• Brittany Caldwell

Updated: Sep 14

Now more than ever before I hear the question.. How can I get my children to play by themselves? The pressure of constantly entertaining children can wear on caretakers of all types. How can we engage children in meaningful ways, yet allow them to take the lead? I have a few tips and tricks to spark independent play in children. These tips and tricks are based around provoking rich play. Independent deep play provides endless benefits to children and can be crucial in development. When children partake in deep play adults around them can provide support by stepping back, observing, and reflecting on why the children are choosing these types of play. This practice can help you decide how to further provoke the independent play!

Take it Outside!

Taking play that normally happens inside, take it outdoors. What happens when you bring your favourite dress up items to the back yard? Move the play kitchen onto the patio! Changing the environment of where play typically happens can be inspiring for children. It can allow them to engage in different ways with materials and toys they already have. This will provoke a deeper form of play and allow you to step back.

Open Ended Materials.

Give your children a box, a milk carton, a set of cups, and some ping pong balls. What can they create? Toys and materials that have on purpose will cause children to tire of them quickly. Materials and toys that have endless possibility will inspire longer, deeper, and richer independent play.

Here is a simple list of things you likely already have to get you started.

  • cardboard boxes

  • paper towel/ wrapping paper tubing

  • marbles

  • popsicle sticks

  • clothes pins

  • washer/ nuts/ bolts

  • blocks

  • funnels

  • water/ sand

  • pots, pans, cups and other kitchen items

These materials will inspire play best with how your organize them which leads us to our next tip.

Arrange Visually Appealing Play Spaces.

How you present play materials can often inspire independent play. Try adding popsicle to the play-dough next time you pull it out. Arrange open ended materials in accessible baskets where children can see them versus stored away in containers that must be opened to discover their contents. Placing out dolls in combination with blocks on the carpet when you are looking to inspire independent play may encourage children to build block homes for the dolls. The key to these set ups is to arrange them in ways that are visually appealing. Using textures and beautiful materials will make the set ups more enticing to play. Check out our instagram @playcreativeseeds for examples of how to arrange materials in inviting ways. Then tag us to share your ideas!

Lead by Example

Lastly, if all else fails I often find leading by example can be an amazing way to inspire independent play. To spark play in programs I often find myself building a small tower of blocks. This often initiates the curiosity of my students and when they inquire what I am doing, I will invite them to join. Once they are engaged I will step away, and let them take the lead. When we play together I don't dictate their choices, or make requests. I simply play alongside them to inspire them, and then renounce myself to my observing spot and watch the play take off.

  • Brittany Caldwell

Updated: Sep 14

I have always loved to dance, moving was a way to release all the big feelings I experienced. I danced everywhere I went as a child, the grocery store, the kitchen, the backyard. Even the woods when would go camping as a family.

Dance and movement are often seen as indoor activities, they take place on a stage, in a studio, or at a gym. Yet children move everywhere they go. Turn on music and children flock to it, dance parties erupt with little care in the world. How can we as adults embrace this movement, and turn it into fun play opportunities for children?

3 tips to Inspiring Movement Outdoors.

Find Space:

Remember that feeling of seeing a huge open field as a child? Of just wanting to run, and cartwheel. Find an open space, a big path, or a sport field and embrace how the space inspires your children to move!

Add Moving Materials:

Loose fabric, ribbons, and scarves often dance in the wind and can be inspiring to play with. Adding these types of materials when your in a large space will encourage children to explore how they can make them move with their bodies. You can also add these materials to a family walk or hike to make things more interesting.

Embrace Sound:

Music makes children move! Even as infants, children are motivated to move when they hear music. Bring a portable speaker to a nearby field and run, jump, dance and see how the music moves you! or take it up a notch and make your own music. Using sticks, buckets and other materials can you bang some home made drums and encourage your children to move!

  • Brittany Caldwell

Updated: Sep 14

Winter, spring, summer, fall. This activity can elevate any season by combining science, art, nature, and messy play! Perfect for children under 10, this activity is simple, yet encourages meaningful and exciting exploration.

We had such a blast exploring how the colours mixed. We watched the paint cubes melt, experimented with water and ice, and some of us even tried using our sense of taste because our paint cubes were food safe!

Give it a try at home and share results on instagram with #creativeseedsprojects


  • Food colouring or Liquid Watercolour Paint

  • Watercolour Paper

  • Popsicle Sticks

  • Various Ice cube trays


  1. Mix various colours of paint or food colouring with water, and fill ice cube tray. Fill separate sections with assorted colours for more variety.

  2. Add popsicle sticks to each ice cube section.

  3. Freeze for 3-5 hours depending on the size of your ice cubes.

  4. Remove from freezer and enjoy painting!


  • Use food colouring if you want food safe ice cubes, use liquid watercolour if you want an easier clean up!

  • Use different sizes and shapes of ice cubes for variety in your painting

  • Dip ice-cubes in a cup of water to blend water colours better.

  • Enjoy this activity outside during any season for easiest clean up!

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