Protecting play: Low resource ideas for supporting play during lockdown by Rachel Murray
The coronavirus lock-down has meant life has changed dramatically for children and simple everyday activities present new challenges. If children are to thrive, as well as making sure our children feel safe and are well looked after, we also need to allow play to continue. In supporting children’s play, we need to ensure as much freedom of choice as possible for children.
In normal times these freedoms include where and when they play, who they play with, and how they play. During lockdown, many of these choices have been lost or greatly restricted, as playgrounds are locked, friends remain at home and schools are largely closed. Parents, carers and children find themselves in new and unexpected circumstances. However, what has not changed is that play remains vital for children’s physical and mental health. It is still important that we try and protect children’s choices and let them play and be playful during this challenging period.
We appreciate that different families are facing different issues at this time. Here are some low resource ideas to help support children’s play during lockdown. We hope there will be something of use to you, or that they may spark a play memory or an idea that you can make your own.
Top tip – Use what you have
Don’t be put off by Facebook posts of parents building entire wooden playhouses, of greenhouses full of perfect seedlings or 8 tier rainbow cakes with extra sprinkles! Work with the skills and interests of your own family. Use what you have in your house and within your means. Play does not have to be expensive – pots, pans, cushions, blankets, dried pasta and rice, felt-tips, recycled plastic bottles, clothes pegs, paper and washing up liquid are all great play items.
Classic party and playground games –
no resources needed
There are a reason that some games persist through the years and can be classified as ‘oldies but goodies’. Here are some simple playground and party games that require no resources and can be played in or outdoors.
games – Granny’s footsteps, What’s the time Mr. Wolf?
Hiding games – Hide n Seek, Sardines. If you’re short on space, hide a toy.
Clapping patterns and songs – pat a cake, See See my darling, A sailor went to sea, sea, sea. You might know some others. Some have nonsense or cheeky lyrics! Make up your own! The British Library have more info here: http://www.bl.uk/playtimes/videos/an-intoduction-to-clapping-games
Rock-paper-scissors (or the more complicated Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock!)
Guessing game classics – I spy, Charades, 20 questions
Low resource creative play
Den building – use blankets, cushions, pegs, sleeping bags. Find more ideas here: https://youtu.be/9tOyS3jrKS4
Junk modelling – use recycled materials to craft unique creations and contraptions. If your house can cope with a little overspill and creative mess, creations can be added to over a number of days.
Colouring, sketching, painting, printing – use what you have! Potatoes, fingers, feet, toilet rolls, brushes, feathers, Lego etc.
Loose parts art – nature inspired if you can play outdoors (search Andrew Goldsworthy or James Brunt for inspiration; think sticks, stones, daisies, dandelions, cherry blossom). Man-made loose parts could be Lego, cocktail sticks, buttons, dried pasta, rice of beans, whole spices, sequins or just small squares of paper.
Dressing up – it doesn’t need to be real costumes. Hats, ties, waistcoats, wigs, headbands – who are you going to be?
Put on a show! – dance, sing, play instruments, learn the Cups song or The GitUp dance, pretend to be Simon Cowell, hand up a sheet to make a pop-up puppet theatre!
Bubble play – washing up liquid and water will do. What makes a good bubble blower? Try out slatted spoons, sieves, flower pots, bend a paper clip, use a toilet roll tube. Or make a bubble-snake! – https://youtu.be/MJPCNaefZ4I
Low resource active play
Obstacle course – indoors or outdoors. How can you stay off the floor?
French Skipping – also known as Elastics. If you don’t have other people to play with, you can use chair legs to hold the elastic. Classic rhymes (England Ireland, Scotland Wales…), or make up a routine to a current tune.
Target challenge – ‘shooting hoops’. Use a soft ball or a rolled up (clean!) sock and chuck it at a bucket! Make up a points system, move the bucket further away or have several goals.
Hopscotch – use chalk to mark an outdoor course; masking tape works well on laminate floor and carpet.
Get outside for your daily exercise – if you can, get outdoors. Go for a walk, a scoot or a ride. Make your own ‘spotting lists’ or ‘treasure hunts’ before you go. Can you find a flying insect, a purple flower, a yellow car, a graffiti tag, a rainbow in a window?
Community supporting playful ideas
Draw a rainbow to display in your window. Mix it up – how about a rainbow Pokemon or a rainbow heart? How can you add your own creative twist?
Window wonder – use your windows to help entertain others! Hide teddies for a ‘Bear Hunt’, or eggs for an Easter egg hunt. What else would the children in your neighbourhood like to see? You could leave positive signs for friends that walk past your house or draw their favourite toys and TV characters.
Paint and hide rocks – use sharpies, paints, old nail varnish. Wash your hands before you paint. If you pick up a rock from outside, wash it for 20 seconds when you wash your hands.
Make some noise – if you take part in a ‘clap for support workers’ event, you can make your own shaker or musical instrument to make some noise!
Dig out old games
Is there anything you haven’t played with in a while? When was the last time you played Snap? Or did a jigsaw? Have you got an old console that you haven’t used for a while? Have you got any toys tucked away that haven’t been played with for ages?
Don’t worry, be silly!
Talk like a pirate day– ooh arr!Have a backwards day – clothes on backwards, walk backwards, pudding before dinnerLet someone else do your make-up, and wear it out on your daily exercise
Funky hair dos – let someone give you a funky hair style and wear it for the day
Swap clothes with someone in your family
Kitchen disco – turn the music up and dance, dance, dance
and don’t forget…….THE FLOOR IS LAVA!
Rachel Murray is a mentor for OPAL Outdoor Play and Learning
non-profit organization dedicated to improving play in schools