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Why is play so important?

Play is an essential activity for the foundation of children’s learning. Through play, children explore the world and develop literacy, maths, life and cognitive skills. One of our advocacy goals is to inspire and motivate adults that live and take care of a child(ren) to make time and space to play and learn to improve school readiness. Here are some  ideas of well-known games to play in the home environment.

Simon says

This classic game helps children develop listening skills and improves their ability to follow instructions.

  • One player is designated as "Simon" and gives commands starting with "Simon says..." (e.g. "Simon says touch your toes").
  • Players must only follow commands preceded by "Simon says." If "Simon" gives a command without saying "Simon says" first and a player follows it, they are out.
  • The last player remaining becomes the next "Simon."

  • Puzzle time

    Choose age-appropriate puzzles to help develop problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination.

  • Choose a puzzle appropriate for your child's age and skill level.
  • Spread out the puzzle pieces on a flat surface.
  • Encourage your child to start assembling the puzzle by finding pieces that fit together.
  • Offer guidance and praise as they progress.

  • Building blocks

    Encourage creativity and fine motor skills by building towers, houses, or other structures with blocks.
    • Provide a variety of building blocks or construction toys.
    • Encourage your child to use their imagination to build structures.
    • Demonstrate different building techniques and encourage experimentation.
    • Engage in cooperative play by building together or taking turns adding to a shared creation.

    Nature scavenger hunt

    Take a walk outside or gather items from the backyard to create a scavenger hunt. This game promotes observation skills and an appreciation for nature.

    • Create a list of items for your child to find outdoors (e.g., a pinecone, a red leaf, a feather).
    • Give them a basket or bag to collect their findings.
    • Go on a walk together to search for the items on the list.
    • Encourage observation and exploration while discussing the items found.


    Read books together and encourage your child to retell the story in their own words. This helps with language development and comprehension.

    • Choose a book suited to your child's age and interests.
    • Find a comfortable place to sit together.
    • Read the story aloud, using expressive voices and engaging your child with questions or comments about the plot and illustrations.
    • After reading, encourage your child to retell the story in their own words or act it out using props or toys.

    Music and movement

    Put on some music and dance together, or give your child simple instruments to play. This promotes coordination and rhythm.

    • Play upbeat music and encourage your child to dance and move along.
    • Teach simple dance moves or encourage freestyle dancing.
    • Provide musical instruments such as tambourines, shakers, or drums for your child to play along with the music.
    • Sing songs together and incorporate movements or actions into the lyrics.


    Set up a pretend play area with costumes and props where children can use their imagination to act out different scenarios. This fosters creativity and social skills.

    • Set up a designated area for pretend play with costumes, props, and toys.
    • Encourage your child to choose a role or character to portray.
    • Provide prompts or scenarios to inspire imaginative play (e.g., playing house, pretending to be superheroes, acting out a favourite story).
    • Join in the play as a supportive co-player or take on a role yourself to enhance the experience.

    Sorting and matching games

    Use everyday items like buttons, socks, or toys to practice sorting by colour, size, shape, or category.

    • Gather a collection of items to sort or match (e.g. buttons, toys, coloured blocks).
    • Provide sorting trays, containers, or mats with different categories (e.g. colours, shapes, sizes).
    • Encourage your child to sort or match the items according to the given criteria.
    • Offer praise and reinforcement as they successfully complete the task.

    Obstacle course

    Create a simple obstacle course using pillows, cushions, and other household items to promote gross motor skills and spatial awareness.

    • Design an obstacle course using furniture, pillows, cushions, and other safe household items.
    • Create a path with different challenges such as crawling under tables, jumping over obstacles, or balancing on a line.
    • Demonstrate each task and encourage your child to complete the course, providing support and encouragement as needed.
    • Time them to add an element of challenge or race against each other for added fun.

    Cooking together

    Involve your child in simple cooking or baking activities like mixing ingredients, kneading dough, or decorating cookies. This promotes maths skills, following directions, and introduces them to different foods.

    • Choose a simple recipe to make with your child, ensuring safety and supervision at all times.
    • Gather ingredients and equipment needed for the recipe.
    • Involve your child in tasks such as measuring ingredients, stirring, or decorating.
    • Talk about the ingredients and cooking process to introduce basic culinary concepts.

    DIY crafts

    Set up a crafting station with supplies like paper, crayons, glue, and scissors. Encourage your child to get creative and make artwork or simple crafts like paper plate masks or handprint animals.

