Thursday 30 May 2013

Team Tag – Simple Cars and Crayons

Today I have a little surprise for you. The contributors to Childhood 101 are playing a team tag game where we are sending readers on a journey through the blogosphere. So it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you fellow contributor, Kate from Picklebums. Today you can find me over at Octavia and Vicky with an energetic improvisation game for kids.

Kate is  an early childhood educator and Mum of four, who lives on a small property called ‘The Pickle Farm’ in rural Australia. Kate writes about all sorts of wonderful things from gentle parenting, gardening, family food to fun printables for the kids. Thanks for being here today Kate. (follow the link at the bottom of the post to join our game of tag)

There are times when I need a quick and easy activity to engage one or two of my kids while I attend to something, or someone else. I don't have time to set up a fancy art activity, or create an elaborate imaginative play scene. What I need is something that is quick to set up, easy to clean up and that even my toddler can do independently. And sometimes, these quick and easy, spare of the moment activities turn out to be really great... this was one of those times!

I just needed ten minutes to have a sane, adult, phone conversation. I needed something new and interesting to engage my five year old and something the toddler could also join in with. It had to be an activity where they could work side by side, together, but still with enough space to do their own thing. 

I thought for a moment... what is one thing they both like right now? And how can I present that in a different, but easy to set up way? Then I had a brainwave!

I got out the long roll of paper and spread it right along our large dining table, from end to end. 

I grabbed the big box of pastels and dumped them in the middle of the paper.

I grabbed a handful of cars and popped them on the paper too.

Then I drew a road down the middle of the paper as the boys watched me.

That was it.

It didn't take the boys long to get in on the action...

Noah (who is two) drove cars up and down the road, while Morgan (who is five) drew car parking spaces, trees and an airport.

After I'd made my phone call and wandered back in I discovered both boys busy drawing their own roads and other items, creating elaborate imaginative play scenarios, making car noises and playing together happily.

I tucked this super simple idea away in a corner of my brain and have used it a few times since. We revisited the cars idea and also had lots of fun with drawing things for our wooden people. Even the big girls (nine year old twins) got in on the action when we combined Lego with the drawing.

I'd love to hear your ideas for super simple play that really hits the spot for your kids!

(You can find Kate on her blog, facebook, pinterest and twitter.)

Thanks so much Kate for your super simple and fun idea. To keep the team tag going pop over and visit me at Octavia and Vicky. I have been dying to share our improvisation game.... exploring creativity in a different way. And then keep going and visit all the blogs in the team tag. There might be a new one to discover! Cheers Ali xx


  1. Simple ideas rock, don't they? Thanks for sharing this one ... it could come in seriously handy in my house, too.

  2. The simple ideas are always the best :)

  3. Big rolls of paper have to be one of the best materials for playful and creative improvisation with kids - it is just a blank canvas for so many great ideas. I love the simplicity of this idea, Kate.

  4. What a great idea. I need to get my hands on some of that paper. For a few years we have been using super big sheets of paper donated by an architect friend of a friend (pre-used on one side of course), but we have just about run out.

    My quick and simple activity for a few minutes quiet is usually playdough. As long as I don't overuse it, it's always a winner. Even my 11 year old will still play with it occasionally especially if I give him a challenge (like, how many insects can you make). I make a big batch up periodically, usually just one colour at a time, and it keeps for ever (almost).

    It's amazing to me how long even my three year old can be kept occupied with playdough, a rolling pin and maybe a few animal cutters or a (blunt) knife. The complicated playdough toys that they've sometimes been given tend to require my involvement, but if I keep it simple, they make up stories with a few worms and snakes and go from there.

    1. I completely agree with you - the complicated playdough toys need my involvement btu they are happy to play with playdough for ages with a few simple accessories.

  5. I did this when I taught preschool as well. I used boxes and let the kids make cars from playdough.

    Great Post.


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