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Fun Play Time Ideas For Young Children

I’m a nanny for two little ones (an almost 4 year old boy, and his 1 year old sister), and a mom to Moriah who is just about 2 years old.  We spend our days together playing and enjoying a variety of fun that is also enriching, I hope!  I find most of my inspiration these days from Pinterest, making any helpful adjustments to fit our needs.  I try to think ahead and plan for a few creative play activities each week.  Sometimes they all work out, and other times they don’t.  Little ones really don’t mind, especially if they’re able to help along the way!  These are a few of our favorite recent creative play times. Enjoy!

Laura’s Creative Play Ideas 

Make Your Own Slime

(worked well with oldest two children, while the 1 year old napped)make your own slime toddler playing

This was a very easy recipe, just combine in a bowl –

  • 1 ½ cups of liquid starch
  • 1 ½ cups of clear school glue (about 2 ½ bottles)
  • food coloring as desired (only a few drops!)

I found the STA-FLO brand of liquid starch at my Neighborhood Wal-Mart for about $3, and the clear Elmer’s School Glue at JoAnn’s or Kroger for about $2.  As you play, squeeze, and stretch your slime it will become more like Silly Putty and less like goo. 

We’ve preserved our slime in an airtight plastic storage container, and one week later it still has plenty of life!

Clean Finger Painting

clean finger paint plastic bag on window

(all three children enjoyed this)

Fill a Ziplock baggie with finger paint or poster paint.

Adding two colors allows little ones to enjoy mixing colors as well.
Secure the baggie with tape to ensure it is fully sealed. (I often reinforce corners and sides as well!)

Using tape attach the baggie to a large window or sliding glass door at toddler level allowing your child to “draw” in the paint with their fingers.  (It’s helpful for you to show your toddler how to draw or to hold one of their fingers and help them at first.)

The sunlight shining through the paint in the baggie makes this especially interesting to young children.


Shaving Cream Play

(fun with oldest two children, again during the 1 year old’s nap)shaving cream on cookie tray play idea for kids

Simply squirt shaving cream on a cookie sheet and allow your child (wearing a smock, or without a shirt, perhaps outside) to feel, squeeze, and play!  Older children can be encouraged to “write” in shaving cream and may even like to practice writing letters or spelling words.  Younger children will enjoy the sensory play, but must be closely watched, as shaving cream should not be tasted!  I’ve purchased store brand sensitive skin men’s shaving cream and have used it without any problems since my skin is a little sensitive and sometimes I get acne dark spots so I need to go online to find a solution for this.


Colorful Fizzing Science

backing soda vinegar color fizzy play time with kids(best for oldest child, three at the time)

  • Spread dry baking soda in a baking dish, covering the bottom of your pan.
  • Mix vinegar with food coloring in small bowls.
  • Help your toddler use an eye dropper to suction colored vinegar and drop it onto baking soda, producing colorful fizz! 

This creative play activity also enhances your child’s fine motor skills and he or she practices squeezing and releasing the eye dropper.  If you have a young child in the house, save the tiny medicine droppers from gas drops, infant Tylenol, etc. to use with this and other future activities.

Water Bead Night Light

(best with my three, almost four year old friend)

Look for water beads at your local hobby store, or on-line.
(Water beads are intended for florists to use as they store water and hydrate flowers over time,water bead night light for kids they also happen to be fun for children as they offer an opportunity for sensory play with their interesting texture!)

Find thin bracelet-like glow sticks, often available at Target in the $1 section.

Soak water beads in water as directed, allowing them to swell to capacity.

Fill a Mason jar with glow sticks and water beads, in layers to allow for a night light “glow”.

lauraslouisvillelifeAbout the Author

Laura is a former teacher turned nanny with one daughter who will be two in August.  She enjoys caring for three little ones during her days, hoping to develop activities which engage and educate children through play.  Laura blogs about her life as a Christian mom, seminary wife, and nanny at

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