It's winter or autumn and it's dreary outside. You have spent the whole day indoors. Or you've been outside, but your child is still full of energy, running around aimlessly or bouncing loudly on the sofa. You have run out of ideas. It is still full of energy and only movement or sensory activities arouse its interest and attention. You would love to take it to the playground, to slide, swing or jump. But out there it's grey and rainy or dark, wet and cold. You want to avoid the "lazy babysitter" by turning on the TV or calming your child with an iPad. But you want it to calm down, to stop running or whining, and to engage in interactive play. So what can you do?

I want to show you a simple solution that leads to quality physical and interactive play, is easy to set up and store, costs very little and gives you endless opportunities to have fun with your child. It will help you

  1. Emotionally entice your child into fun physical and interactive games because they will need your help to 'work'.
  2. Play fun movement games with your child that make him come back to you again and again
  3. Promote meaningful communication, as 'active doing' supports language development and thinking
  4. Create opportunities for complex social problem solving, motor planning and sequencing.
  5. Stimulate together new ideas and imaginative games that are regulative and sensory or symbolic so-do-as-if games.
  6. to experience something that he can talk about, that he can tell dad or grandma. Maybe later you can draw a picture together that he can use to show on the next rainy day that he wants to repeat these games.

What is it? And where can you get it?

It is a board or a long piece of wood. Is there perhaps a board that can be temporarily freed from its function as a shelf? You can also buy a board or a long piece of wood at your local hardware or home improvement store.

Add a few sofa cushions or pillows, a few books or bricks and your board is ready for your indoor gym and will be

  • A slide
  • a balance beam
  • a seesaw
  • a "river" to jump over
  • a bridge on which cars or a train can travel
  • a house or a tent when placed over the seats of 2 chairs and a sheet draped over them
  • etc.

The ideal dimensions are 150 cm long and 30 cm wide, and of course it must be completely smooth, without sharp corners and edges. Cushions or pads on the floor may be necessary.

After your child uses up their pent-up energy sliding and having fun with simple physical activity, they will be tired, content and much calmer. And then you will both be ready to sit down for some welcome quiet time.


Cover image from: Entertaining and Educating your Pre-school Child - An Usborne Guide 1993


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