As the mother of both, I’ll say right up front that these ideas can be fun for both girls and boys. On the other hand, the phone calls, email questions and “help” text messages I’ve been receiving from my friends have all been looking for indoor play date ideas especially for young boys.
With school out and lots of play dates and holiday parties, I’ve had ample experiences recently entertaining young boys from ages four to nine. Sure the girls have happily joined in on the balloon batting and two of the nine year old boys couldn’t resist joining the sewing homemade Christmas ornaments activities the older girls started, but here’s a list of five winning ideas for indoor play dates that appeal to young boys.
Build a blanket fort
I pulled four chairs into the center of the living room and handed out a pile of blankets. Within five minutes the rowdy little boys that had previously been burning their brakes to not run around my house were all inside their fort giggling. After a few minutes I knocked (part of the fun was telling me this was a boys-only-no-moms allowed fort) and offered in flashlights, which keep the contained play going for another thirty minutes.
Young boys love to swat, hit, kick and throw and one of my favorite ways to let boys be boys inside is to get out a pack of latex balloons. (*Latex balloons are a choking hazard for children three and under. I only use this activity with big boys ages five and over.) Some can blow up the balloons with their own hot air and I help others. Before I hand over balloons I set up boundaries like staying away from the woodstoves, houseplants or ceiling fans. Boys will bop, bounce and bat balloons all around, but unlike with balls, no one has gotten hurt and nothing has been broken.
This is really fun for boys and a good excuse for me to finally match all those unpaired socks. As a bonus, little boys who are presented with the idea of playing sock basketball in the house will be willing to help you match up socks. Sock basketball just requires pairs of socks, laundry baskets and a stand behind boundary line. You can have a free for all or take turns and keep score but sock basketball is always a big score for play dates with young boys.
If you’ve got cardboard boxes that boys can sit in, you’ve got a great play date idea. I keep package boxes around for rainy days or freezing days and they are often a more valuable product than whatever arrived in them. Give little boys big boxes and they’ll let you know what accessories they need like a whistle because they are train engineers or a metal colander because they need a satellite for their space ship. Little boys really know how to “think outside the box” when they are in one.
Recycled box shoes
Now we’re using smaller boxes like the ones freezer bags or tissues come in. Sometimes my cardboard recycling box holds more play than a toy chest. Have little boys take off their shoes and try on these box skates. You can even cut a hole into the side of cereal boxes. Now let them have a box shoe parade to skate, clomp and tromp around the house. Another alternative is to build up a sensory gym. Basically, a sensory gym is a room for active sensory play.