An Invitation to Play for Toddlers

Whenever the weather requires us to spend extra time indoors, I often look for little things that I can do to make our time in ‘confinement’ more fun. The last few weeks have seen some particularly hot days where we can only really be outdoors for any length of time early in the morning or in the late afternoon. There are quite a few hours in between and as I am dealing with a toddler’s short attention span, this can mean we need lots of little activities to fill our day.

One simple thing I quite like to do is set out an indoor picnic afternoon tea for Immy to enjoy after her nap.

Childhood 101 invitation to play

As you can see, it really is simple. If you look in the picture, you will see the following;

  • A silk scarf for the picnic rug (purchased at a thrift store). I really like scarves as they can be used for so many play experiences. A scarf can be anything from a swaddle for a baby to a superhero cape.
  • Some ‘friends’ to share the meal with. This encourage Immy to engage in a dramatic, social play experience with her dolls and puppy and extends the fun out into other areas, it is no longer just about afternoon tea.
  • Immy’s afternoon tea served in a little wooden bowl. I think this makes such a nice change from plastic or melamine (this is one of a set of four, also from the thrift shop).
  • A teapot and cups (Immy uses the little silver egg cups as cups) to share tea with her toys.
  • A little red bag, like a picnic bag it has some teaspoons and napkins inside.

Of course, your picnic setting could look entirely different, it really depends upon what engages your child to play. A picnic with dinosaurs served in a tent cave would be fun or a picnic on a beach towel with everyone wearing swimmers and sunglasses.

The point is, you are using the opportunity to set the stage for learning, yes, social/dramatic play like this is learning for young children. Taking a minute to present a fun experience in an attractive manner influences your child’s desire to explore and inquire. And, it really does take just a minute.

Related Posts


  1. Such a fun idea, my lil girl enjoys pretend tea-parties too and I asked her what sort of theme she wants for her next birthday and she said pretend tea-party. Imagine how easy would that be 😉

    (our friends wont be too happy though with pretend food, haha)

  2. We have that exact same teapot! Honeybee got it for Christmas and all three girls love it 😉

  3. KambingBujang says:

    My hubby always plays football,hide&seek or sweat out activities with my little son while me more on teacher & student activities. Maybe i should try this idea on my son

  4. I love this idea on ‘invitation to play’, coz some kids have tons of toys but do not play with it. am going to do more of this yeay! Thanks.

Comments are closed.