Play with your preschooler
Only have an hour to spend on playtime? Make it quality time using these 5 tips.
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1. Baking buddies
Make sure that they learn and play at the same time.  The chemistry of creating a cake from chaos will intrigue most children – especially if they get to eat the product! Buy quick bake cupcakes which make for a quick transformation from parts to tarts. Simply add liquid ingredients and little hands (hopefully using a spatula) to mix. 15 minutes later they can even decorate their own creations. As an added bonus, some of the mixes available change colour when you add in the egg and milk. Hint: Make sure you have a 15 minute game or DVD handy to stave off the impatience while the cupcakes bake.

2. Stories aren't just for bedtime

"Pleeeeeease read me a story?' It's good to give in – even while the broccoli's boiling. Reading stimulates the imagination and promotes creativity.  It also links the child's current situation – what they are listening to – to past events that were similar. This encourages them to make connections between the book characters and real life friends and family situations. Besides all that development, helping to find Spot or laughing at the mad Cat in the Hat is just good entertainment!

3. Puzzle people
Put together a puzzle with your preschooler. Make sure that they do all the work, though, and just suggest where certain pieces will go.  Puzzles develop problem solving skills and are great visual learning aids for kids. But most of all, it's great to see mommy and daddy clap for the perfect picture little Peter or Phumla has built all 'alone'.

4. Colouring for two
Colouring has kids busily quiet for long peaceful – let's not get carried away – minutes at a time. It's also one of the methods therapists recommend as a stress relief exercise. So not only is it creative and fun, it's beneficial to both of you! So get down on the mat with those jumbo-sized crayons and colouring book and colour your world the way you want it.

5. Culture creativity
Pick a culture or nationality that your children have seen and dress yourselves up to look like them.  A pretty sheet easily becomes a Sari and a towel-to-toga transformation happens in a matter of minutes! Don’t forget cultures with hats, beaded bracelets, necklaces and skirts – I mean kilts – for boys.  The more contrasting the culture the better.  Preschoolers are sponges for new information so get out the child encyclopaedia and find a culture that interests you. And inform about the uniform! Teach your kids about the culture.  You might be surprised what you discover while you do.

What are your playtime favourites with your kids?


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