Whether you’re nannying part-time or full-time, with 1 kid or 3, you have a direct impact on the person they’ll become. When parents know that their children are learning and having fun while in your care, they know they’re making the most of their time away. Learning through play may not be a familiar phrase to you, but it’s a great way to turn everyday playful activities into developmental milestones for the little ones in your care.

What is Learning Through Play?

Rather than an intentional lesson with a learned outcome, think about all of the fun, routine things you do with your nanny kids each day. A playful 20-minute trip to the park can teach a child so many cool and memorable things, such as the types of trees and animals in their neighborhood, silly songs to sing to pass the time, or the direction of the sun as it sets.

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Learning Through Play Activity Ideas

Creating the right environment is essential for fostering social cues, distinguishing right from wrong, and bringing out the gifts that are naturally in all of us. Here are some suggestions for easy, economical, and educational activities—including brain-building toys and familiar places that can help develop your little ones to be confident, happy, and responsible citizens of the future.

1. Create A Sensory Table

Fill with different materials, textures, grains, stones—use your imagination!


  • Builds nerve connections in the brain helping develop short- and long-term memory.
  • Encourages the development of motor skills.
  • Supports language development.
  • Placement/displacement encourages ‘scientific thinking’ and problem solving.
  • Encourages sharing during playdates.

2. Art Table

Keep their watercolors, crayons, and paper handy and in one place.


  • Promotes creativity while practicing color and shape recognition.
  • Encourages neural connections for critical thinking.
  • Builds fine motor skills required for later ages & grades.
  • Develops problem-solving abilities.
  • Scribbling is a precursor to writing.

3. Create A Book Nook

Having your very own reading nook gives you a quiet space to relax and de-stress.


  • Exercises in imagination.
  • Improved vocabulary for improved language.
  • Improved spelling for early readers.
  • Fuels a greater desire to read and create stories.
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4. Build With Blocks

Classic, yet tried and true.


  • Hand-eye coordination from focused placement.
  • Teaches kids early math and engineering skills through hands-on learning.
  • Feeling objects for muscle memory.
  • Learning geometric shapes.
  • Spatial awareness helps with balance.
  • Improves fine motor skills.
  • Moving and toppling blocks teach cause and effect.

5. The Playground

Kids are too busy having fun to realize all that they learn at the playground.


  • Improved flexibility and balance.
  • Development of overall motor skills, dexterity, and hand-eye coordination.
  • Opportunities to learn how to control their movement.
  • Improved instincts.
  • Promotion of healthy heart and lung function.
  • Stronger muscles.
  • Improved immune function.
  • Getting along.
  • Agreeing on rules and cooperating.
  • Taking turns and patience.
  • Resolving conflict.
  • Overcoming shyness.
  • Sharing and friendship.
  • Accepting diversity as they meet children of all ages and backgrounds.
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6. Take A Nature Hike

Exploring the outdoors offers great stimulation.


  • A great form of exercise.
  • Builds self-confidence.
  • Encourages them to appreciate nature.
  • Allows everyone to unplug

7. Dine Out At A Casual Restaurant

So much can be learned in an unfamiliar social environment.


  • Helps diversify taste and preference, especially for children who struggle
    with picky eating.
  • Places value on family time.
  • Observing and creating traditions can be fun.
  • Improve social skills with games that practice manners and sitting still.

Adding just one new learning through play activity to your daily routine can help your child reach new milestones and improve self-awareness. Parents will appreciate seeing any gradual progress you can track along the way. Also, include these accomplishments in your resume—potential employers may be more eager to hire someone who can achieve similar results for their own children.

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