ul li {list-style-image: none;list-style-type: none;display:inline;} -->

The Open School of Creative Arts

The Open School of Creative Arts
Click here to go to our new site full of creative art activities

15 Play Ideas to Help Children Calm Down and Relax

At this time of year, when its often difficult to get outside for a good run around, and when the grey weather and dark evenings seem to lead to a concentrated manic energy inside, bad moods, unsettled tempers and emotional meltdowns seem a common problem in many households... 

It definitely occurs in our house. Jake is a very sensitive little boy, coupled with an enormous amount of physical and mental energy and at times early evenings can become filled with mini meltdowns, hyperactivity, silliness and tantrums, which generally lead on to a difficult bedtime. So tonight, as I reflect upon our day Im trying to put together a better plan for the next few winter months, including more intensive interaction, more inside physical play and some calm down activities that actually engage him. It seems like a good starting point to produce a round up of play ideas and activities that aid relaxation and have therapeutic benefits (to children and parents). 

1. Lets start off with Five Playful Tools for Calm Down Time from the wonderful make, do & friend. I especially like the zen garden sensory tub. 

2. Use Pretend Play to Conquer Fears from MamaSmiles reminds me that simple pretend play can be a great way to connect, chill out and work through any anxieties that might be causing emotional outbursts. 

3. Our own Sensory Balloons and Stress Balls - I recently made some new sensory balloons and the whole process of making them and exploring them is really therapeutic. 

4. This simple but effective 54321 Relaxation Technique from PlayDrMom

5. Also from PlayDrMom are these Make Your Own Worry Dolls - these would be great for older children as well as toddlers. 

6. This makes me relax just looking at it... a Bedtime Sensory Tub; Lavender Dyed Rice from NurtureStore 

8.Lavender Play Dough, and... 

10. This Breathing Through the Tears idea from Little Moments is a great calm down tool for tantrums, but also for some lovely imaginative play too. 

11. Making and exploring sensory bottles is a great chill out activity; I really like this Ocean Chill Out Bottles from Small Potatoes

12. This Mommy Meltdown Basket from my friend over at Connecting Family & Seoul is just wonderful, and definitely a fantastic idea to have one or two of these made up ready for 'one of those days'
13. My guest post on Not Just Cute talked about Creating a Quiet Space for Children and is something I recommend; we don't use our own quiet space enough. 

14. Water Play Indoors that The Wonder Years shows so well is a great idea too, dont worry about the mess and do it in the bath!

15. The Calm Down Jar you have probably seen all over Pinterest - Its lovely, and easy; you need glitter glue, glitter, water and a clear bottle or jar. Once shaken the glitter will slowly fall to the bottom, you and your little ball of energy can take a few moments out to gaze at it.... 

This topic is something I am definitely going to be exploring more, so Id love to hear your own ideas and look out for more of my own... 

Stay updated with all the latest from Creative Playhouse: 


  1. These are all so lovely...a wonderful list! :)

  2. This is such a great and helpful post! Thanks so much for including a couple of my ideas! -PlayDrMom

  3. thanks for including a few of mine! A great resource for tired mamas

  4. This post is wonderful! My sensitive kiddos will benefit from your tips!Thanks for including our pretend play solution. We'll be making your stress balls, and I'm pinning this to my parenting board!

  5. What an amazing round up with such a variety of ideas.

  6. Wow! Thanks for including the breathing technique! This round-up is honestly one of my new top faves, perfect for holiday de-stressing ;)

  7. THanks so much for all your comments :D

  8. will be adding this list to Sunday Surf TY!

  9. I so need this right now! 4 yr-old and 10 mo-old combo makes for a stressed out Mommy. I am seriously bookmarking and doing as many of these as I can, post-haste. Thank you!

  10. Wonderful ideas! I find sensory bottles and bins work great for my toddler. I would love to share my ideas too from my blog. :)

  11. I have purchased a nighty night balm made by Badger Balm, it's has natural ingredients with chamomile and lavender, I rub it on my sons temples and forehead at bed time to soothe him, he usually has a hard time falling asleep. This has done wonders for helping him relax completely. I will try some of these other ideas to use through the day when needed.

  12. Exercise calms anxiety, increases confidence long-term. Exercise leads to the creation of excitable brain cells, but it also creates neurons that can quiet parts of the brain and counter everyday stress.
    Relax-V | Herbal Anxiety Supplements


09 10