boy counting colourful peg dolls

creative ways to play

These creative ways to play will help your kids grow their innate creativity and curiosity. This is so important because these type of imaginative, open-ended play activities assist in a healthy mind’s development. Select a toy from the list or just scroll down to see all the activity ideas.

pencil spinning tops

Watch this video on YouTube.
This video takes you through my top tips for setting up and using pencil tops.

get doodling with your pencil top

boy spinning a pencil top
Pencil spinning tops can be enjoyed by all children whether they consider themselves arty of not. The spinning motion is fascinating and the fact that the outcome is a surprise makes them very intriguing.
pencil top patterns on paper
Doodling is a very relaxing activity as it’s an end in itself and the final outcome is not really important. It’s a great way to create a mindful minute in the day and destress the mind.

spinning tops

boys playing outdoors with spinning tops
There are lots of games that can be played with traditional spinning tops.

spinning top games

  • how long?

Time your top and see how long you can spin it for. Keep a record of your best time and challenge yourself and others to beat it. Alternatively, go head to head and see who’s spins the longest?

  • hit the target

This is a bit like bowls. First draw a target on the ground in chalk. From your starting spot, aim to spin your top towards the target and try to get it to stop in the centre of the target. Play alone or with a friend.

  • battle

My sons’ favourite! Spin your top towards your opponents and try to knock their top over or out of the arena. To create an arena simply draw a circle on the ground, mark out with masking tape or use a tray or plate. This game is also great fun when played with whipping tops.

  • skittles

Watching this fabulous vintage Skittles Spinning Top Game has given me an idea for a future toy but you could have a go at knocking anything down with your top. Experiment and see what you can knock over. How about a skittle, a building block, a toy figure or a pencil?

This fun video, Science is the Tops, explains why tops only stay upright when they’re spinning. Then shows how to make your own pencil spinning top out of card.

whipping tops

spinning technique

Watch this video on YouTube.
How to wind up and spin a whipping top.


boy playing with wooden skittles game

Play your skittle game by laying them out in a well spaced, triangle shape, ie 1 at the front, 2 in the second row and 3 at the back. Then take turns trying to knock them down using the felt ball. Learning to take turns is an important social skill.


Why not try lining them up in a row and knocking them down one at a time?

Arrange them in order according to their colour while singing the rainbow song?

Use the felt ball to knock down other toys.

Take your skittle people on an adventure of their own.

peg dolls

create your own pipkind

Pipkinds are simple peg dolls that allow kids to create their own play figures. There are 3 sizes and 6 different shapes, all safe for ages 0+. Each one comes with its own design card to support the character’s creation. At some events I offer a Pipkind drop-in workshop where I help kids to design and create a Pipkind using pens, pencils and recycled materials. Here’s just a few to inspire you.

wooden peg doll with design card
Each Pipkind peg doll comes with its own design card to help get the creative juices flowing.
boy and girl decorating wooden peg dolls with scrap materials
Dolls can be created from any scrap materials – fabric, ribbon, elastic bands, card, paper, wool pens and pencils.
boy playing with a love heartwood crafty peg doll
Making their own toy is a very empowering experience for a child.

make a mini movie

Stop motion’s a great way to introduce children to making up their own stories even from a young age. This short animation was created with my son Dexter (age 7) using a free stop motion app on my smart phone.

Watch this video on YouTube.
FOOD- a stopmotion animation featuring my 2 favourite Pipkinds.

If you’d like to see more of our animations check out the Pipkind Adventures Playlist.

Don’t forget to share your stop motion stories using #pipkindadventures on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter.

wooden toy cars

Here’s a couple of creative ways to play with Love Heartwood’s wooden cars. The hard wearing plant based varnish allows them to be rolled through play dough and even paint and then cleaned using a damp cloth. You can also make roads for your cars using strips of paper inside or outdoors.

sensory play – paint a tyre picture or make tracks in play dough

wooden car making tracks in play dough

have a downhill race

wooden toy cars going downhill

make your own natural play dough

Watch this video on YouTube.

Visit The Imagination Tree for this and more fantastic play dough recipes.

For games see spinning top games

cup and ball

father and son playing with a cup and ball game

No matter your age, playing with a cup and ball game helps to improve hand eye co-ordination.

The technique is to let the ball swing forwards and backwards and then on the upswing move the cup upwards in a scooping motion to catch it. This takes practice. Practising builds not only skill but perseverance which is a great attitude to develop for life in general.

Top Tip

To make the game easier – shorten the string by pulling it back through the hole and placing your thumb over the top of it to stop it pulling back through.

creative play the natural way

Share your games and ways to play using the hashtag #creativeplaythenaturalway

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