Thursday, 28 April 2016

5 Simple Ways To Encourage Undirected, Free Play

Get creative with old cardboard boxes!
I am a true believer of letting kids be kids. Lots of undirected, free play. I let the boys free play probably way too much. We free play in the morning, afternoon, night and even in the bath. Basically these boys just play!

I try to encourage more directed play and learning but Harvey is just not interested at the moment. Which causes me to worry a little bit as he starts school this September! But at least I know that when the boys are playing they are still learning and developing and I get to sit down to have a, 3rd time microwaved, coffee!

What Is Free Play?
It is when your little humans have independent play without instructions or rules. They make the decisions on what to do and direct themselves. Unlike sports or adult led activities where there are rules and structure.

What Are The Benefits?
Undirected, free play helps develop social skills. It teaches little humans how to make decisions and helps them learn to problem solve. Free play leads to exploration and discovery about the world. It keeps little human's minds and body active and healthy and builds confidence and self-esteem. Basically free play teaches the little humans to be well rounded big humans.

If you are interested in getting your little humans free playing, I have listed 4 simple ways to encourage child-led play. They are so easy you wont even know you are encouraging it! I didn't! I thought I was just being lazy... no wait, I am lazy and something good has come out of it! :D

1. Arts And Crafts
There are so many ideas out there for crafty play. I have a box random bits and pieces of crafty stuff. A lot of it from Poundland. Full of paper, glue, stamps, ribbon, child safe scissors, stickers and whatever other crap I can find. And I have other organised boxes with things like stamps, paints and pencils. Heck I have a cupboard full of this crap! I mean crafts.

Creative free play
2. Creative Toys
And by creative I mean open-end toys. Toys that need the little humans to use their imaginations to bring them to life. Like building blocks and dressing up clothes. By far the favourite open-ended toys are Legos and Magna-Tiles these let the boys build, create and use their imagination.

Magna-Tiles are a great open-ended toy for little builders
Magnet books. Another great free play toy
Our new favourite toy
3. Free Space
And if you have the luxury of space. Create an organised playroom where your kiddos can play and explore. We have a little play area in the kitchen. Set up with a selection of toys. The boys are free to play here. Well they play anywhere really. This was my feeble atempt at trying to keep the toys in one area. Most days it feels like our house is just one giant play room. Most of their toys are now in their room where they can also play. It is good to have different spaces for them to move around.

4. Get Outside
We love the park. This is where they can interact with other children. Make up their own games and role play. We take out sand buckets and spades for sandpits, magnifying glass and torches for mini adventures when walking to the park. And apparently climbing trees is a good thing too! Not that the boys have mastered that yet.

Create your own sandpit with a large storage container that you can put away
5. Follow Their Lead
When your little human wants you to play with them, let them lead. No matter how boring or uninterested you are! :D Sometimes the boys would ask me to make something for them like a boat or rocket or our lastest creation was an ice cream cart. This is a great excuse to get the old cardboard boxes out and let YOUR creative side come out!

Play helps our little humans learn about the world. To make decisions, solve problems. But remember for younger humans - there should always be an adult around to supervise if things get out of hand.

For more ideas on free play please check out my pinterest board and don't forget to pin this post!

Create your own sandpit with a large storage container that you can put away


  1. I love that you encourage free, undirected play. It helps the brain develop and anticipate stuff, without trying to figure it from the word go. I believe it helps in the development of skills, like you rightly mentioned.

    1. Aww thanks Jane! I love just listening to them play too. The things they come up with! hahaha xxx