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  • Writer's pictureTeresa Thomas

50 Fun Things to Invite Play Into Our Lives

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

While we are sheltering in place, it's a good time to try out new things and fresh ways of being. Routines may be getting old. A childlike sense of play might be just what we need.

Recently, I've been trying out ways to foster social connection, idea-sharing, joy and hope online. On April 6, I facilitated a special version of 50 Fun Things® to Invite More Play Into Our Lives. Through a communal group-think process, participants shared ideas for play: boardgames, story-telling, crafting, using our imaginations... the possibilities are unlimited to maintain a playful, lighthearted attitude.

I'll start with a list I pulled together and then I'll share the list from the group

  • Wear playful accessories. I wore a brightly colored butterfly necklace the day we did this Facebook Live session.

  • Put a big stuffed animal in your window for children to see as they go for a walk with their families. Some people are doing this as part of neighborhood organized safaris and scavenger hunts.

  • Sidewalk chalk notes and pictures.

  • FaceTime with others while you play games, sing or dance together.

  • Make a hopscotch grid on sidewalk.

  • Use craft kits, make projects.

  • Skip (in your house if you feel too silly to do it outside).

  • Hula hoop.

  • Jumprope.

  • Trade boardgames (leave at front door for each other to practice distancing) .

  • Online games.

  • Give a backstory to your playing piece for board game.

  • Create/invent a game together for your family.

  • Select three mystery ingredients and make an online cooking challenge for your friends or for your family (inspired by ChopRoom team-building events).

  • Draw with your opposite hand, without looking or while looking at paper in a mirror.

  • Make signs and decorations for your windows and yard.

  • Make a fort.

  • Hammock.

  • Sit upside down or like a kid on your furniture.

  • Play crocodile with your chair cushions (don’t fall in the “water”!)

  • Make up a song or change the words to a song.

  • Write a story.

  • Write a poem.

  • Make a folded paper “fortune teller.”

  • Play old-fashioned hangman with your housemates with paper and pen.

  • Learn a new game.

  • Try changing to rules for an old game.

  • Play hide and seek with your dog.

  • Take photos from the perspective of a 4 year old. Get down to their level.

  • Watch a children’s show or movie.

  • Watch a cartoon you liked when you were a kid.

  • Let yourself get the giggles.

  • Check out lots of other simple fun ideas in my newly released book, Enjoy the Small Things. (Idea: Leave a care package or May Basket on someones door. Text or call them to let them know they have a surprise waiting for them. Include a copy of this sweet uplifting book along with some wrapped treats or a small bunch of flowers. If you are in the Twin Cities, MN area, email me at and I will be happy to take your order and deliver for you.)

This following list is compiled from participants in the Facebook Live. I kept the names of the people who contributed the ideas to give them credit. I also kept the wording how they shared it on the Facebook Live to provide a feel for what it was like to be in the Facebook Live session:

Lisa Metwaly Seven line poems. The last word of first sentence is first word of the next sentence. Fun to do alone or with others. Lisa Metwaly Writing daily what matters - gratitude- simplicity - friends and family. Kimbra Ness I have started to send hand written notes. Jeannette Grace Me too Kimbra. I needed to buy another roll of stamps today because I am getting low. Lisa Metwaly [Quarantine online] Dance party is a great idea! Kimbra Ness I put up some patio lights up now...actually white Christmas lights - they brighten my house.

Lisa Metwaly Expanding the garden and sharing garden stuff when we have the all clear.

Lisa Metwaly Painting my table and chairs white with chalk paint so I don’t need to sand. Jeannette Grace [Per idea of playing and spending time with our pets...]

Yes! Yes! Yes! Take Alejandro [the Bearded Dragon Lizard] for a walk! Sara Barnaby We have a hammock in our back yard. isa Metwaly My hammock is my happy place! Lisa Metwaly Cutting my own hair - watched a YouTube video to help me. Jeannette Grace Super brave! Kimbra Ness Yup - I cut by bangs...found a cowlick I hadn't seen since I was ten! Jeannette Grace Love the idea of taking photos through the eyes of a child! Jeannette Grace Decorate your face mask if you have to go out in public. Sara Barnaby Yes there are zoo cams in lots of places Lisa Metwaly Learning about new pathways to go bike riding. Lisa Metwaly I’m freezing baked goods to have people over when this is all done. Lisa Metwaly Free museums, film fests, cirque shows and make up lessons. Sara Barnaby Creating a junk journal. I have not done this yet. Jeannette Grace I am making word scrambles, crossword puzzles, and card-making kits and then sending them to kids and teens to do right now. Ruth Tongen Playing virtual Bingo. Can print free cards from here. I did it with a meetup group on Zoom where someone in the group actually called the numbers, had a happy hour, and there were prizes that will be sent to winners (repurposed from things people cleaned out of their house so no cost). Could maybe do the same thing in a neighborhood at the end of driveways.

