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!
TGIF and on Fridays lots of families prepare for weekend getaways. If your weekend involves travel with kids chances are you have things in the car for them to do. Here is an in case that is both fun and promotes all kinds of learning. Materials needed: 1 clipboard or plastic tray to hold paper, paper and pencils, markers or crayons–not wax crayons, tho; they melt in hot cars! Tell your child that it’s okay to copy down anything that looks interesting. It could be highway numbers, road signs, names, cool shapes and colors on billboards, licence numbers, pictures from trucks and vans, the shapes of buildings and houses, bridges, trains, rivers or lakes, letters, windows, things they see on ads to eat or wear or buy, whatevers.
Kids notice the oddest, tiny details, especially of things we would prefer that they didn’t see, which does prove that they are watching. Observing, naming, wondering, making connections, letters, numbers, shapes, colors, vocabulary, language, fine-motor skills, visual focussing, recording, and questioning are only some of the skills and strategies children use in this activity. This may only appeal for a few minutes but those minutes done a few different times add up to a whole lot of learning for a child. More deposits in their learning brain-bank accounts.
Could this be fun for your family?
Vacations often have little spaces of time to fill, especially when travelling. Whether it’s by bus or car, kids sometimes need something else to do. Years ago, I picked up a plastic covered clipboard at the dollar store with just a small paper holder. Though it was inexpensive it has been really valuable. One little activity was to draw 3 columns on a sheet of paper: one for red cars, one for blue cars and one for white cars, but any colors will work. We watched the cars and marked a tally line each time we saw a red, blue or white car. Although I thought the kids would only be interested for a few minutes, they really liked having a reason to watch the cars that passed. Often, a child will notice that there is another color that seems to be more popular, so a new sheet of paper is needed.
This also works when just standing by a window and checking the cars that go by. To make it easier, just 2 columns can be used, one for cars and one for trucks. Or use 4 or 5 columns for quick munchkins. The clipboard and paper can also be used for just drawing when needed. It also works when sitting on airport chairs and counting how many people are males or females. This may be a simple counting activity, but it also helps kids learn to focus and pay attention to what is happening around them, to sort and categorize, and to collect information. That’s a lot of skills for a paper, pencil and clipboard. Surprisingly, it’s even kind of fun. Happy counting!
Pardon the pun, but practicing numbers on a vacation just adds to the fun. No matter the age of your little ones, just pointing out all the places where there are numbers helps kids learn how important numbers are. Road numbers, prices on signs, hotel room doors, addresses, elevators, clocks, money and menus are just a few … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Vacation Numbers
June is summer! Well, almost. But with some schools already out and some counting down to vacation it’s alright to think about summer. No matter where and when your family is planning some holidays there are things that you can do that will help your little ones get ready for kindergarten come fall. Not just this … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – June=Summer