Bring Your Kids To Work: DIY Pretend Play Office At Home

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If your kids are keen to come into your office while you work from home, create a play office of their own, so you can get on in peace.

The play office could be somewhere to play, or for them to do some school work while you try to complete your own tasks. if you have some toy office tools to use that's great, but we have some ideas for making your own, with things you can find around the home.

Children learn from roleplaying. Lots of kids have parents who work in offices and yet don't really know what happens there. Unlike playing at shop or being a doctor, we rarely take kids to the office so this is a great opportunity to help them enjoy this sort of dramatic play and learn more about what you do. We have lots more roleplay ideas for you.

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Make it official

Do you remember on your first day in the office when you had to go to HR or the post room to get your photo taken for your ID? Recreate the experience by taking a mugshot of your child (preferably when they are talking, making an odd face, or looking sideways, so it's like a real ID photo!), print out and then laminate it or cover in clingfilm, before putting into a homemade lanyard. An envelope with a window for the photo would do the job - make a lanyard from some ribbon or tape.

Then they'll need a card to get them through the door - find an old gift card or store card that they can use as a swipe card to get into the play area.

Child playing office

Set up the technology

Every office worker needs a phone - ideally you have an old mobile or play phone that they can use.  Otherwise, create one using some card, covered in foil, with some keys drawn on with a permanent marker.  Give them some ideas about who to call to encourage imaginative play.

You can make a laptop in a similar way.  Take two pieces of card - about the same size and shape as the base and screen of a laptop. Wrap both together in tinfoil - you can use a gluestick to help it stick.  You should now be able to fold the two halves so it looks like a laptop. Next, print out a picture of your own laptop desktop, and a picture of a keyboard and glue in the appropriate places. Take two 3in strips of card and stick over the fold on either side, so that when you open the lid it stays standing up. Print out a logo for the top of a lid and you're done. These pretend office tools are just what you need to encourage pretend play.

If you want to go old school, dig out an old typewriter from the attic. Kids love being able to bash away at the keys! One of them can pretend to be the boss dictating a letter to their secretary.

A calculator is also handy on a desk - the big desk ones are great, but any will do. Give them some old receipts so that they can add up the numbers. (handy hint - if you are self-employed, dig out that huge box of receipts for the last tax year and you can get the kids to add up all your expenses for you!).

The rest of the desk

They'll need an in/out tray - a seed tray is good. Or a shallow cardboard box. Find a pot for pens and pencils - or use a cutlery organiser from the kitchen drawer. Then create a stamp. There is nothing more satisfying than stamping a bit of paper! It's one of our favourite pretend play activities. It could say passed, sold, done, their name - whatever you like. Use a rubber and carve out the word using a craft knife. Don't forget it needs to be back to front. Then use a strong glue to stick it to a small block of wood. They can use an inkpad or some paint, or just colour over the rubber with a marker.

Desks also need a nice plant (Find some lovely ideas for crafting flowers in our blog), a family photo - and of course, everyone needs their own office coffee mug!

Water station

Every good office has a water station, kitchen or snack machine. Supply some water bottles, biscuits and cups. Encourage dramatic play by starting off some office chat and gossip at the water cooler area! We love this tutorial, which shows you how to make a fully-working snack machine.

Photocopier/scanner

You'll need another cardboard box for this. Cut the lid off the box, and turn the box over. Cover the box with some paper - brown wrapping paper would be great. Take the lid and tape it together if it is in two parts. Wrap with paper. Them attach to the box using some 'hinges' made from strips of card. Draw or print some buttons - scan, print, copy and so on - to finish it off. Cut out a slot on the side for the paper to come out of, and add a tray to the side to collect the sheets.

Paperwork

Find lots of scrap paper and old envelopes. The children can write letters or draw pictures, and fold them and put them into the envelopes. Use some stickers as stamps. Don't forget to write the addresses on the outside. Another thing that kids love to do is staple things together. Let them loose with a stapler if you think they will be safe with one.  They can also have a hole punch and paper clips. Post-it notes are always well received.

Noticeboard

Create an office noticeboard from an old corkboard. They can stick notices, posters, photos and memos on it. If you don't have one, use a rectangle of cardboard and cover with some material. Stick some elastic across in a criss-cross pattern and they can tuck their bits of paper underneath.

Breakout area

Every trendy office has a breakout area where staff can get together to have creative sessions. They are usually quite informal, so it could consist of a couple of bean bags. Put some magazines and comics, crayons and paper in the middle on a small table or stool.

Child playing on computer

Filing

Take a plastic or card storage box and divide using some sheets of thin card. Write the letters of the alphabet on them - you won't want 26, so have A-F, G-L and so on - and then they can file away to their heart's content. You could also gather some old cardboard envelope folders or box folders to act as a filing area. You could also stick some envelopes to the wall (use Blu-tac if you want to avoid damage) and use these for filing, as in/out areas and so on.

Planning ahead

Stick up an old year planner or calendar, or find an old desk diary so that they can write in appointments. A whiteboard is always a useful addition if you have one. They can draw a graph showing how sales are going - let's hope it's always on an upward path!

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things, that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents. 

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it's important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.  

Kidadl provides inspiration for everything from family days out to online classes, arts, crafts and science experiments. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong. 

We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.

Naomi MacKay
Mum of one

Mum of one teenage boy, near Leighton Buzzard, Beds. Born and raised in the Home Counties, Naomi has explored much of London, along with Beds, Herts and Bucks, with her son and husband. When she’s not driving to various skateparks around the UK, Naomi loves finding somewhere new to explore or a new activity they can all try.