As a stay at home mom, I found being home all day was isolating and lonely. I also worried about my one year old’s social development because he wasn’t given a regular opportunity to interact with other kids. I looked to see if our community had a toddler playgroup, but it didn’t – so I decided to create one. With a little planning, you can easily create one as well.
Decide When and Where You’ll Meet
I decided our group would be an outside playgroup. I didn’t want the stress of inviting a bunch of people over to my house, plus I wanted more opportunities for my toddler to play outside.
We meet once a month at a park in our neighborhood, it’s nothing fancy or super exciting but it works just fine for us.
Decide the Focus Age of Your Playgroup
There is a big difference between a group that is focused on 1 year olds verses a group that is focused on 3 year olds. You’ll want to keep in mind how the kids may interact and respond differently to the activities. Although most kids in this preschool age can still play well together.
Sometimes you may have an activity that an older toddler isn’t interested in. But a great benefit of having our playgroup at the park is that while the little toddlers are busy doing their activity, any older siblings can play close by on the playground equipment.
Having a monthly theme for your playgroup is optional, but it helps to make the group feel more organized and official. Plus it adds another element of fun and more opportunities for learning.
I ask everyone each month to bring something very simple and easy from home to go along with the theme.
For example one month will be a “Music” theme. Everyone will bring one item from their home that makes sound. And then we’ll just let the kids take it from there. I believe it’s best to allow kids to initiate their own version of play with each of the activities. We just set up something for the kids to do, and then step back and let them interact and play, without the adults interfering too much.
January: Snow Fun
This is just a chance to get out and play in the snow together. Dress warm and bring: sleds, kids shovels, and cups to pack the snow into.
February: Shapes Day
Where I live we usually still have snow in February. I used this month to focus on the basic shapes of circles, squares, and triangles. Bring items from home that have these different shapes. You can also practice drawing the different shapes in the snow.
March: Red, Blue, Yellow
Have everyone bring something that is Red, Yellow, and Blue. You can have three bins and practice sorting the items or just let the kids play.
April: Music Day
Everyone will bring one item from their home that makes sound. This can be an actual instrument or just a random item or toy.
May: Nature / Bug Day
Bring toy bugs or capture real bugs. It’s up to you.
June: Bubbles and Balls
I asked parents to bring a toy ball and a tube of bubbles. I also set up a bubble machine that my son received as a gift for his birthday. The kids loved this! Although it attracted a lot of older children from the park.
July: Water Fun
Tell everyone to dress for water fun. You can set up a few bins with water and ask them to bring either sponges, small cups, or water toys from home.
August: Chalk Fun
Have everyone bring some chalk from home. Find a safe place for the kids to draw on the sidewalk.
September: Cardboard Box Day
Save those big cardboard boxes for this day. We had a few boxes that were big enough for the kids to crawl through and they loved it. Just remember to bring boxing tape with you.
October: Number’s Day
Ask them to bring something that has a number on it. You can also have a large sheet of paper and write the numbers 1-10 on it. Then
have the kids sort the objects onto the numbered papers or just line them up in order.
November: Fall Leaves
Have fun collecting and comparing Fall leaves. You may also be able to create piles and let the kids run through them.
December: Building Blocks and Snowmen
Practice packing snow into tupperware containers and build a wall together, or you can help them build a snowman.
I hope this gives you the confidence you need to start your own toddler playgroup. Our biggest focus is to have fun! Get out of the house, meet new friends, and let the kids explore the outside world together.