5 Quick and Easy Play Ideas You Can Set Up in Less Than 2 Minutes

When my eldest, Paige, was little I used to spend a LOT of time creating new and exciting play activities for her. I mean, she would nap for three hours each day and so as a first time mum with no other little ones to run around after, I had all the time in the world to spend setting up activities for her!

These days, things are a bit different.

Now we have three cherubs – and with that comes three times more clothes to wash and fold, three times more lunches to make, three times more dishes to do. Needless to say, my time is precious. I do NOT have the time, nor energy, to be spending countless hours setting up activities for any of the kids!

Fortunately though, Paige and Samuel are at the age where they mostly keep themselves entertained. Little Harrison still needs my help some of the time though, especially on the days where the big kids are at school. That’s when I need an activity that I can throw together in a few minutes or less, but will keep him busy for at least 10 to 15 minutes so I can smash out a job or two off my to-do list!

And maybe you find yourself needing some super quick play inspo every now and then too? Well, you’re in luck because today I’m sharing some of Harrison’s favourite activities that I can get set up in under two minutes!

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Water Painting

Water painting is super quick, super easy and perfect for a huge range of ages!

What you’ll need:

  • Cup or small bowl with water
  • Old paintbrush

How to play:

Head outside and let your little one explore drawing on the pavement with the wet paintbrush! There is no *wrong* way to explore, which is what makes it so perfect for so many different ages and developmental stages! Young toddlers might like to simply make marks on the ground, whereas older children might like to draw faces, shapes or even practice writing their name. And on sunny days, all children – no matter their age – will love watching the magic of the water disappearing as it evaporates. And to top it all off, when your little one has finished, there’s absolutely ZERO clean-up!

Pots, Pans and Pasta Play

If you’ve ever found yourself with a very clingy little munchkin as you’re tying to get dinner ready, try this to keep them entertained close by while you finish dishing up!

What you’ll need:

  • A saucepan, pot or bowl
  • Dry pasta
  • One or two utensils eg large spoons or measuring cups

How to play:

Pour a small amount of dry pasta into a saucepan, add another saucepan or bowl and a couple of utensils and let your little one practice their scooping and pouring or imaginary play as they copy you to ‘cook’ dinner.

Hot tip: Set your little one up near you, as when they can see you and talk to you as they play, they’ll play for so much longer than when they feel alone!

Inside Outside

Sometimes, all our little ones need is a change in scenery to spark play, not a bunch of new toys!

What you need:

  • A toy that is usually kept inside
  • Blanket or rug (optional)
  • A sunny day (preferabbly)

How to play:

Pop a blanket down and take some toys outside to play! As I said, sometimes all our little ones need is a change of scenery to ignite that spark for playing, and what better way than to head outside on a sunny day. You can also try this with some books and cushions if your little one is an avid reader, or maybe try taking lunch outside to have a picnic at home!

Build a Block Tower

Another way we can spark play for our little ones is to set up a simple invitation to play for them to discover. But remember, we don’t want to spend AGES setting these up – firstly, chances are if you’re reading this blog, you’re looking for quick ideas #AmIRIght? And secondly, because it can be super frustrating to spend all this time setting up an extravagant activity for our little one to spend less than 60 seconds playing (and yes, I speak from experience!! Ha!)

This idea can be tweaked for different ages and abilities, and is really open-ended which means that there’s no real wrong way to play, which is great for our little ones!

What you need:

  • A small basket or container with Duplo or other blocks
  • A Duplo base

How to play:

On the base, start building some coloured towers with the blocks (eg one red tower, one blue, one green). Pop the basket with the remainder of the Duplo blocks next to the base for your little one to find. They may continue the towers by matching the colours, or they may not. You might find they build some towers just to know them down, they might use the towers as a starting point to build a house for animal or people figurines you have nearby, or they may take their play in a completely different direction all together! It doesn’t really matter *HOW* they use the blocks – remember this is just an invitation to play how *they* want! Or maybe, they aren’t really interested at all – and again, that is okay – especially because we’ve only spent a minute or two setting this up, not all morning, so it won’t seem like a complete waste of time!

Duck Pond Sensory Play

I said earlier that I’d be sharing some of Harrison’s favourite play ideas, and it wouldn’t be complete without an activity with ducks! Harrison is proper obsessed with ducks (‘duck’ was one of his first words – wayyyy before he said ‘mum’ haha) and we even had a duck themed second birthday for him a couple of weeks back. So I know that if I pull out some ducks and add some water, Harrison will be one happy boy, and he’ll be kept busy for AGES.

But if you don’t have a million rubber ducks around home like we do, this activity can be used with any bath toys you’ve got for your little one!

What you need:

  • Large container or bowl
  • Blue food colouring (optional)
  • Rubber ducks (or any bath toys)

How to play:

Fill the container with water and add a few drops of blue food colouring to make the pond. Add some rubber ducks and some spoons or measuring cups so your little one can explore ‘catching’ them. You can even act out the song ‘Five Little Ducks’ if you have enough ducks!

As I said before, if you don’t have rubber ducks, not to worry! Any bath toys will work with the addition of water, and just like when we take an inside toy outside to spark play, bringing a bath toy out of the bathroom for play can have the same affect!

So there we have it, five super quick and easy ideas play ideas that you can keep up your sleeve for when you have no time and need something to keep your little ones entertained! I’d love to know which activity that you’re going to try first!

And if you are after more simple ideas to kick start your little one’s play, you can download my free SPARK PLAY ebook and get over 40 play ideas that embrace simple play, using items you’ve already got at home, that take you less time to set up and result in more engaged play!

Happy playing!

Lycie x

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