    • Set up a designated crafting area with supplies.
    • Provide a variety of materials and let your child choose what they want to create.
    • Offer suggestions and assistance as needed, but encourage independence and creativity.
    • Display or use the finished crafts to celebrate your child's creativity.

    Indoor camping

    Set up a tent or build a fort with blankets and pillows indoors.
    Have a pretend camping adventure with stories, snacks, and even a "campfire" (LED candles or flashlight).

    • Create a cosy camping atmosphere with blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows inside the tent or fort.
    • Bring in flashlights or battery-powered lanterns to simulate a campfire.
    • Plan camping-themed activities such as telling stories, singing campfire songs, or stargazing (with paper star cutouts or a projector).

    Memory games

    Play memory card games or create your own by placing items on a tray, covering them with a cloth, and then removing one item for your child to guess what's missing. This strengthens memory and observation skills.

    • Gather a set of matching cards or create your own by drawing pairs of pictures or symbols on index cards.
    • Shuffle the cards and arrange them face down in a grid formation.
    • Players take turns flipping over two cards to try to find matching pairs.
    • If a player finds a match, they keep the pair and take another turn.
    If not, they flip the cards back over, and it's the next player's turn.
    • The game continues until all pairs have been matched, and the player with the most pairs wins.

    Board games

    Introduce age-appropriate board games like Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, Monopoly, 30 seconds and Pictionary. These games teach turn-taking, counting, and basic strategy.

    • Choose a board game suitable for your child's age and interests.
    • Set up the game board and pieces according to the instructions.
    • Review the rules of the game with your child, explaining how to take turns, move pieces, and win.
    • Play the game together, offering guidance and encouragement as needed.
    • Discuss strategies and sportsmanship throughout the game, focusing on having fun and learning from the experience.

    Treasure hunt

    Create a treasure map with clues leading to a hidden "treasure" somewhere in the house. This game promotes problem-solving skills and encourages exploration.

    • Create a map or list of clues leading to a hidden treasure (e.g. a small toy or treat).
    • Hide the clues and treasure in various locations around the house.
    • Provide the first clue to your child and encourage them to follow the clues to find the treasure.
    • Offer hints or assistance as needed, depending on your child's age and ability.
    • Celebrate when the treasure is found and consider hiding new treasures for future hunts.

    Science experiments

    Conduct simple science experiments at home, such as making slime, creating a baking soda volcano, or exploring buoyancy with sink or float experiments. This sparks curiosity and introduces basic scientific concepts.

    • Choose a simple science experiment suitable for your child's age and interests (e.g. making slime, creating a baking soda volcano).
    • Gather materials and set up a safe workspace.
    • Follow the instructions for the experiment step by step, allowing your child to participate in each stage.
    • Encourage observation, prediction, and discussion throughout the experiment.
    • Reflect on the results and discuss the science behind what happened.

    Yoga for kids

    Follow along with kid-friendly yoga videos or create your own simple yoga poses.
    This promotes relaxation, flexibility, and body awareness.
    • Find a kid-friendly yoga video or guide online, or create your own sequence of simple yoga poses.
    • Clear a space for practicing yoga, preferably on a non-slip surface.
    • Guide your child through each yoga pose, focusing on proper alignment and breathing.
    • Encourage your child to listen to their body and modify poses as needed.
    • Incorporate storytelling or imaginative elements into the yoga practice to make it more engaging for children.


    Start a small indoor garden with easy-to-grow plants like herbs or succulents. Involve your child in planting, watering, and caring for the plants, teaching them about nature and responsibility.

    • Choose a suitable indoor gardening project such as planting herbs, succulents, or small vegetables.
    • Gather supplies including pots, soil, seeds or plants, and watering cans.
    • Involve your child in planting, watering, and caring for the plants, teaching them about growth and responsibility.
    • Discuss the importance of sunlight, water, and nutrients for plant growth.
    • Monitor the progress of the garden together and celebrate milestones like sprouting seeds or harvesting vegetables.

    DIY bowling

    Set up a bowling alley using empty plastic bottles or paper towel rolls as pins and a soft ball as the bowling ball. This game promotes hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills.

    o Set up a bowling alley using empty plastic bottles or paper towel rolls as pins and a soft ball as the bowling ball.
    o Arrange the pins in a triangular formation at the end of a hallway or open space.
    o Take turns bowling, aiming to knock down as many pins as possible with each roll.
    o Keep score if desired, or simply focus on having fun and improving bowling skills.
    o Reset the pins and continue playing as many rounds as you like.