Sometimes a visit to the playground just won’t fit the day’s plan. Did you know you can turn your backyard into one? This is a project that can be done with your child and a friend or two that should take them some time. Materials needed are a fairly big box or two, a couple kitchen chairs, an old blanket and small, dark old towels. The old towels can be stepping stones, place them just far enough apart for jumping on a surface that won’t slip. The kitchen chairs covered with the old blanket can make a great tunnel for crawling through. It can also double as a fort. The box is for climbing into. Planning where things go, how to set them up and then playing in the ‘playground’ will keep them busy and out of trouble, maybe? Any other ideas for playground in the yard fun?
Playing in the playground is not just good for kids’ physical development, it’s also great for their social and emotional development. (Social and emotional can be thought of as two sides of the same coin, one side for how we get along with others and one side for how we manage our own selves. They are interwoven rather than separate.) Some children are reluctant and hesitant on the playground equipment, for example on the slide. After a few times, watching other children, feeling a little bit more secure, they conquer their own fears and venture down the slide.
A playground has opportunities for practicing social strategies. Asking other children their name and telling his/her own name is a beginning social skill. Adults may need to model this for younger kidlets. Learning to share the equipment is also part of the social scene. Shy children may simply need to become accustomed to having other children in the same space. Playgrounds are to kids what offices can be to adults. After all, playing is their work.
P.S. Please see previous blogs for lots of ideas to develop skills in other areas. Have you any others to suggest?
This week, either to take advantage of summer weather or to encourage the sun to supply some summer weather, playground time has been the topic. There are countless different ways of building on that playground time to expand children’s learning. When kids are little learning is fun and all the teachable minutes add up to a considerable total by the time they start school.
On the playground today take advantage of all the things that can be counted. How many steps up the slide? How many high are the monkey bars? Count how long it takes to slide down the slide, whee…1, 2, 3. If your child knows how to count, here are some thinking questions: do more fingers go down the slide or do more feet? how many swings do 3 people need to swing? Addition and subtraction can even be included. If there are only 3 swings, can 4 people swing? How many more swings would there need to be? If there are 5 alligators in the swamp by the slide and 2 more in the swamp by the swing, how many alligators are in the swamps? Parents and caregivers do not need to do more than just 2 or 3 of these at a time to make a significant difference. Out of 20 or so minutes at the playground a couple little activities are easy to squeeze in and from years and years of experience in the classroom I know it’s powerful. Just don’t get close enough to count alligator teeth!
Imagination is like any other skill. For some people it is easier than for others, but for all of us, it gets better with practice. A playground offers just as much opportunity for exercising the imagination as it does for exercising the body. The monkey bars can be a deep, dark jungle or an exciting … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Playground Fun #4
So far playground time has helped kids learn some basic reading skills-making connections between text and experience-and promoted physical development. That’s something to sing and swing about. Here’s a simple song that uses the Mulberry Bush tune: This is the way we swing on the swing, swing on the swing, swing on the swing. This … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Playground Fun #3
Yes, fun at the playground can even help build prereading muscles. This is a simple and appealing book for preschool and kindergarten kids. Maisy, the mouse, goes to the playground and has fun, of course. At home, you can read what Maisy does and then go off a playground and do those things, too. Talking … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Playground Fun #2
Time at the playground is more than working off energy. Lots of learning happens in this space. On the swing, even if your child doesn’t yet know how, the back and forth motion is a basic rhythm. It’s also a simple pattern. The slide is a physical experience of opposites, up/ down. Think of all the … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Playground Fun #1
Tomorrow, is Father’s Day. Several children in my kindergarten class live in a different house than their dad or have minimal contact. Even at this young age some of them have lost their dad. The issue of Father’s day and Father’s day cards and gifts has to be handled with sensitivity, just as Mother’s day does. … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Father’s Day
Parents’ trash can be kids’ treasure. Children can make a treasure out of almost anything, but whatever it is can be the start of a collection. And collecting is another way to build readiness skills. The most obvious one is categorizing: to what group do all these things belong? Another is sorting, for instance, these … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Collections
The headline in the paper said “The Hoop Is Back”. The reporter interviewed Sadie Yancey from Virginia and Toronto and she talked about the increasing popularity of hula hoops and their health benefits combined with fun. A hula hoop is a great idea for kids. Learning to hula with one can be tricky but kids can also roll it … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Hoop it Up