starting a supertots' playgroup
From Superkids by Jean Marzollo - Illustrations by Irene Trivas


Starting a Supertots' Playgroup

When my first son was one, he belonged to a playgroup organized by parents who met each other during the summer in a city park. When fall came and the weather grew too cold for outdoor play, we decided to rent a room at the "Y" and take turns watching the children each weekday morning. The hours were from 9 :30 to 11 :30, and there were always enough familiar mothers and fathers around so that the children felt secure. They liked it; so did the parents.

When my son was two, he played each morning for two hours in a church basement with thirteen other children, several parents, and a teacher. He liked that too. In both cases there were interesting toys, safe equipment, warm adults, and a casual yet organized spirit. It was out of this experience that I saw how much parents and children can benefit from playgroups. There is no perfect way to run one, but some suggestions are given that may start you off in the right direction.

supertot playgroup

Starting a playgroup in your own homes

If you and some friends are interested in starting a supertots' playgroup, you will probably want to meet to talk about various ideas. Start out with the assumption that all parents are different, and stick to practical considerations, since philosophical discussions about child rearing are apt to end up in pitched battles.

Goals: discuss your goals briefly. Two recommended goals are: that the children enjoy themselves and that the children are always safe from physical harm.

Safety: discuss safety. Each home should be prepared ahead of time for having a number of supertots playing there. Electrical outlets should be covered; electrical cords should be hidden; detergents and medicines should be put away; stairs and low windows should be protected; tools and other dangerous objects should be out of reach. Outside play areas should be restricted so that dangerous places are out of the children's roaming limits.
Size: three to eight children are recommended to start with. Don't start big.

Parent/child ratio: discuss the ratio you want between children and parents. Much depends on the age of the children and the suitability of the homes. You might want to start with one parent per two or three children and then see whether you need more or less.

Daily schedule: discuss a comfortable schedule that each parent can loosely follow so that the children will know what to expect each day.

The following schedule is for a morning playgroup of two-year-olds. Adapt it for another time period or different age group, as you wish. The schedule is intended only to get you started; make changes to suit yourself and the children. Before the children come to your house, put away toys your child can't stand to share. Then separate the others into two boxes.

..9:00 A.M. Children arrive. Free play with first box of toys.
..9:30 A.M. Simple art activity for those children who wish to participate. Have children help you clean up
10:00 A.M. Snack, followed by quiet singing and fingerplay chants while still seated. If some of the children get up and resume playing with toys, that's okay.
10:30 A.M. Free play with the second box of toys. Put away unused toys from first box.
11:00 A.M. Parents come to see their children and play with them for a while. Last activity: everyone plays Ring-Around-the-Rosie a few times.
11:30 A.M. Parents and children leave. Playgroup over.


Activities that one-and-a-half-year-olds can do together

Play together separately

Young supertots play separately while enjoying each other's company. Occasionally you have to referee when two of them go after the same toy. Best strategy: distract one of them with another toy.

Have snack together

Serve things that don't get too messy: raisins, hard crackers, bananas, apple slices, juice in cups and bottles. (Parents should bring the child's cup or bottle when the child arrives.) After snack, play Patty-Cake together.

Play Ring-Around-the-Rosie

This is a good activity for all the children and all the parents to play together. Some children may not want to play; don't force them.

Play Night-Night together

Give each one a pillow or cloth diaper to snuggle with.




Activities that two-year-olds can do together

Everything that one-and-a-half-years-olds can do plus:

Learn to jump off an old tire, and color together on a big sheet of paper.




Slide together and walk on a balance board.



Help you clean up after snack.



Activities that two-and-a-half-year-olds can do together

Play ball together



Climb on a low climbing structure (Be sure the children are properly supervised, and the the climbing apparatus is safe.)

Learn each other's names and talk about what everyone is wearing.

Cut paper into scraps and paste down the scraps to make a collage. (This activity works best if the children are seated on comfortable chairs at a comfortable table.)




  CLICK HERE for Chapter Eleven: Going Places Together  

Based on the book SUPERTOT: Creative Learning Activities for Children One to Three
and Sympathetic Advice for Their Parents
Text © Jean Marzollo, Illustrations © Irene Trivas

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