When it comes to hosting playdates, I admit I am unabashedly lazy. I can’t even be bothered to clean the house when it’s my turn, so we usually end up at the park with a grocery bag of boxed juice and pre-packed snacks. Yup, I just admitted that. Every once in a while, I do try to redeem myself with something fun for the kids, and sometimes fun is a loosely disguised lesson of some sort.
I had one of those shining moments not too long ago and treated the kids to a playdate party/lesson about Johnny Appleseed. We had apple everything and talked about Mr. Appleseed’s high points, like love for his fellow man and nature and what we could do to make the world a better place. At four, a loose structure is best because what they still really want to do most is run around the yard like crazy people—the attention span is short!
There are tons of former school teachers out there who plan playdates like this to perfection, but this is a loose guideline to plan a playdate to get the kids to learn something while having a good time.
1. Pick an enjoyable age-appropriate theme. A book, letter, color, state, country or a colorful historical character are all great possibilities.
2. Build a snack around the theme. Johnny Appleseed’s theme is fairly obvious, and if your theme’s snack doesn’t immediately jump out at you, you can always employ cookie cutters on sandwiches in a thematic shape to get your point across.
3. Plan one or two activities related to your theme. If it’s a playdate based on a book, read the book and do a craft. For Johnny Appleseed, we wrote our world changing ideas on apples and hung them in our apple trees.
4. Remember to allow lots of time for free play. Kids are little sponges and love soaking up knowledge, but they also have to be free to be themselves.