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Structured Play

If you’ve ever spent a summer in Arizona, then you know how hot and miserable it is outside. So hot that outdoor play is not the best option and keeping kids cooped up inside for the day can make time move really, really, slowly.


This is when a structured activity can save the day for a bored kiddo and stressed-out caregiver.

My husband building a hedgehog robot with our son, Easton.

What is structured play?

Structured play is goal oriented and involves following steps to reach a desired outcome. This kind of play might include board games, sports, or activities that require following directions to build or create something. This type of play helps build confidence and resilience. It also encourages strong communication and teamwork skills.  

Our son Easton is growing from a toddler to preschooler and adding more structured play has helped expand his attention span and ability to follow directions. As these skills develop, he’s able to engage in more board games and more robot building. I love seeing his confidence increase as he completes structured tasks. 

Are you starting to add structured activities to your little one’s playtime or ready to challenge an older kiddo with something new? Here are a few ideas:

The Tumbling Hedgehog

This Thames and Kosmos toy comes with a lot of tiny pieces that are assembled to create a clap-responsive tumbling robot that will wow you and your kids. The directions include detailed images and make the building process fun. While this toy is not meant for three-year-olds (and my husband did most of the building) my little guy watched intently, helped hand his dad tools and absorbed the process. For the 3-6 year-old age group, plan on being an adult robot builder with a little kid sidekick. For kids in the 7-10 year-old age group, they can be more hands on but might need some gentle prompting. Kids 10-years-old and up will enjoy working on this awesome robot on their own.

The Dough Circuit Piano

For a structured science toy, this one is perfect. Kids as young as four years old can follow directions to create circuits using modeling dough and play their piano. The kit includes cue cards for simple songs to play on their creation.  You’ll want to supervise, but this activity is a lot more straightforward than my prickly robot friend above. 

Yarn Tree

Craft kits are great for structured play. This kit guides kids to make their own yarn tree to hang jewelry or other bangles. The kit includes all the supplies and directions needed to create a vibrant tree. I recommend this craft for kids aged 10+ because it can be done independently, though younger kids could do this with an adult’s help.

Need more structured play ideas?

Reach out to us at or in-store and we’ll be happy to help you find the perfect toy.