Fun Ways To Encourage Free Play With An Older Child


How do you help foster play and creativity in your child? Here are some easy activities.

With all the articles about the importance of free play in the lives of our children you may be wondering how to encourage it in your home. Here are some of the best ways to encourage free play in your life with your pre-schooler and school age child, plus a few ways to be a good example by incorporating play into your day.

1) Make a fort. Make two forts! Inhabit them with stuffed animals and whoever else is around. Make up stories about who lives in the forts and what they are doing.
2) Make big paintings. This can be as easy as rolling out craft paper on the floor, putting on an old t-shirt for a smock, some brushes and paints and going to town. Cut up sponges and fingers are also great as substitute brushes. Display the results. Wonder together if there is a story or a song or dance that goes with the drawing.
3) Be a band. Make instruments from old cans, combs, whatever you have.
4) Get more ideas on how to use music with your toddler at

School Aged Children
1) Take a doodle break together. Get out a pad of paper and each person can start on one end. You can experiment with working within rules. For example: “ Today we are only going to doodle in circles” or “Today no lines can cross.”
2) Create a story together. You start and then “pass” the story on to your child, they add something and then “pass” it back. For example: “Once upon a time there was a purple lizard named Rufus. He lived under the pillow in an old house by a stream. One day… (signal “pass” to your child and they take up the story until they “pass” it back to you).
3) Do a happy dance. When your child comes home, when you are happy or proud or when you just need to be happy. See who can come up with the best “happy dance.”

For Yourself- Be a good example!
1) Find something small that you can do every day. Perhaps it is doodling for a few minutes each morning or to relax at night. You will be surprised what ideas come into your head when you are “just playing.”
2) Store dance. If you are in line and feeling stressed out. Sway to the music, pick your child up and break into a little jig. I knew my husband was the one for me when he invited me to dance to the musak in a department store.
3) Knit, sew, craft, build! Anytime you enter into the creative process you improve your sense of play.
Allow your life to be playful. Your children will love you for it.

Amy Robbins-Wilson, MA is a Musical Parenting Expert and Healing Music Artist. She is the award winning author of Transformational Mothering and the creator of the Mommy Jingles program. Sign up for your free Musical Parenting Video Tips at Learn more about Amy and her work at and on Facebook.