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Fed up of pumpkins and Halloween as the only play ideas during Autumn?

Little Ones: bodies are cool       Little Ones: felt stars         Little Ones: nature inspired open ended play kit          Little Ones: knitting fork     

Try these 10 play prompt suggestions

  1. National space week – ok so we know we have missed the date for this one but still a great play theme. Plus when the clocks change get outside and do a bit of star gazing.
  2. Learn a new skill – grab a hot chocolate and snuggle by a cosy fire and try our new knitting forks or braiding stars
  3. Harvest festival  – get that play food out and create harvest baskets
  4. 21st October is national apple day – eat them, draw them, practice life skill by cutting them up or maybe hammering golf tees into them
  5. 24th October – United National Day – celebrate diversity with a new book or colour me crayons. 
  6. 13th November – Diwali try using out Kitpas crayons to celebrate the festival of light by drawing on the windows or making a tea light holder using a jam jar.
  7. 13th November – World Kindness Day – what lovely thing can you do today?
  8. 20th November – Universal Children’s Day, could you find out about what children do in different countries, this years theme is inclusion.
  9. An oldie but a goodie – head out for a nature walk and collect natural loose parts, maybe sticks or pinecones. Then you can add them to a sensory base and do some counting or maybe you could add them to sensory dough to create an autumn inspire model.
  10. Decorate some leaves or conkers – paint or Kitpas crayons work really well for this.

Childhood is a magical time filled with wonder, curiosity and a rollercoaster of emotions. As the new school year begins its completely normal for children’s emotions to become heighted – I am currently experiencing this with my four year old, so when I say I get it, I really do. This led me to think it would be useful to share some practical tips and ideas to help navigate these potentially tricky times.

Firstly if we take a moment to step back and really think about what our tiny people’s brains are going through and the potentially massive changes they are experiencing we can start to discover what emotions are driving behaviour.

So let me share some of my top play ideas to help with childhood emotions.


Books, books and more books

One of the best places to start exploring emotions and feelings with little ones is though books – by reading about feeling it shows them that it’s ok to feel the way they feel, this validates them and allows them to explore these ideas in a safe space.

Some of the books I recommend are:

Invisible – Tom Percival

Ruby’s Worry, Ravi’s Roar, Tilda Tries again, Meesha Makes friends – Tom Percival

Tough guys have feelings too – Keith Negley

The Colour Monster and The Colour Monster goes to school – Anna Llenas

Big Feeling – Alexandra Penfold


Emotion Charades: Express and Guess

Start a fun game of game of emotion charades where you and your child make various facial expressions based of different emotions and then you try and guess which one you are acting out. Imagine stamping around with a really cross face, hello anger.

This can always lead onto a deeper conversation about when you or your child have felt those emotions and what you did (good or bad) to deal with that feeling.


Daily Emotions Face

Draw a face on your little one’s bedroom window or a mirror using our Kitpas crayons and ask them each morning to filling in the features, sharing how they are feeling. You could then check back in before bedtime and see if their feeling and emotions are different come the end of the day.

A lovely consequence of this activity is that the kitpas crayons wash off with water, so after a bad day you can simple wipe away that feeling knowing you get to start tomorrow fresh.


Emotion Yoga Adventure

Getting your little one to move their bodies really helps them to deal with the big feelings when they come. Gross motor skills, like climbing, jumping, yoga, dancing fire up sensors in our body which sends signals to the brain which have a calming effect, helping your child to self-regulate.

You could introduce your little one to yoga poses that reflect various emotions. For example, the “joy” pose could involve reaching for the sky, while the “calm” pose could be a seated meditation. Guide them through a yoga adventure where they mimic different emotions through poses, promoting body awareness and relaxation techniques. I know mine love to copy to poses from ABC of yoga book.