Sara Barnaby Create items for your windows, pictures, etc then kids in the neighborhood can do scavenger hunts looking for items we put in windows. Kimbra Ness Now is the time to develop a time capsule for your grandchildren.... or a legacy/memory book Jeannette Grace Make shark hats and sing Baby Shark [for a little one via FaceTime] Jeannette Grace On Groupon they have scavenger hunts called Puzzling Adventures for different geographic locations. You also learn the history of the city. Amy Jauman Matthew McConaughey hosted a virtual Bingo game at a senior center. Alicia DeMario Baraga Our family always plays Trivial Pursuit at holidays. We're going to try to set up a virtual game on Easter. Sheri Bennefeld You can play games together on House Party Sara Barnaby People are using Zoom [to play board games together]

Ruth Tongen Setting up Zoom calls with two of my friends from different parts of the country who don't know each other so they can meet. Jeannette Grace Axe throwing at Flannel Jax's. Jeannette Grace Bubbles always make me happy and playful! Sara Barnaby Games you can dress up to play! When I promote our Witch Door Game based on Trick and Treating, I tell parents the kids can play while dressing up. This leads me to think about what other board games you could play dressed up. The Clue game, classic detective game, is a great choice to play in a dress up mode. The characters make it easy to have either easy or complex costumes from items you have around the house. because they are color based.

We've started a blog for our game-invention company, Anrias Games: Sheri Bennefeld My "neighbors" in the building across from us have huge signs in their windows. They say "HI!" etc. Jeannette Grace Have you ever dressed up in a prom dress and gone out to dinner with friends? (Not right now of course.) Dave Burgwald When my son was young, I got him started in a game we called Squigle. Squigle is a game where I would start and draw a line or a shape on the paper and have my son make a drawing from it. He would then draw a shape and challenge me to make a picture - it would then go back and forth. Kimbra Ness Try different cooking experiences. Instagram has a bunch through Food Network. Jeannette Grace [Put stuffed animals in a front window for families to see as they go for a walk.] The window is getting full! More giraffes! More giraffes! Marita E. Rahlenbeck I found my felt pad thing for puzzles. it keeps pieces in place and allows you to roll it up and not have to finish Amy Jauman Google Quick, Draw! is hilarious! You have 20 seconds to draw an item they give you (like a bike or a dog) with your computer mouse. Sheri Bennefeld Turn off the TV and play Cribbage. Marita E. Rahlenbeck I also brought in Upwords, a game I bought at a moving sale and never even looked at Jeannette Grace My husband plays Bejeweled ... all the time (his words). Sheri Bennefeld I love starting a game of Story Time with friends - normally a dinner table game - but taking it virtual has been fun too. Kimbra Ness Virtual Happy Hours!

[50 Fun Things] Happier hour- brilliant way to share joy! Jeannette Grace I wear my giraffe hat out in public ... often! Sara Barnaby Coloring is amazing for stress release.

I love coloring with markers or even crayons.

Play brings out laughter

Joy negates fear. It's impossible to feel both emotions at the same time. Ruth Tongen Play changes brain chemicals and in turn lowers inflammatory response, cardiac incidents, incidence of chronic conditions.

Research also shows that play supports our well-being, reduces stress, increases our brain function, skill-building, sense of connection and much more. How will you choose to invite more play into your life?

Ways you can help support 50 Fun Things® for connecting people to joy and each other to help us through these trying times:

  • If you would like to keep track of your favorite ideas on a 50 Fun Things® chart, you may download it here (just $5, print as many as you would like for your personal use).

  • Purchase the Enjoy the Small Things books or other 50 Fun Things® tools from These make great gifts.

  • Sponsor a 50 Fun Things Happier Hour

  • To contribute financially to my efforts, you may use Venmo to @Teresa-Thomas-36 or Paypal to

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me to ask for support in this mission of fostering connection to joy and fulfillment. If you would like to see the original Facebook Live for this session, click here. The next Facebook Live session will be 50 Fun Things to Lift Each Other Up. If you'd like to participate, pop onto the Facebook page for 50 Fun Things at 1pm CST on Tuesday, April 14.

Thank you, take good care and enjoy the small things in life,

Teresa Thomas

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