Melissa & Doug 5 Best Indoor Playdates

Screen-Free Fun

5 Ideas for the Best Indoor Playdates

February 06, 2023

Are you getting ready for winter’s long haul, trying to come up with creative ways to keep your kids entertained while they’re indoors? Hosting playdates can be a great solution. Playdates for toddlers and kids provide opportunities for little ones to use their imaginations and experience new things. It can be exciting for you to see your child interact with others as they begin practicing social and emotional skills. But a playdate can also be a great time for you to connect with other adults and get some social time for yourself.

Helpful Tip: For each suggestion, gather the items beforehand and put them in one place such as a large box, plastic bin, or laundry basket. It streamlines the process when you provide everything in advance, and it’ll also make clean up easier.

What Activities Should I Plan for a Playdate?

These five indoor playdate ideas let you set up engaging scenarios of unstructured play so that your kids can be kids – and while you stay within earshot – you get a much-needed break to socialize with your mom friends. 

PLAYDATE IDEA #1: Time for Preschool

Set the Scene: Set up one area as a little classroom with engaging learning tools such as books, blocks, art supplies, and fun puzzlesAdd a few dolls and stuffed animals as other classroom friends, and provide pads of paper, pencils, and stickers so kids can create their own worksheets. Whether they take on the role of the teacher or the student, they can review letters and numbers, gather around for story time, discover days of the week with a calendar, and even practice their scissor skills during arts and crafts time.
Parent Prompts: What will you be learning about today? Who are some of the other “kids” in your class? I’d love to see one of your art projects.

Melissa & Doug 5 Best Indoor Playdates School Time! Classroom Play Set

PLAYDATE IDEA #2: Our Sweet Bakery

Set the Scene: Gather pretend play food, cookie sheets, baking pans, cookie cutters, and baking toys such as the Slice and Bake Cookie Set. Add some paper, crayons, and stickers so kids can create a menu of items. They can highlight the day’s sweet specialties on colorful scratch pads, and decorate small cardboard boxes as take-out containers. The La Patisserie Bake Shop has a lot of these pretend play items and more! Kids can take turns in different roles -- dressing up as the baker, and buying goodies as the customer. Check in on their progress by visiting their store and trying some of their “yummy” treats.
Parent Prompts: What’s the name of your bakery? Does it have a theme? What’s your most popular item? Is there a sign out front?

Melissa & Doug La Patisserie Bakery - two kids playing

PLAYDATE IDEA #3: A Very Special Zoo

Set the Scene: Stuffed animals, dolls, animal puzzle pieces, and animal figures can be the zoo residents. All kinds of wooden blocks can be used to create animal enclosures of different sizes and shapes. Who could be making all those sounds? The animals must be hungry! A zookeeper has important jobs to do. Time to feed the animals, fix things around the zoo, and take some of the animals out for a stroll.
Parent Prompts: What’s your favorite animal? How big is your zoo? Can you put any of the animals in the same area? What do you feed the animals?

Melissa & Doug Farm Friends Hand Puppets

PLAYDATE IDEA #4: Put on a Show

Set the Scene: Provide a variety of miscellaneous items that kids can use as props in their stage show. Sheets, towels, and blankets make great impromptu costumes, and sweet tiaras are the crowning touch in a fashion show. Kids can add music to their performance as they shine in the spotlight while dancing or walking the red carpet.  Set up a few chairs draped with a sheet or blanket to designate the “back stage” area as budding stars get ready with makeup and hair. When they’re ready, they can offer you a ticket to the show with a front row seat. (Be sure to give a standing ovation for a job well done!)
Parent Prompts: What’s the name of your show? Can you describe your fashion statement for the audience? May I have your autograph?

Melissa & Doug 5 Best Indoor Playdates Role Play Collection Crown Jewels Tiaras

PLAYDATE IDEA #5:  Let’s Go On a Train Trip

Set the Scene: Create a scenario in which kids can take a pretend train trip and visit different people and places throughout their journey. You can create no-mess train tracks by placing blue painter’s tape or masking tape along the floor. Kids can first plan their journey with this USA map floor puzzle and then it’s “all aboard” as the conductor stamps the tickets and rolls the wooden train cars along the tracks, passing buildings, and other trains too. You never know what friends they’ll see along the way.
Parent Prompts: Where is the train taking you? Who will you visit? How long is your train? Can you work together to build the tallest tower you’ll see along the way?

Melissa & Doug 5 Best Indoor Playdates Take-Along Railroad