocks of wood as stepping stones and walk across them.  Then they decide to add some pretend rock cushions to jump over. They might add some quick sand blocks or alligator stuffed animals to take the game to the next level. These children continue to add features to their imaginary game as they experiment with each one.  

Children who naturally extend their play have active imaginations and have had the time and space to get deep into a game.  If your children need help extending their play you can do this by giving them two things.

1. Suggestions

In Step Two I spoke about the benefit of having an older child in the group who acts as a model for the younger kids. Older kids (or same age peers who have great ideas) can demonstrate how to take a game to the next level.  They will keep adding fresh ideas so the game twists and turns naturally as they try out different scenarios.

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When I have children in my daycare group who are still learning how to extend their play, I will give them suggestions or offer them props when I can see their game waning.  For example, if the group is playing a pretend alligator swamp game and have exhausted their own ideas of playing on the stepping stones I will offer them a suggestion to take the game in a new direction.  I might ask the kids if they want help laying out a dock (blanket) so they could pretend to fish in the swamp.

They might jump on this suggestion or they might not but chances are my suggestion will help them turn their current play in a new direction.  Often the only thing I need to do is to offer my children some new props.  I might go get them a few wooden spoons to use as fishing poles and the spoons will spark an idea for them.

At first, I try to assist in extending their play by only five minutes.  Gradually, as the group gets the hang of extended play, one game will simply flow into another as the time flies by.

2. Time

Children need a good block of uninterrupted time (20-40 minutes) to experience an extended imaginary game.  Once a child gets into a game they need to have the opportunity to experience a lull in the play.  Getting over this lull and extending the play in a new direction is the key to creative extended play.

At first you will have to offer suggestions to help the kids extend their play bit by bit.  A tiny suggestion and the opportunity of time to work through the lull is key. Eventually, the children will come up with more and more of their own ideas. They will play happily for longer and be able to extend a game for hours.

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I encourage you to give the suggestions in Step 3 a try this week and see how your children react.  I predict that pretty soon your children will be playing happily for hours and you will be amazed at them! May your children’s days be filled with endless play.

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