My daughter screeched, “Mom, he pushed me!” while my three-year-old son refuted, “No, I not!”
She shot him a dirty look.
He rolled on top of her back like a rolling pin flattening a huge mound of pizza dough and I knew that I needed to step in.
Not to solve the problem…
But to suggest a few ways to be constructive together instead of killing each other.
I figure that it’s the least that I can do. I am their Mom after all. And, I like avoiding the ER.
I’ve seen boredom jars and a few other ways to get kids engaged, but this is my list of 10 easy suggestions to get kids playing together without having to do anything fancy.
Note: there’s a few key things that we like to keep on hand that help to make this list work for our family.
When my kids are battling it out on the couch and all I can here is, “he said this”, “she said that!,” I normally know what time it is: 4:00pm.
It’s literally like clockwork.
The kids have been home just long enough from school that they are restless, but it’s the time of day when I need to get dinner prepped, to finish up morning chores, or to put wine glasses in the dishwasher for later that night.
It can be a challenge to get siblings to play together.
10+ ideas that I suggest to encourage my kids to play together OR they have the option to do “something creative” apart from one another.
“Something creative” is time doing something you love on your own like playing dolls/cars, building, drawing, etc. It doesn’t not mean decorating the bathroom by unrolling all the toilet paper. I had to make that clear to my son…
10 Ways to Encourage Sibling Play
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Put out a few bubble wands (especially great for families with babies and toddlers). If I plan on leaving my kids for a few minutes, I try to get them started by saying things like:
- How many bubbles can you blow with one breath?
- One of you blow the bubbles and see if the other can pop them ALL! Then switch.
Cushions and Pillows
This one might not work for you, but my kids play with this for hours. Gather pillows from different rooms and take cushions off of the couch. Let kids build, crawl, and play with the pillows.
- Can you make a fort that doesn’t fall?
- Can you make a hot lava bridge?
- Can you get from one place to the other without touching the floor?
This is my kid’s favorite thing to do, but your kids will start taking cushions off of your couch daily after this. Just a warning.
Empty Re-usable Bags & Purses
Have you ever seen Grandma’s open their bags and let kids take things out and put them back in? They’re on to something! Younger kids especially love this game.
Get out your purses from the closet, backpacks, wallets, and re-usable bags alongside some favorite soft toys or play food. Let them load and unload the bags
- How many bags can you fill up?
- Can you set up a store? (warning: they’ll want YOU to shop!)
- Pick out your siblings favorite toy and hide it inside one of the bags – can they find it?
This was a go-to game for us when my kids were under 4 years old. It’s great for big siblings to play with littles too.
Fabric & Scarves
Who doesn’t love fort building? If you don’t want to take cushions off of the couch, let kids go crazy with a few sheets, rubber bands, and chairs to build a fort.
My kids love adding a few books and blankets to make a cozy reading space.
Get your kids playing with simple games:
- Play Hide and Seek! Hold baby if they aren’t moving yet to get them involved.
- Peek-a-boo is perfect for babies and older siblings – use the fabric that you got out from the suggestion above!
- Follow the leader – let the youngest one lead and have the others follow how they move (crawling, toddling, etc.)
- Imitate Each Other – Can you do & look like your brother or sister for 1 minute? Then, switch.
- Try to get the other to laugh or to smile – what did you do?
Gather anything large and metallic in the house alongside a magnetic wand or other magnets (Look on your fridge, you might have some options that you didn’t think of!).
- Gather mason jar lids, muffin tins, pots, pans, spoons, etc. along with the wands.
- Build a structure with magnets. We love our Magna-Tiles, but I have my eye on these to add to our christmas list.
PS. We made a magnetic wall in our house with this and our kids LOVE it!
Musical & Dance
Drums, rattles, shakers, bells, keyboard or anything else in the house. We use Alexa to play music (all you have to say is “Alexa, play music”) and my kids love to dance.
PS. Check out our post about making instruments glow in the dark!
Blow up a few balloons and let kids hit them around the room.
It’s so simple, but you’d be amazed with how long kids will play with balloons!
We love our tunnel, but you can open up old cardboard boxes to create tunnels and pathways too.
My kids love putting the tunnel around each other, pushing the tunnel down to the ground, and letting it POP up towards the ceiling. It’s too much fun to watch!
Nothing brings children together like water play. This is safest for the young children, too. Fill a small tub with water, a few cups, and some plastic toys.
OR, you can put your kids in the bath and let them play. It contains the water, keeps them happy, and gets bath done early. That’s a win/win!
Keep this list handy for a rainy day or when you need to get dinner ready.
Check out More Ways to Connect as a Family