Raid the trash and recycle bins for building materials! It is guaranteed to provide novelty and inspire innovation in play. Plan to spend some time together sorting and choosing the most interesting or the sturdiest or the most beautiful or the most whatever you and your children choose for limitations. There are many executive functions that come online for these tasks. I used to have three ramps that were salvaged from a broken toy that I would offer alongside cardboard, tape, and a bowl of golf balls someone gave me. Depending on the age of the children I might challenge them to make a design before getting started. Transforming a two dimensional plan into a three dimensional structure is a sophisticated process.
And this is really important: Try to refrain from taking over the design or building process – learning through play is about testing theories and being allowed to figure out which ones prove themselves to be true and which ones are a flop. Stay nearby and see if you can figure out what theory your child or children are testing by watching quietly. Example: “Does the ball go faster if the top of the ramp is this high or that high?” Snap a photo when your children are deeply engaged in their work. If they seem to be losing steam or giving up then it’s a great time to join in. Maybe it’s time to revisit the design? Maybe it’s time to revisit the recycle bin for reinforcement? Play and experiment together.
Let us know how it goes!