| I received a complimentary Encourage Play box to facilitate this review.
All opinions expressed are 100% my own.
As you may have guessed from our post on the Importance of Play yesterday, I am passionate about play for my girls, both free play, as well as organized projects. I also love meeting fellow, like-minded parents, like Janine Halloran, the founder of Encourage Play. A licensed therapist, school counselor and a mom, Janine started Encourage Play to help kids learn the vital skills developed through play. She recently took her business one step farther, launching a monthly subscription service. Janine’s monthly Encourage Play box provides the perfect set of tools to facilitate great open-ended play activities. Have a peek inside her May Encourage Play box!
May’s Encourage Play Box
As the American Academy of Pediatrics describes, “Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.” Encourage Play’s monthly playdate kit is intentionally designed to help your child build social skills through play. Each month’s box focuses on a specific theme, and includes a brochure describing the theme, and how to use the materials included in various playdate and family activities.
The theme for May’s box was Flexibility. As you might imagine, with Big M in throes of threenager-dom and Lil’ M quickly approaching 2, flexibility is not their strongest character trait these days! The Encourage Play box provided a great platform to talk about what it means to be flexibility – both physically and emotionally.
Playdate Activity #1 – Invitation to Create
The play box included pipe cleaners and a black velvet bag of pony beads. One of the girls’ favorite activities to date, especially for Lil’ M, was our Beaded Bendable Shapes, so they were both excited to see these and got started right away!
Big M wanted to make a necklace for her cousin, whose birthday party we were attending the next day. Then she asked me to help her make a flower, like the ones in the Encourage Play box brochure.
Lil’ M just loves the focus and fine motor skill challenge of putting the beads on the pipe cleaners. The girls did a great job sharing the beads, until they ran out… fortunately, I had more in the craft closet!
Playdate Activity #2 – Flexible Pictures
It wasn’t long before Lil’ M noticed the ‘eggs!’ Ever since Easter she is obsessed with anything that looks remotely like an Easter Egg and knows that they open to reveal something fun inside. Our Encourage Play box included two Silly Putty eggs, one for each of the girls.
They were equally fascinated by its texture and stretch. Big M quickly noticed the pencils and envelope of paper and asked what those were for… I told her in addition to Silly Putty’s fun texture and stretch, it could also make a picture of a pencil drawing. The girls wanted to make their own drawings right away, after my quick demonstration! Confession, I do not own a pencil sharpener in my house, so I had to substitute the ones provided with mechanical pencils.
Family Activity – Flexible Brain
The Encourage Play box brochure recommends using the included stress-relief brain to broach a conversation with your family about flexibility, both in terms of physical aspects, as well as ‘being flexible.’ Lil’ M was a bit freaked out by the flexible brain, mostly due to texture, I think, but Big M thought it was awesome. I told her it was what the inside of her head looks like.
She played with it, and we talked about how it was firm, but squishy, but not as squishy as the Silly Putty. She also said it wasn’t as bendable as the pipe cleaners.I tried to then make the connection from physical aspects of flexibility to what it means to be flexible emotionally or at play. At 3.5, I think the concept was a little bit over her head, but we still had a great dialogue about how we can play with our friends and our sister. She talked about how sometimes she doesn’t want to play the same things as her friends, but they take turns choosing what to play. While she may not grasp that means they are being flexible yet, the fact that she can be flexible is great!
The girls both thoroughly enjoyed their May play box from Encourage Play. I loved how much they were learning, both about science, as well as social and fine motor skills, while they thought they were merely playing. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention how beautifully packaged and well thought out the box was… Lil’ M was even entertained by the shredded paper filler! There were plenty of materials included, and the box provides easy storage to use them again on another day. We can’t wait to get our June box!
To get a monthly Encourage Play box of your very own, visit Encourage Play Kits here! June’s theme is Working Together – make sure to place your order by June 21st to receive a June box.
About Janine Halloran, Encourage Play
Janine Halloran is a licensed therapist, school counselor and a mom. She started Encourage Play to help kids learn social skills through play. They provide resources and activities to help kids connect to one another and practice friendship skills.