Play is All Around Us: Using Household Goods to Expand the Fun

Kids, especially babies and toddlers, love to explore everyday items. In fact, they may even prefer household items over toys at certain developmental phases! How can you include home goods in their play rotation, encouraging them to be creative, use their imaginations, and explore their surroundings in new ways? We’re excited to offer 50 ideas, broken down by area of the house, to help you out below!

Living Room Fun

  1. Throw the couch cushions on the ground and pretend the floor is lava! Jump from cushion to cushion for a super exciting adventure.
  2. Have a color hunt! Lay a piece of blue paper on the ground and have your child look around and collect all blue items from the living room (or another color that your space has plenty of).
  3. Spend some time taking care of your house plants (if you have them). Water the plants, dust their leaves, clip brown pieces, etc. It may not seem like play at first, but your child’s curiosity is sure to be engaged.
  4. Play “hide and seek” with a small item. Set it inside of the entertainment center cupboard, in desk drawers, under the couch, behind picture frames, behind curtains, etc.
  5. Have a dance party with music on the living room speaker.

Bedroom Boredom Busters

  1. Head into the closet and play dress-up with mom’s, dad’s, or a sibling’s wardrobe.
  2. Get fancy with make-up or jewelry if you have a kid-safe collection.
  3. Set pillows on the ground for another game of “the floor is lava.”
  4. Have an old-fashioned pillow fight!
  5. Build an epic blanket fort and bring a snack or board game inside to play.
  6. Play “matching” with socks from the clean laundry basket!
  7. Turn up the music and jump on the bed (if your space is safe to do so and your child is big enough)!
  8. Play “hide and go seek.” Bedrooms are fun with closets, under the bed spaces, blankets, and more to hide in. Plus, they’re confined to make the game go by faster.
  9. Have a gunny sack race with pillowcases.
  10. Pretend a small blanket is a “magic carpet” and spend some time “flying over the world.”

Kitchen Creativity

  1. Grab your leftover containers and match the lids (or practice opening and closing). Set small toys inside to find for added fun!
  2. Bang on the bottoms of pots and pans with wooden spoons.
  3. Fill glasses with varying amounts of water and tap the rims with metal spoons. How do the water levels affect the sounds?
  4. Create a sensory play experience in the kitchen sink with dish soap bubbles, cooking utensils, a strainer, and measuring cups.
  5. Hop right in the kitchen sink for a creative, and fun, bath!
  6. Learn to chop fruits and veggies with mom or dad (at a safe age and with safe tools).
  7. Practice pouring with a variety of containers.
  8. Stick fridge magnets on a baking sheet for a new experience.
  9. Put baking soda in a muffin tin and add drops of vinegar. Food coloring is a fun addition, too!
  10. Wash empty yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, etc. containers and place dry beans, rice, or cereal inside for shakable instruments.
  11. Fill your salad spinner with paint and a sheet of paper for a contained splatter experience.
  12. Make puppets from paper bags.
  13. Paint ice cubes for a fun sensory experience.
  14. Place dried beans or rice, small cups, and scoops in a plastic storage bin for sensory exploration.
  15. Sort fruits or veggies by color, shape, or size.

Bathroom Exploration

  1. Explore reflections! Grab a bathroom mirror and try to catch the sunlight. See how you can reflect the rays onto other surfaces, across more handheld mirrors, etc.
  2. Hold your personal mirror just under your nose and walk around. It looks like you’re walking on the ceiling! Be sure the floor is clear before trying this as you won’t be able to see where you’re stepping.
  3. Make silly faces together in the bathroom mirror.
  4. Make beds and blankets for baby dolls with bathroom towels and washcloths.
  5. Bring cups, strainers, and containers of all sizes into the bathtub to explore pouring and capacity.
  6. Have a tickle match with (clean) loofahs.
  7. Grab random household items and bring them to the bathroom scale. Which is heavier? Which is the lightest? Are big items always heavier, or can little things be pretty dense, too?
  8. Try painting with an old comb for a fun process art activity.
  9. Turn each other into toilet paper mummies! Or design dresses for each other with a roll of TP.
  10. Use empty travel containers to practice opening and closing a variety of lids. Set little toys inside of each one for a fun surprise for younger kids!

All Over Adventures

  1. Entryway: Match the shoes! Or try them on and see how it feels to walk in footwear of varying sizes.
  2. Entryway: Play dress-up with family members’ coats!
  3. Entryway: Explore keys and find out which one fits in which door.
  4. Entryway: Learn about money, or play “store” with the spare change you bring home after shopping trips.
  5. On the stairs: Make a car or ball ramp with a cardboard box laying on the stairs.
  6. Windows: Grab a water-filled spray bottle and make window cleaning an enjoyable task with your littlest helpers!
  7. On the floor: Grab some painter's tape and make a road for cars to drive on.
  8. On the floor: Lay the tape on the floor in funny patterns and try to walk along the lines!
  9. Under desks, tables, etc: Hang blankets over the open edges for a new take on fort making.
  10. Anywhere: Lay out a cardboard box (or two) and let your children's imaginations take over!

All in all, there are tons of ways to have fun at home with kids using household goods! The next time your children are looking for something new to do, pull out this list and try an activity or two. And don’t forget to let us know how it goes! We have a feeling they’ll be entertained and engaged no matter which option you choose.

Play is All Around Us: Using Household Goods to Expand the Fun