Cardboard Bus

100 Ways to Play

In 100 years of creating, educating and innovating, Boston Children's Museum has encouraged children and families to play together at the Museum, at home and out in the world in more ways than we can count. Every day, there are a wealth of opportunities for adults and their children to play and grow together. We have chosen 100 of our favorites, in honor of our 100th anniversary and we share them with you here. See how many of these 100 Ways to Play you can try together this year!

  1. After it rains, take off your shoes and stomp and splash together in the puddles that the storm left behind.
  2. Cook together…but don’t follow a recipe!  See if you can create a delicious cake, or cookie, or veggie dip from scratch without any help from a cookbook.  How did it turn out?  What would you change?  Compare your recipe to one you find in a cookbook or online.  Check out these activities for some ideas (http://www.beyondthechalkboard.com/activities/cupcake-science/; http://www.beyondthechalkboard.com/activities/food-power-design-a-dip/).
  3. Paint a moustache on your face and negotiate a business deal with your parents.
  4. While waiting for your food to arrive at a restaurant, make an accordion with your straw wrapper.
  5. Make snow angels.
  6. Put on a play based on your favorite story.
  7. Find an ordinary (or extraordinary) object and look at it closely: examine every detail, describe what it smells like, what it feels like (are there different textures to it?); if you have a magnifying glass see if that shows new details you hadn’t noticed.  Even familiar objects start to take on new characteristics when they are explored close-up.
  8. Draw a crazy scribble and give it to someone to make a picture out of. Or, make a bunch of doodles together and then make up stories about them.  Check out this activity for some ideas (http://www.beyondthechalkboard.com/activities/scribble-stories/).
  9. In the car, look for the letters A to Z, in order, on signs, license plates or billboards.
  10. While you are waiting for a bus, try to find shapes in the environment around you (squares, triangles, circles); or anything red, blue or green…practice those powers of observation!
  11. Find random objects around the house that have at least one thing in common; see if someone can guess what connects them. Then, have the person that guessed find their own objects to challenge you with.
  12. Plant some seeds from a fruit you ate and watch them grow. Try tomatoes or avocados especially.
  13. Make shadow puppets out of recycled materials, then put on a play that you make up with those puppets. You can pull the shade off of a lamp and use the bright light to help with your puppets. Check out this activity for ideas (http://www.beyondthechalkboard.com/activities/shadow-puppet-play/).
  14. Play your favorite music and have a dance party with family and friends! Make up a new, silly dance move to teach to everyone. Take turns making up new moves.
  15. Create a collage out of old newspapers, magazines, mail, art work, maps….
  16. Find a place that no one knows about.
  17. Make paper dolls and accessories.
  18. Play sardines: it’s like hide and seek, but only one person hides and everyone else looks. If a seeker finds the hider, the seeker squeezes into the hiding space with him. No giggling!
  19. Learn how to juggle! Click here for instructions for making your own juggling balls (http://www.beyondthechalkboard.com/activities/juggling/)!
  20. Roll down a grassy hill.
  21. Pour cream into your coffee, but don’t stir!  Watch the beautiful patterns it creates as it swirls around.
  22. See how many clothes you can pile on top of each other then try to do jumping jacks.
  23. Lift up a rock and see what you observe underneath it.
  24. Make face paint and paint yourself (and your friends!) silly. Check out some recipes here (http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Your-Own-Face-Paint) and here (http://www.ehow.com/how_6452736_homemade-face-paint-food-coloring.html).
  25. Build a snowman.
  26. Watch the clouds and talk about what (or who) they look like.  Make up stories about these cloud objects, animals and people.
  27. Lie on the ground at a local park and see who can count the most different kinds of bugs.
  28. Create your own crazy jumps, spins and tumbles.
  29. Tickle each other.
  30. Make your own tangram set and see how many shapes you can make.  Check out this link for instructions and challenges (http://www.beyondthechalkboard.com/activities/tangrams/).
  31. On a long car ride, look for license plates from every state. 
  32. Round up single socks to put on a puppet show.
  33. Fill spray bottles with water and some food coloring and paint the snow.
  34. Have a parade at home with any drums or shakers you may have…or make your own instruments with pots, pans, wooden spoons, etc.  March around the house singing songs you love and keeping the beat with your instruments!
  35. Learn origami! Check out this link for some tips (http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Origami).
  36. Build a pillow fort and defend it from your stuffed animals.
  37. Create a drawing using only the letters in your name.
  38. Spin around and around on the grass until you fall down, then watch the world swirl around you.
  39. See how many sounds you can make with objects in your kitchen.
  40. Dig a hole in your yard and see what you find.
  41. Make a snow globe – glue an object to the inside top of a baby food jar, add water and glitter to the jar and close it up.  You can glue the lid to the jar or use “thread tape” to help keep it from leaking.  Try mineral or baby oil instead of water – does the glitter “snow” fall differently? Click here for some tips (http://www.beyondthechalkboard.com/activities/snow-globes/).
  42. Tie your socks together (while you’re wearing them) and have a race.
  43. While you wait in line, make up stories about the other people in line. Are they spies on a secret mission? Are they here to surprise the cashier? This is especially fun while waiting at the airport, train station or bus stop.
