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The shortest day is upon us, with the usual miserable winter weather to follow.
The children are cooped up inside more often at weekends and during the holidays.
Those with a space that can be dedicated to children’s play are luckier than most. Grandparents, however, may have such a basement area or even a spare bedroom and could consider equipping it for when the grandchildren come to visit.
If you have the space and have the time to set-up and decorate a playroom, you can find plenty of ideas online.
But what’s more important is what’s in the room or space, so, with more and more parents looking for ways other than television or other electronic entertainment for their younger children, here are some "old-fashioned" playroom or play box ideas for winter.
• Dressing up. Children love being someone else and it needn’t be "state of the art" superhero costuming, but things that can be turned into capes and hats and masks. Try "dollar shops" or the op shop for some interesting garments.
• Playing house or camping. A lightweight, framed children’s indoor tent can provide hours of fun, but so can old sheets and chairs, with cushions or pillows. And large cardboard boxes with doors and windows cut in them. Old pots and pans.
• There should always be a supply of colouring-in equipment and books. For older youngsters, there’s paint-by numbers. Try an old-fashioned chalkboard or a whiteboard.
• Magazines for cutting up, scrapbooks and paste. Scraps of material. Playdough.
• Making greeting cards for coming family birthdays.
• Old gadgets can provide hours of fun — an old typewriter, musical instrument and kitchen equipment (without their electric plugs).
• Wooden blocks or more sophisticated building products kept in a plastic storage bin. Clean tin cans with no sharp edges, plastic containers, jars and milk bottles.
• A set of farm animals, small toy vehicles, not to mention simple dolls and soft toys. Or help them make sock puppets.
• It’s not too difficult to make a basic, two-storied doll’s house out of light board, carpet, curtain and wallpaper scraps.
• Jigsaw puzzles and a dedicated small table or suitable board on which to work so they can stay put until finished.
• Board games and card games can while away a wet hour or two but may need more input from you while they learn to play the game and learn about winning and losing graciously.
• Into the kitchen for a baking binge with you.
And, for ambience, how about a background of children’s music or stories.