Advanced search

This topic is for paid for discussions. Please mail us at if you'd like to know more about how they work.

NOW CLOSED: Win a £100 Argos voucher by telling Chad Valley your tips for toddler play

(92 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 16-May-11 12:31:42

Chad Valley want to hear from you about how your toddler plays - in particular how you (or your child's carer) encourage imaginative play, and how you get them to play by themselves? Do they do role play (have you ever "heard" yourself through your child? or does a sibling get bossed around and told to be a certain character? grin) - what are their favourite games to play by themselves (maybe when they think you're not looking?!)?

Please share your top tips and stories on this thread - everyone who does will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will get a £100 Argos voucher.

We'll use a selection of your tips and stories on the Chad Valley pages on Mumsnet.

Many thanks

DoodleAlley Mon 16-May-11 12:45:46

Dont assume boys will role play like girls. My son aged two loves nothing more than sitting on a blanket pretending to be in a digger! Oh that and loading the washing machine with toys!!!!

I think the best way to encourage them to play on their own is to not always jump in and whilst not leaving them for ages alone, don't feel you always need to be immediately present.

llynnnn Mon 16-May-11 12:46:56

My dds (4.10 years and 23months) aren't the best at playing on their own, they really prefer an adult input. Although they are getting better now dd2 can join in/be bossed about by dd1. They enjoy playing animal hospitals with all their soft toys, a doctors set and millions of plasters and bandages! Dd2 spends a lot of time making pretend cups of tea and dinners for everyone.

I try to start their game off then leave them to it, they are getting better but I'll be watching this thread for lots of tips!

ouryve Mon 16-May-11 13:01:02

My boys are a bit older, now at 5 and 7, but both have ASD, so encouraging appropriate play has always been a big thing for us. DS1 actually never had any problem with imaginative play. So long as he had a supply of cars or trains and plenty of stuff to use for landscaping, he's been happy to play imaginatively. His Autism was completely missed by the HV when he was 19 months old and we were doing the CHAT because he was busy acting out crash scenes from Thomas the Tank Engine with a few engines and a pile of big lego!

DS2 has much more significant difficulties and is only just beginning to latch onto the idea of imaginative play. We have to model to him a lot. For example, he has lots of In The Night Garden character toys and in the past, I've made them dance along to their own rhymes on the TV show. He now makes them dance, himself, and even makes Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy kiss and hug - and has started to make other soft toys hug each other.

Bohica Mon 16-May-11 13:02:42

I will sometimes suggest a role play for DD & then leave her to it. DD likes to be the teacher (just started pre-school) & will lead her teddies to the carpet for story time.

I rotate her toys so we only have one bucket of toys out every couple of weeks & then leave toys she hasn't played with for a few weeks on her bedroom floor for her to find.

RAlover Mon 16-May-11 13:10:50

DS (3.5) is at present using old out of circulation european coins in postman pats truck, they are the parcels!!
He also likes making a shop from stuff in my cupboards and playing wth warm bubbly water in the sink, with cups, whiskd spoons etc.
We play alot of playdough together, making food, people etc.
I also spend quite alot of time pretending to be "ill" on the sofa whilst he sees how hot I am, and then gives me medicine.
I keep all the toys to hand, and go with whatever he wants to play with, the favourite at the moment is his Wallee robot, that he watches the film with ands has conversations with as if he is his friend!!

KvetaBarry Mon 16-May-11 13:24:02

DS is only 19 months, but if I give him access to a kitchen cupboard or a cardboard box, he will happily play for a few minutes on his own. He tends to mimic DH and I a lot now, so, for example, when I make the bed in the morning, he will immediately climb in to it, lie under the covers, and say 'go sleep now!' and pretend to sleep (oh, how I wish he would ACTUALLY sleep occasionally...). So now, we will often give him a smaller version of what we're doing to keep him involved - so a small saucepan when I'm cooking, and he will stand beside me 'mixing' in it with a spoon.

I have noticed he is really starting to interact with his toys now too - making car noises with toy cars, and woofing at his dogs.

The best way to get him to play by himself is to be too busy to play with him, sadly sad

BornToFolk Mon 16-May-11 13:29:40

DS (3.5) favourite game is shopkeepers. He had a till and lots of play food, but he'll play with anything, for example, he set up a train shop the other day with his trains, and will even just pretend to hand you things and take money.

I'm still working on getting him to play by himself as he's never been good at it. What seems to be working at the moment is not entirely leaving him to it, i.e. popping in and out and talking about what he's doing.

HazedandConfused Mon 16-May-11 13:37:27

DS has always (since barely talking) enjoyed "being" other people in his family or close contacts. This doesn't necessarily have to involve any props, though he would sometimes put on my hat or something to "be" me, and doesn't necessarily involve doing anything particular either - he seems to just like assigning the roles - he is mummy, I am the baby and the baby is daddy, or I am his friend and he is friend's granny. A variation is that we are all bees, or elephants, or whatever he is currently interested in.

