first of all, my kids are TWO and THREE. every thing i've read (like here), especially through charlotte mason homeschooling curriculum, says to just let the kids that age play. there is no curriculum for them yet because they are just supposed to use their senses and explore on their own. this is hard for me. i feel like i'm not really doing anything for them if we don't have an organized activity and then i get upset if an organized activity doesn't go the way the pinterest picture portrays. and then i realized, that i'm trying to distract them instead of interact with them. being engaged in anything really for five minutes is much better than the struggle and frustration to distract them for ten.
for nursery party, don't confuse "free play" with a "lack of schedule." that is a common misconception and feels like it's easier for a nursery leader to just let the kids play for two hours. first of all, that defeats the purpose of nursery, learning the gospel of Christ. second, kids that age in a nursery setting need a schedule. not a rigorous schedule where they are constantly busy, but a schedule to help them feel like they know what is going on, so they know what to expect and can be more helpful. third, it keeps your sanity as a leader. you aren't trying to make up activities when the kids finally get tired of playing with toys. and fourth, it gets them ready for sunbeams. if the kids don't learn how to sit through a lesson (or the concept of sitting, cause getting a bunch of toddlers to "sit" through a lesson is rough but at least they are learning the principle!), or sit through singing time, it makes life more chaotic for the sunbeam teachers and up and up and up.
it really starts in the nursery!!
here are some fun, motor skill building, interactive toys (for cheap!) for the kids that i love: