One way to help parents and kids both think of what to do is to make a What Can We Do Can, and put strips of paper with ideas to draw from.
Kids enjoy choosing, and this gives them a way to choose things that parents can feel happy about.
Alternatively, you can make choosing bags. I made mine reversible. You can use a music themed one for music options, and similarly for art, games and other activities . . .
You can have bins or cubbies for different types of activities, such as outdoor, air, water, wipe off books, etc. If you want to focus on different topics, you can put those kinds of books in the day's bag of books, or have a library book bag to keep them where they are easy to find to return.
Put the right number of fishie crackers in each net.
Various learning toys for various ages---toys can help kids learn about how the world works (science/physics), spatial relativity, coordination, beside shapes and colors.
This ball game is pretty noisy, so you may want to limit the time or room it is used in.
This letter game is magnetic, which is fascinating to kids, and is appropriate for a wide range of ages. Letters are large enough not to be so easily swallowed (though they do have magnets that could potentially come loose) … from learning colors, shapes of the letters (which could be compared), which way do they go right side up? Name the letters, or the letter sounds, to beginning to spell/read small words--phonetic and sight words, names of family members, or the family's last name . . . Switch the letters around and see how mat and map are similar, pat and tap . . .
Push the kitty down, then pop it up with the button.
Kids love dress up--and not just girls---you can use it to explore jobs, interests, roles, story telling and performance. singing time, celebration of holidays or ancestors, or just fun unstructured fun.
Dolls, dishes, and stuffed animals, puppets and flannel board stories all encourage these same skills and imagination/creativity. Play school, restaurant, zoo or farm . . . kids can come with all kinds of ideas.
A big box can be a check-out stand for playing store, an Ark for Noah and animals, a hide away for flashlight fun, a box for Jack (or Jill) to jump out of when the music stops, a bus whose wheels go round and round (we can pretend), a puppet stage, a car wash . . . you know the story: give your young one a gift, and s/he would rather play with the box. :-)
Mermaid skirt, netting tutu, rainbow silkie cape . . .
Hats for every season, every reason.
Count & Compare
Big & Little, ears of different shapes, 2 littler dogs & one bigger dog, goose feathers vs fur . . .
Puppets & Masks
Let children give voice to different ideas in an emotionally safe mode.
Peopling the Play
Figures and accoutrements
of all kinds.
Fish can be fabric, paper, felt, vinyl, etc. Fishing with or without pole.
Coloring books, cookie cutters, online line drawings can provide patterns.
Patterns for the activity books above are found under their particular categories. Below, things to explore.
More ideas for things to do under Going category.
Below: Mother Goose magnified (by ST), and a perennial parent favorite--handprints. Blue ones done in 1951 by a 6 yr old RMT, a red one by LMG for grandpa, and a white one grandma kept, and one from dear little granddaughter. Salt dough unfortunately won't last 70 years. Kids also love to see how they have grown.