Play can create a safe environment for children to escape from worries. The global COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders were stressful events for young children and families. This case study documents children’s and parents’ play, emotions and coping strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey. Five mothers and their young children participated in our study, and we used the Parent Play Preferences Questionnaire (PPPQ), a semi-structured interview, and mother–child tasks for data collection in the Summer of 2020. Findings showed young children’s daily activities and play changed, and both mothers and children experienced various emotions. Children were aware of the precautions taken to protect themselves from COVID-19, and they attempted to keep the play characters safe in their play. Children reported missing friends, school, playgrounds and playing with others. Our study highlights the importance of parent–child conversations and play to cope with unexpected events in children’s lives and captures children’s voices in early childhood education research.