Educational Gift Ideas: Play School

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Play Time Fun

Do your children still play make believe?  Do they play they are a super hero or a fireman, running through the house trying to rescue people?  Or what about the quieter game of library or school?  Games where we pretended to be someone else, and had a whole play area set up for it.

There was an article online today that asked if kids still play outside.  Do yours?

This may start to feel like a grandfather story of how he walked five miles to school every day.  In the snow.  Barefoot.  But I hope it doesn’t.

Most of my best memories growing up come from the outdoors.  Most of the rest come from playing with my sister or friends in the bedroom we shared, making up games and using our imagination.  Especially cozy on winter days.

Outside and Inside, Minus Electronics

The yard was anything we wanted it to be.  We built blanket forts, played hide and seek, made up games and stories.  Better still were the days camping, or fishing in a little stream. Then we would climb rocks, hide beneath thick, tall trees, run in the forest.  That seems like heaven to children, especially when they are out of school.  Same with the back yard. Sure we had to get our homework done, but it was so refreshing to get out in the fresh air and run free after being confined, more or less, all day.

Inside, we could pass hours playing library or another favorite, school.  Up until we started getting too much homework, we played school.  We would have a chalkboard, exercises to do, homework pages.  Yes we were young.  Those first years we used to ask our teachers for homework.  It was so grown up and fun.  No worry, we got over that eventually, but still loved school.

Gathering old books my parents had, some even math books they had used, we could cover all subjects.  We had encyclopedias for science and social studies, plenty of books for reading. We could take turns being teacher and student.  At least I hope we remembered to take turns.

Stimulating the Imagination

I still believe today that play like that stimulates the imagination.  That’s why I am always pleased to find a set made for kids with the ‘tools’ they need to play.  Like the one above, made by Melissa and Doug, that includes a variety of props.  You’ll find stickers, whiteboards a bell, a timer, lesson plans, and more—even ideas for field trips.  Fun ideas for kids to build on and make up.  They might play for hours!

It worries me a little when I see how often and how much we are connected to our electronics. I am too, so I get it.  I can do all sort of things on that little phone screen. But generally when I am using it, I am doing things other people have created.  It makes me wonder if we are narrowing down our view so much that we will come to rely on it more than ourselves to get  out and explore, create and imagine.

Because of that, anything gift like this would be a favorite to me.  There are a variety of sets available for different experiences.  You can have the school or library experience, or perhaps a shopping day, complete with cash register.

Click here to see a wonderful selection of play sets and toys from Melissa and Doug.

Here are a couple of my other favorites.  First, a tool kit your little builder can take along on jobs.  Building,  A great way to entertain while creating something.  Lots of parts to screw, hammer, or crank together.  Then take them apart and build something new.  It’s recommended for ages 3 and up.  It looks like hours of fun!

A cash register is always fun for kids to play with.  Again, this product is from Melissa and Doug, so you know it’s well made and durable.  This register even comes with a swipe for credit cards.  Add a shopping cart like this one to it and your child will be ready to play.


Merry Citarella, often writing as Merrci, writes on a wide range of topics. Recently relocated to the Oregon Coast in the northwest United States, she frequently writes travel features on the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She specializes in health and aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, food, lifestyle, and book reviews. For more information you can see her on The Writers’Door. You can read more articles here or at her websites Mystery Suspense Reviews .

Author: Merry Citarella

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