To help me get more creative, I signed up for Productive Parenting emails that give me age-specific activities to do with my one-and-a-half-year old. I was a bit disappointed, but also relieved when I started receiving the activity recommendations--things like read a book, make a fort, put objects in a bucket--things I was already doing!
It helped me realize that children's activities don't have to be well thought out, formal or elaborate. They can be improvised and include exposing, explaining and allowing your child to have everyday experiences. They may include parent-child interaction, but also allow plenty of room for solo play. They allow your child to learn through doing.
Mama D, Mama Q and I saw this in action when we recently took our girls to a "discovery" museum, where they pretty much played in a kid-sized town for hours. Maya, Lucy and Olive were thrilled to play pretend, interact with or observe the other kids, and try new toys.
There really wasn't anything super fancy about the place--it was just a new setting with lots of objects for the girls to experience. For the most part, we mamas just sat back and watched, letting the girls' imaginations run wild. It was a good reminder that everyday play goes a long way and that it's simpler than many of us think to help our kiddos learn.