fun learning activities
Water Play is a wonderful joy for most children; enjoy it at bath-time year-round, or use a small dish of water or even a pool outdoors on a summer day. Keep a careful watch on the children if they are in water deeper than an inch! They’ll enjoy plastic spoons, pitchers, squeezy toys, sponges, and containers of all sizes. Keep the room warm and stay near while the little ones splash, squeeze, pour, and enjoy.
What’s Hiding? A plastic reclosable container about the size of a loaf of bread can be a wonderful reusable toy. Fill it with rice, cornmeal, or sand; then bury and hide ten small child-safe toys or implements in it. Using a timer, give each child a minute to search for the toys. Keep taking turns until all ten items have been recovered; then allow free play with the toys. On another day, add various sizes of plastic spoons, pitchers, a funnel, a strainer, and containers. Lead the children into exploring the best ways to pour from one container to another.
Rolling Wheels Most children enjoy rolling toys (such as cars, balls, or animals on wheels, etc.) To make it even more fun, lean a board against a step to form a ramp. Your children will spend hours racing toys down the ramp while you water the garden or mow the lawn. Provide empty cans or containers, ribbon spools, and so forth; basically, anything that will roll will be fine.
Fun with Tracing Provide a dull pencil and tracing paper (but no crayons) with some basic shapes (circle, square, triangle, etc.) drawn darkly on white paper; have them trace these simple shapes at first (circle, square, etc.). Then have them enhance the circle by turning it into a drawing of a face or turning the square into a house. Finally, let them color their drawing. Once they are successful at drawing simple shapes, coloring books provide great tracing opportunities. Be sure to praise their efforts, use of colors, good tracing skills, original ideas, etc.
Spelling Game Glue a small picture (dog, cat, tree, box, book, etc.) to a 4" x 6" index card. The use of stickers simplifies this greatly! Use a dark permanent marker to print the word for the picture (in lowercase letters) beneath it. Have your child use (magnetic, block, sponge, stamp, etc.) letters to spell the word that you have written.
Matching Words Use the picture cards with words (#6). Print the same word again on an additional card. Have your child match the word card to the picture/word card. With this simple game, he is getting ready to read!
Jump the Rope Lay a rope on the ground and have the children take turns jumping over it. Alternately, use two ropes and move them farther and farther apart.
In and Out Obtain a hula-hoop for each child and show them how to jump in and out of it. Later use it as a “safe space” for the child to sit in while playing or listening.
Make a Face Use a safe mirror; make a sad (happy, scared, surprised, pleased, angry, etc.) face and encourage your little ones to put the same “feeling on their face.” Talk about how the emotions feel.
Dominoes are wonderful learning tools. Your youngest children can line up dominoes and watch as they fall in a synchronized fashion. Older ones can match them by color or number. School-age children will enjoy adding (or even multiplying) the dots on each side and writing the number sentence (like 2 + 3 = 5) represented by one domino.