This is a guest post from Lea Schneider.
On rainy days, the words “just go play” don’t seem to dispel boredom. Despite a slew of toys, little ones don’t seem to know what to do with themselves. On the bright side, a dreary day is perfect for introducing your child to some fun imaginative play and figuring out how to expend energy indoors.
When I help parents organize a playroom or play area, I’ll often steer them toward a play mat. Since kids gravitate toward floor play, a rug is a key ingredient in a playroom. You might as well take advantage of floor space by using your rug for activities.
Plopping down and playing with your child for a bit has numerous advantages. Besides the great one-on-one time you get, you’ll be able to introduce them to imaginary concepts they can repeat when they play on their own. Here are five ideas to start.
1. Tell Me a Story
I love a rug with a lot going on. Think of it as a storytelling rug. With a highway, a parking lot, a train track, and a police station in the mix, it’s easy to get creative. Gather up some toys: cars, trucks, trains, small action figures, and even fun items like toy dinosaurs. Set them around the outside of the rug. Choose one and create a story opening to go with it.
For example, as you choose a sports car, place it on the highway and say, “One day, I was in my racecar driving down the highway and something exciting happened!”
Next, invite your child to choose a toy and add to the story. They might choose a dinosaur and say, “A dinosaur was sitting in the road.” And so the story continues as the dinosaur jumps into a truck and a police chase takes place. The ideas are endless!
2. Build Your City
With a rug that places city highways or country roads at your feet, your budding architect can create skyscrapers or villages and use small cars to move between them.
Create buildings using all kinds of materials. Building toys, such as Legos or blocks, can be brought into play. Or, if you like to go green and recycle, you can put cardboard packages and boxes to use. Cereal boxes can be cut along the seam and taped so the plain side is facing outward. A tall cereal box is a perfect skyscraper when your child draws rows of windows and you cut a door. Boxes of all sizes can be used and stacked into a cityscape. Paper towel or wrapping paper tubes can become tunnels.
3. Indoor Hopscotch
An alphabet rug is perfect for a variation on the hopscotch game. Children will enjoy burning off energy as they hop from letter to letter. Have them spell out their name in hops. Sing the alphabet song as they hop along. Hold up various toys and have them say what letter that toy begins with and hop to that letter. For older kids, use it for an active version of a spelling bee. Have them move from letter to letter as they spell.
4. Count on Fun
For young children, using rugs with numbers is a fun way to learn. Count to 10 by hopping along the numbers. Let them find their age.
Break out some flash cards or use some small toys or beads for counting. Have them count the number of items and then find the number on the floor. For flash cards, from adding to multiplication, allow them to hop out the problem by moving from number to number.
5. Take a Trip
A map rug brings lots of opportunity for indoor adventure. Pack a snack for your pretend camping trip. Use a beanbag to toss onto the rug to find out where you are going camping.
Talk about what you would see along the way. Use the rug to track a course from where you live to your vacation camping spot. You can tie this fun into a lesson about each spot. Use online resources to find children’s activities that correspond to the state or country you’re “camping” in. Pitch a tent made of sheets and camp out. Enjoy your snack.
You can also use the rug for storytelling and teaching your child about places you used to live or where their grandparents and relatives live.
You’ll find as you introduce these imaginative floor games to your child, they will soon be playing them with their siblings, cousins, and friends. It’s one more way to grow their imagination.
Lea Schneider is a mom, and professional organizational expert, who writes for families that want to organize their homes in an efficient way. Lea blends her home-organizing talents with décor ideas, and writes on both for The Home Depot. You can research ideas on rug materials and styles by viewing the Guide to a Perfect Rug on Home Depot’s Home Decorators’ website here, and view a wide selection of area rugs on this page.