So who doesn’t love playtime and play dates?  We were invited to play along side of Mr. Potato Head at the Playskool Play Date in Philly a couple weeks ago.  Victoria had plenty of interactive fun as she explored some awesome summer playtime toys.  While this event was geared for the younger crowd, it is important to recognize the opportunities hidden in family play time for older learning fun.  Here’s an example… if your older child is taking instrument lessons, get the most out of the practices and instrument rentals by putting on a family show.  A good toy to help bridge the gap is the Sesame Take-Along Band Set by Playskool that we got to check out at our Playskool Play Date.

Incorporating your little ones’ playtime activities with your older child(ren) is particularly challenging during the summer when everyone is home together.  An effective way to use this to your advantage is to set up 20 minute sessions whereas your older child is facilitating an activity… preferably a learning activity.  Here are five suggestions:

1. Story Brainstorming – your older child asks the younger ones for suggestions in telling a story.  These ideas come together for a storyboard, play or puppet show.

2. Creative Building – little ones often just make tall towers of blocks for the sole purpose of knocking over.  Have your older children build more detailed structures (flat to lessen the likelihood of knocked over creations) and offer their younger siblings cars or people to travel paths between buildings or inside walls.  (Be sure to let the older kids know that this activity will require extra patience on their part!!)

3. Themed Toys – here’s an easy one.  Let’s use dinosaurs as an example and let’s say you take a couple days to really get into dinosaurs with your loved ones.  Maybe it was a movie or trip to Academy of Natural Sciences Museum that got you excited, but how to engage the tots on the same topic?  Toys. Seriously, it is that easy.  Not all learning has to be hard-core facts. Allow the free play between the children and watch what pieces of knowledge coming flying out… facts you didn’t even know they comprehended much less retained for playtime and sharing with smaller siblings.  The toys themselves don’t have to be museum shop specialties… in fact the Mr. Potato Head you see in our video below is great for this purpose.

4. Creative Crafts – Most children enjoy getting messy and what better way than through art.  When you recruit your older kids to help with the younger ones… it gives them a sense of purpose while participating in the activity.  Shark Week is a fun summertime theme, so let’s use this as our example.  While everyone is engaging in a simple shark craft, drop bits of information as you go.  Once the activity is completed for the younger ones, have the old child(ren) take those crafts to incorporate into a larger more detailed project.  Email me for specific ideas but think big or better yet… have your older kids think of the bigger project.

5. Scavenger Hunt – Everyone loves a good hunt.  Have your bigger kids create an easy tot find game, while you create some big-kid alternatives.  Everyone hunts together and discovers together.

While the summer can present its challenges, it also affords many opportunities. I hope these suggestions are helpful and would love to hear of any suggestions you have for bringing little ones and older ones together for learning fun.

This is a sponsored post, whereby we were either compensated or given products for review. The ideas and suggestions herein are strictly my own.