Let's Play! 10 Playdate Ideas for Little Ones

Playdate V2

Nothing entertains a preschooler like another preschooler. It makes having friends over – the time-honored playdate -- a parent’s best friend. Still, two preschoolers makes for twice the preschool energy; and that makes planning essential.

Looking for fun ideas for little ones and friends? Here are a ten simple ones to consider.

Go to the Library

There’s always something new at the library — books, a weekly craft, toys, and games. There might even be a special event, like a weekend pajama party or teddy bear storytime. And it’ll all set the stage for a love of books and reading.

Visit First Responders

The local police and fire stations can be fascinating for little ones, and can help them learn about the importance of helping others. Call ahead to ask about a good time to stop by — you might even get a tour and have the opportunity to sit in the vehicles.

Hike an Easy Trail

Take a loop around the town lake or conservation area, walk along a park trail, or do an urban hike — getting moving together is a great way to encourage healthy habits! Need something more? Turn it into a color hunt, nature scavenger hunt, or a game of “I spy.” Hint: this might be best done with the other little visitor’s parents along.

Head to the Playground

Let them flex their motor skills! Introduce your child’s friend(s) to your favorite playground; or, find a new-to-all-of-you playground in a neighboring town. Some even have splash pads open in the summer. Cap it off at a local ice cream stand or eat lunch at a nearby café.

Play With Water

Run through the sprinklers, have fun with the garden hose, or set up a kiddie pool. Pull out the water table and toys and get splashing. If outside isn’t an option, don’t be afraid to bring water play indoors. Fill a plastic bin with water (you can even add food coloring), measuring cups and spoons, and other waterproof toys and set it up on some beach towels. Feeling even more adventurous? Create a mud kitchen instead! An added bonus: all of these sensory play experiences help children learn to explore the world, discover cause and effect, and more.

Get Creative

With art, the options are endless, and it gives children the opportunity to express their creativity in different ways. Set up stations in your house or outside — chalk, finger painting , coloring, stickers, playdough, and more, and rotate through them.

Go to The Friend’s House

Is there anything better than “new” toys? Your child will have a blast playing with their friend’s toys — and vice-versa. Switch off hosting playdates with your child’s friends’ parents to give everyone a chance to play with different things than they’re used to at home   — and, not to mention, give you and the other parents a much-needed break every now and then.


Eat lunch outside together, either in your backyard or at a nearby park. Bring fun items with you, such as chalk, bubbles, a ball to kick or throw around, and books to read. Being outdoors supports all areas of child development; plus, you’ll all benefit from a change in environment.

Cook Together

Recipes don’t have to be difficult to be delicious — choose something simple, such as muffins, banana bread, or waffles. Measure out the ingredients, pour, and mix — and, of course, enjoy eating the finished product together. (You could even pair this with the picnic idea above and eat al fresco  !)

Make It Fun & Educational

Do you have a nearby zoo, aquarium, or children’s museum? What about a botanical garden or farm? All of these places can provide as much entertainment as you need. If you only have an hour or two, choose one side of the zoo instead of trying to hit it all. Looking for a full-day adventure? Start on the first floor of the museum, break for lunch or a snack outside, and head back in for round two.

Playdates are a great way for your child to get to know others, build relationships, and boost social skills. When you’re racking your brain for ideas, tap into this list for fun, kid-friendly activities.


Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
Playdate V2