• Caitlin Watson

Imaginative play with hobble belts

Do you need some children’s play ideas? Sometimes you don’t have time to pack a trailer load of toys and equipment for children’s entertainment. Belts can be used in a wide variety of children’s imaginative and physical play across age groups, and are easily stored for travel on children’s pants. If you are questioning how to use belts to spark children’s pretend play, never fear!

While you may use a belt primarily for its functionality in ensuring your pants do not drop to your ankles, belts have always served a variety of needs. Besides holding up pants, they can hold tools, symbolise cultural groups and, of course, address fashion desires. Another use of the humble belt is to create children's imaginative play scenes.

To help you out, I have created a list of games for you and your child. Some are intensive imaginative play while others just use physical skills. Simply adjust as needed for different age groups. While any belt you or your children have can be used, I suggest purchasing a kids hobble belt from my store for more play options!

Ideas for games: Children love imitating their parents and other close adults. The most obvious imaginative play using belts for bush kids is pretend games catching animals:

🐐 Pretend to muster “goats” (or other beasts) and tie up the ones that keep breaking away.

🐗 Play pig hunting, tie up “pigs”.

🐴 Play horses : use the belt for hobbles, reins or a halter rope.

🐕 Use the belt to pretend to walk dogs (or other animals), tie them up, etc.

Play troopers and bush-rangers, use the belt to secure prisoners, secure objects when "transporting" them between "campsites", etc.

It should go without saying, please supervise children who are playing at tying each other up, or animals, with a belt to ensure they do not inadvertently harm each other.

Encourage children to make their own buckles, using cardboard and craft items, to add to the belt. They can award each other the buckles while pretend playing rodeos, etc.

Young children will love learning to do up the buckles on my hobble belts which also have a buckle on the pocket knife pouch. You can also hide small objects in the pouch for toddlers to discover.

Play “fly”. Set up many small obstacles, such as belts and shoes, a small distance apart (appropriate for the age of the children). The children all jump/leap into the space between the obstacles, landing only once between each obstacle. After all children have successfully jumped through, one child may remove an obstacle (to make the jump bigger). Eventually the gaps will be too big to only jump once. Once no one can make it through, re-start the game.

Play skipping style games by swinging the belt on the ground: One person swings a rope low to the ground and thinks of a colour. All other participants sing: “crocodile, crocodile may we cross the river, if not, why not, what’s your favourite colour?” They then jump over the belt and yell out a colour. Once the colour has been guessed, the person who correctly guessed (and jumps the belt) then swings the belt.

Helicopter: the children all stand outside the radius of a circle made by swinging the belt around your body. Swing the belt around your head and sing: helicopter, helicopter over my head. I call a colour and the colour is…” then lower the rope so it is just above the ground while you sing it around. Anyone wearing the colour called then runs forward and jumps over the belt.

While one persons swings the rope over the ground, another child holds a cup of water and jumps over the belt for a predetermined amount of time (ie: while a nursery rhyme is sung). Each child has a turn with their own cup of water. Once they have all had a turn, compare water levels.

Sing songs while children jump over the belt (and act out the rhymes if possible):

Teddy bear, teddy bear touch the ground.

Teddy bear, teddy bear show your shoe.

Teddy bear, teddy bear, that will do.

Teddy bear, teddy bear, go up-stairs.

Teddy bear, teddy bear, say your prayers.

Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn out the lights.

Teddy bear, teddy bear, say good night.

I’m a little dutch girl dressed in blue,

Here are the things I like to do:

Salute to the captain

Bow to the queen

Turn my back on the submarine

I can do a tap dance

I can do the splits

I can do the hokey pokey

Just like this!

Double dutch: make any of the above jumping games more difficult by adding a second belt!

Encourage your child to use their belt as a tool:

Use it to secure items, ie: strap items in a toy trolley or in a basket on their push bike.

Add extra holders and pouches to the belt for tools, snacks, etc appropriate for their age, ie: garden

secateurs, pliers.

Do you have more ideas? Leave them in a comment below for other parents to use as well.

My genuine leather hobble belts can be purchased for a low $30 plus postage from 56cm to 87cm. They have nine holes to grow with your child, and the generous spacing between holes (2.5cm) means there is plenty of room to add extra sizes as needed. These belt lengths will fit from toddlers to petite adults. Click on the link to purchase yours now!


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