  44. Take a song you know and make up new words.
  45. Invent your own card game.
  46. Read together; change the storyline or ending of a familiar book/story to see who notices first what you changed.
  47. Make paper fortune tellers and go tell everyone their fortune (http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Cootie-Catcher-(Origami-Fortune-Teller)).
  48. Cut a variety of fruits and vegetables open to observe what’s inside.  Then, eat the fruits and vegetables!
  49. Raid the recycle bin and see what you can make! Will you make a robot, a city, a sculpture?
  50. In the grocery store, shop by color (especially in the fruits and vegetables aisle) – what foods do we need that are green?  How about red?
  51. Have a freeze dance! Put on some music and dance like crazy. When the music stops, freeze in whatever wacky position you’re in.
  52. Play toe tac tic: the goal is to NOT get three in a row.
  53. Make a whistle with a blade of grass. Check out some tips here (http://www.wikihow.com/Whistle-Using-Grass).
  54. Have a jump roping contest.
  55. Build structures using straws and pipe cleaners or paper clips to connect them together.
  56. Make crazy hats out of paper, paper grocery bags or fabric.
  57. Practice pouring – give your young child a small plastic pitcher and a few plastic cups in the bathtub and ask them to fill the cups with the pitcher…then ask them to fill the pitcher with the cups!  Experiment with different sized cups.
  58. Play “Thing-Go Bingo” on a long car ride (especially if it’s a daily commute) – each player picks 5 things they think they’ll see on their car ride…first person to spot those 5 things calls out bingo! Click here for instructions (http://www.beyondthechalkboard.com/activities/thing-go-bingo/).
  59. Throw a bed sheet over your dining room or kitchen table to make an instant clubhouse.
  60. Make up songs about your daily chores or routines, like taking out the garbage, washing the dishes or going to school.
  61. Freeze plastic bowls of water with plastic animals in them.
  62. Finger paint on the tile wall in the bathtub.
  63. Go on a monster hunt – take turns being different kinds of monsters.
  64. Add a cup of dish soap to a gallon of water, swirl it around and go outside to blow bubbles!  Can you make a bubble with your hands? Check out some tips for making excellent bubbles here (http://www.beyondthechalkboard.com/activities/bubbles/).
  65. Make up your own constellations while you look at the stars.
  66. Tell silly jokes, make some up and laugh, laugh, laugh.
  67. Play catch! Try to move as far away from your partner as you can and still reach them with your throw.
  68. Fill balloons with water and freeze them, peel off the balloon to get a round ice (cube?).
  69. Invent your own language; speak it with your brother in front of your parents.
  70. Learn a new game. If you have a group of friends, try this one (http://www.beyondthechalkboard.com/activities/color-colorcito/).
  71. Gather a few flashlights and in a dark room play flashlight tag, tell stories, or make light patterns on the ceiling and walls.
  72. Turn a leftover box into a car by cutting out windows, a door and by drawing wheels.
  73. Make a tape drawing using different colored tape.
  74. Do a texture hunt in your old magazines at home - find something that looks: fuzzy, rough, slippery, slimy, bumpy, soft, etc.
  75. Grab a big glass bowl filled with water and some food coloring – experiment with color mixing my adding one drop of food coloring at a time.
  76. Cut some string and play cat’s cradle. Check out this link for some tips (http://www.wikihow.com/Play-The-Cat%27s-Cradle-Game).
  77. Play 20 questions.
  78. Make a sled out of a cardboard box.
  79. Pretend that you and your child haven’t met before, and strike up a conversation at the playground.  Encourage your child to ask questions and trade information.
  80. Dress up like your favorite super-hero. Don’t have a costume? Make one!
  81. Pick a scene from a favorite movie and try to act it out together from memory.
  82. Make oobleck out of cornstarch and water and play around with it.  Add more cornstarch or more water and see how it is different. Click here for some tips (http://www.beyondthechalkboard.com/activities/oobleck/).
  83. Use books, cardboard boxes, and other stuff in your living room to make a castle.
  84. Make a big spider web out of string and try to untangle it.
  85. Make an obstacle course inside or outside with pillows, benches, jump rope, anything you can go over, around and through.
  86. Anything can be a hat.  Wear something unexpected on your head.
  87. Try to sing an entire conversation, instead of speaking.
  88. Make some homemade sidewalk chalk paint using cornstarch, food coloring and water. Click here for a recipe (http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Your-Own-Sidewalk-Chalk/).
  89. Go for a walk and walk each block like a different zoo animal.
  90. Make paddles from wire hangers (to form the frame) and panty hose over that and use them to bat balloons around.
  91. Make mud pies.
  92. Build card houses.
  93. Grab a variety of fruits and vegetable, predict which ones will sink and which will float, then toss them in a sink or bin full of water and find out!
  94. When you are waiting in line anywhere, ask your child to estimate how many people are in line in front of you, and then count them.  Try again with how many people are behind you.  Then estimate how long it will take to get through the line. For more simple math games, check out this website (http://mixinginmath.terc.edu/).
  95. Dance around with scarves in your hands.
  96. Make homemade instruments and start a band.
  97. Go on a 10 minute walk around your neighborhood and find things that start with the letter “S”.  Then try a new letter.
  98. Have a “serious contest”: stare at each other, and try not to smile or laugh.
  99. Play broom ball – brooms + any size rubber ball = hours of fun.
  100. Build a snow fort.