Games he loves include being a doctor or fireman, or building things (especially complicated ones which need my help... which is probably part of the attraction).

The best way to get him to play on his own is often to play with him till he gets sick of me grin

JemAndTheHolograms Mon 16-May-11 13:43:48

Kids don't care about gender roles. My dd2 (4.7) loves playing with her kitchen, and also her tools she loves fixing the washing machine. She also loves her garage, and fire engine. Oh and my dd1 (who is 8 but was the same when she was younger) hates pink, with a passion.

craftynclothy Mon 16-May-11 13:48:38

Both of mine like to play on their own. They also like fighting over toys a lot hmm.

Dd1 likes to play with dolls and dogs atm. Dd2 is more into tea sets and building blocks. I think dd1 would like to boss dd2 around all the time but dd2 is having none of it grin. I definitely hear myself in dd1 when she's talking to dd2 (usually along the lines of "When I tell you not to do something that means you don't do it" blush).

Poor dh usually gets the job of playing "school" with dd1. Dd1 sits on the step stool we have and is the teacher (named after her own nursery teacher) and hold up imaginary phonics sound cards and dh has to tell her what sound it is (yes, from the imaginary card wink) and is inevitably wrong grin. Then they do "Pippin", which is the teacher giving one pupil the toy dog for the weekend...invariably going to dh. Dd1 gets a really strong Yorkshire accent when playing schools just like her teacher grin

When we have playdates dd1 likes dressing up but she's not so fussed about it when playing on her own/with me/with dh/with her sister.

They both like playing on the trampoline in the garden but the indoor one is mainly used for sleeping on confused

trice Mon 16-May-11 13:53:04

w8nky basket. seriously. the amount of play value in a wooden spoon amazes me.

DorisIsAPinkDragon Mon 16-May-11 13:57:28

DD3 (1) loves drilling she has a builders set and is not afraid to use it! She also likes "filing" put things (anything!) in boxes or pans and sorting.

Generally we have a blanket in the lounge which is a throw for the sofa, but I am regularly dragging it back from areas around the house where it has created a den a bed for the baby a picnic blanket etc etc. (DD1 is 5 and dd2 is 3)

Basically the girls use whatever they can reasonably get their hands on but babies and barbies are popular too.

WhipMeIndiana Mon 16-May-11 14:07:58

I have dd(4) and ds(2) They play individually a lot, but also together with a lot of bouncing/running/play-fighting.
I try to encourage imaginative play by speaking in character voices and accents a lot, imitating and mimicking tv characters and inventing voices for inanimate objects (for months I had to do the voice of our kitchen-deep south USA accent, and our lounge saying good morning to dd so she wasnt scared to come downstairs hmm )
We have loads of fancy dress, and use sticks in the garden as cutlasses when we play pirates. I want them to be able to use their imaginations, and to see how funny language can be, eg rhyming, making up songs and poems and stories. Im always asking my ds to tell me a story, he always talks about 2 cars crashing grin
He does say what I say - recently he bit his sister and when dh spoke to him he cried and said 'I'm only a baby' which is what Ive said in the past to excuse his bad behaviour.
They role play loads, they're always pouring each other cups of tea as me and daddy and recently they like being two of the three bears, they always make me be goldilocks for some reason.
They love lego and other building blocks to see who can make the biggest thing fastest, then we get them to explain what they've built, the detail is amazing...spaceships with extra banana carriers was yesterdays grin later we'll be making boats out of old marg tubs for some more pirate games.
I find being a mum much more rewarding now they can play in this way with me and together, as they really entertain each other and miss each other when alone.

LoonyRationalist Mon 16-May-11 14:14:09

Last week we had a full on birthday party for DD1's (age4.8) doll Lucy. She made invitations, decorated the room with banners, used leftover party plates cups etc. She then made & decorated a birthday cake, planned a birthday tea. Afterwards she insisted on printing the photos we took & taking them to show & tell at playgroup.

DD2 is 26 months & will spend all morning having tea parties, wrapping presents, "gardening"
They need some parental input but dd1 particularly only needs a little. I do hear my voice in her playing alot blushparticularly "if I have to tell you again"

I agree with those who have said you have to let them get on with it themselves, I find they mostly want to reenact scenes that adults in their lives do, DD1 loves to be the teacher & lead registration time where children sit in a circle, share things from home, discuss the day & the weather & choose a song & story. DD2 is a willing participant & actually knew the routine when she started pre-school from playing this with DD1!!

Honeydragon Mon 16-May-11 14:22:01

DS now 8 was always good a playing alone, as is dd 17m for short periods. Best toy to leave with them is assorted old parquet flooring tiles and offcuts. Ds still plays with them now and dd will also happily play with them for 15 minutes ALONE. grin

PrettyCandles Mon 16-May-11 14:35:09

I practice a pOlicy of Benign Neglect in order to encourage independent play. From earliest days I have allowed my dc to be bored. That way they learned to entertain themselves.