Emotion Treasure Hunt

Hide different objects or images representing different emotions around the house. Perhaps it could be something red for anger or a picture of a green monster for jealousy. You could either provide children with a list of emotions and have them search for the hidden items or simply ask them to find something that makes them think of a certain emotion. As they find each item, encourage them to discuss times they felt that emotion and why.


Small World Play

Create a small world scene using your child’s favourite things whether that’s peg dolls, TV characters or vehicles and encouraging them to play out any times they have felt a strong emotion will allow a child to process their feeling in a safe way. For example, you could say ‘Mr Skelton is feeling really angry right now, he wants to hit something, what do you think we should say to him?” This role-playing activity helps children process their own feelings and learn about different ways to cope.

Feeling-Focused Art

Set up an art station, using either sensory dough and loose part or draw some face shapes and allow your child to fill in the emotion. You could ask questions like “draw how you feel when you’re excited” or “Mould a face that shows happiness”


Play is the most natural form of learning therefore it’s the perfect way for children to learn about feelings and emotions. By offering the opportunity to explore these through play we are providing a nurturing environment where children can feel supported and safe, plus they get to have fun too.

6 top tips for imaginative, creative and curious play at home

Perhaps you’ve read our previous blog ‘what is open ended play’ or just want to elevate your at home play sessions, we’re here to help. We have complied a tried and tested list of our top tips for creating the conditions to help your child play creatively, independently and learn loads in the process. But before we give you the top tips I want  to say well done to you – you are doing a great job already, simply by reading this blog you are making positive changes in your playful journey. Take it at your pace and try and enjoy it.

                                                                                                      Two children playing with wooden cubes and balls                 Little girl stacking wooden shapes          Giant den clip being used with wooden balls

Our 6 top tips for great play

  1. There will probably be mess, that’s natural and normal, so make sure you choose a time and location which works for your. Setting up soil and water in a cream living room before you’re about to go out probably isn’t going to be the best conditions for a great open ended play session. It’s ok to choose a time and place that works for you.

    Little ones: open ended play example

  2. That sort of leads onto tip number two, try not to interfere. Once the little one is into the flow of playing take a step back, have a cup of tea (but do stay close, see point 3), read a book. By not offering suggestions of what might happen next, or adding new items into the play we let the child take the lead and follow their own thought processes. I have on occasion found myself sitting without saying anything for 15 minutes or so whilst my littlies are absorbed in their own worlds – it’s magic!
  3. Open ended play often works best when the child starts the play themselves, By this I mean, you may have set some bits up (perhaps playdough and loose parts, or  cars and some planks of wood) but let the child find this invitation to play in their own time. I have rarely found a great open ended play session come about if I have suggested what my two could play with.

    Little Ones: open ended play, play set up Little Ones: open ended farm play

  4. Open ended play does not mean ‘alone play’. Children need us to be present during this play but not necessarily involved. Although if invited to join in go for it and enjoy but still let the child lead the play.
  5. Sometimes it doesn’t work and that is absolutely fine. We all have off days and children are no exception, maybe today they want a fixed goal (completing a puzzle for example). Or the invitation to play doesn’t spark their interest at the time. Try not to worry, move on and try again another day.
  6. Get outside. Simply by its nature the great outdoors offers so many open ended play opportunities, think forests (how many different things can the humble stick be), sand or your garden.

                                             Little Ones: example of outside play     Little Ones: example of outside play on a beach
A few of our favourite toys and resources for open ended play

  • Sand, soil , waterLittle Ones: den being made with
  • Carboard boxes
  • Cubes, bricks and balls
  • bowls, containers (plant pots, plastic of wooden dishes, sorting trays)
  • Small world  items- trees, fences, sticks, vehicles
  • Sensory dough and sensory bases
  • Loose parts (wooden shapes, straws, leaves, flowers, bottle tops – the list is endless)
  • Peg people and animals
  • Real life objects – clean nappies, water spray bottles, teapots, old laptops, phone

Hopefully you are now bursting with ideas, a willingness to play and are ready to dive into the truly magic world of open ended play.

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