• Mrs Morning Coffee

Cheap kids activity: A Giant Roadway

When it's the school holidays I find myself thinking about activities I could do with the Coffee Beans. I could write you a whole list of places to visit or activities to do, but more often than not these cost money or they take lots of set up for only a short amount of involvement.

The Giant Roadway is a lovely activity to have down for a weekend or school holiday and best of all it's incredibly cheap. All you need is a roll of masking tape and some imagination and you're onto a winner!

At the top of my list for holiday play is something that can be played with over and over, something that doesn't cost loads of money and most importantly something that doesn't require any of us to get out of our pyjamas to do it. Yes I'm being honest! As nice as it is to visit places sometimes I just want to be at home in the holidays. I want to make the most of slow days where you're not navigating the school run and I want to let run down children take the time they need to rest and recuperate from whatever the past few weeks have thrown at them. I take no shame in saying that school holidays for us are a time to step off the treadmill of life, to regroup, play and sit in front of the fire drinking hot chocolate!

Having two boys I find that cars are always a staple of play. They will quite happily spend their time rolling them round and chasing or bashing into each other. This is fine for a time but when they get to the point of bashing the cars into the furniture (or worse still your feet) then it's nice to help them be a little more productive in their play and the Giant Roadway is a great way of encouraging this. It even has the added bonus that they become slightly more contained (which is a polite way of saying not in every space you go to stand in!) as instead they are guided by the road lines!

You basically take some masking tape and stick it down on the floor to make road formations. You can make it as big or small as you have space for and you can create anything you want: roundabouts, zebra crossings or even a car park. We also like to include destinations in our road layout too. We make these out of whatever other toys we have available: a fair out of Duplo, a garage, a farm (we don’t have a farm but we have a farm jigsaw puzzle so we just use that) and dinosaur world is also a favourite destination which literally means arranging all the dinosaurs into one place! This time we made a town, a building site, a carpark, dinosaur land and the sea complete with a pirate ship.

My 3 year old Coffee Bean loves playing with the roadway, my 6 year old Coffee Bean will play with it but now he's that bit older he really enjoys being master of the masking tape and creating the road layout.

This holiday I'm also going to take the play another step further. I'm going to get my youngest to learn his left from his right by navigating him around the roads and the eldest I am going to encourage to make written road signs out of paper that we'll stick to the floor too. He's already made one sign for the building site telling everyone who goes there to wear a hard hat - very health and safety conscious!

Really the possibilities in this play are endless, you could even make things like traffic lights or buildings from junk modelling if you have children who enjoy those type of activities. It's all about creating family time and guided play and none of that has to cost a fortune.

A good thing to remember is that the longevity of its use will be increased by letting the children own it...it's not your roadway it's theirs! Children's play relies heavily on their imagination and what they create might appear totally random to the eyes of an adult but make perfect sense to them. I mean mine once put a space jigsaw at the end of a railway track and said, 'That's where the trains go into space,' to my adult brain it was hilarious to theirs it was totally feasible! Basically there is no point being too particular, the road layout doesn't have to be a masterpiece. Eventually they’re going to figure out that if they pick at the edge of the masking tape they can pull the whole lot up and then your grand creation will be lost forever!!!

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