(I do also play with my dc as well!)

SilveryMoon Mon 16-May-11 14:43:39

My 2 boys (aged3yrs and 2yrs) can play nicely together on their own, but sometimes need some encouragement.
My eldest will often ask me to play with him, and this game is normally hide and seek. They haven't really got the hang of it yet as we all end up hiding with no one to find us!
They don't really role play, but they like playing with cars, trains, and other 'boy' things.
Sometimes when we are out walking, ds1 will say that he is Shrek, I am Fiona and ds2 is Donkey.
They do much prefer to pretend to be trains or planes and things like that, they don't really copy behaviour or actions that they see.

When they struggle to play, I do sit down with them and push cars around or build towers with lego/duplo etc and then slowly withdraw from them by telling them that I am having lots of fun playing, but in 5 minutes it will be time for me to do one of my jobs but then I will come back.
I will then go off and wash up/hoover/tidy and when that's done, I will go back to them to play.
I always ask if I can play too and if they say No, then I do something else.

jenniferturkington Mon 16-May-11 15:00:02

My ds (nearly 4) and dd (2.2) role play together a lot. They love playing with the toy kitchen but have to load it with real extras e.g. real pans, real money in the till, real tins of beans! Yes unfortuantely I do hear me in their games, ds to dd 'stay away from that it's hot...I SAID DON'T TOUCH' blush

Mine much prefer to role play than actually play with toy characters- 'Happy land' type toys, train tracks etc are redundant in this house. They do both enjoy 'doing' , such as lego and crafts though.

Gethsemane Mon 16-May-11 15:02:30

My 16 month old prefers it if I play with him, but that is not always possible (for example while I do the washing up). In order to help encourage him to play by himself I have put together a few things in each room; e.g. he has his own cupboard in the kitchen which contains safe but real household items such as empty containers, boxes, pots and bottles. He loves playing with these and will happily amuse himself while I get on with the chores. I think this probably helps his imagination too!

Bogglepodder Mon 16-May-11 15:05:55

My top tip for getting them to play by themselves is to have more children. More children = less attention from parents = more likely to learn to entertain themselves, with and without their siblings. That's how it worked in our family anyway.

They've all loved the toy kitchen and me being a customer in their cafe. If people are looking a bit bored I still sometimes say "Right, I'm hungythirsty who's going to get me drink/food/bring me a menu?" and off they rush.

Nemoandthefishes Mon 16-May-11 16:01:49

DD3[nearly 2] love to play anything with animals in so she can make the noises. Can keep her entertained for hours with a small tub of animals. She also loves bubbles, cheap,easy and effective wherever you are. However must say her best toy is her older siblings who are 4,5 and 7. Between the four of them they will play for hours and hours sometimes being bossed around and sometimes with her telling the others what to do!!

whomovedmychocolate Mon 16-May-11 16:26:08

DD (4) bosses DS (2) around a lot. They seem to have very convoluted scenarios around being a doctor/patient, trains, fairies and tea parties. The best fun they have is when you stick a sheet over some furniture to make a 'den'.

They have just started to involve the cat in their games. Luckily this cat has a good sense of humour and will tolerate being put to bed (under the covers) because 'he looks a bit ill' but it's only a matter of time before they try and give him an enema I'm sure hmm

skyberry Mon 16-May-11 16:40:12

My toddler likes nothing more than to copy what i'm doing. For emample if i'm hovering he has to get his old walker, push it behind me and make hoover noises. He also likes to help me with tasks such as loading the washing machine.
Another favourite game is when I give him a cardboard box full of interesting objects such as smaller boxes, empty loo roll, wooden spoons etc. This could turn into a shop game or the box and spoon could be a drum or everything just gets squashed and ripped apart. But seriously it always keeps him amused for ages.

5GoMadOnAZ650 Mon 16-May-11 16:45:03

DD3 (3) & DD4 (2) are very good at being left to play and just get on with it whilst I do housework, their favourite game at the moment is "mummy and sweethearts" which has to be voiced in a fantastic American drawl. Dd3 is usually mummy and dd4 and Ruby our Staffordshire bull terrier are usually sweethearts, the game mainly consists of a lot of ordering about by dd3, hugging and kissing and clumping about in plastic high heels. It's about the farthest removed from how I act and parent as possible, I'm neither American and I walk like Dick Emery in heels grin

Mornings in our house after the school run are always the time for play for the dd's whilst I tidy up and get on, most days they play in the back garden with their Wendy house, prams and bikes, even if the weather is inclement they will play out and I love seeing them play out in the fresh air and really romping about.

Other games which are guaranteed success in this house are making dens on the trampoline with old sheets and curtains, paintbrushes and water and painting on the patio slabs with water then watching it magically disappear as it dries, using the water butt to fill watering cans and then watering anything that doesn't move quick enough.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: