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Archive for the ‘Play’ Category

Beach Scavenger Hunt

The beach is a perfect stage for playful learning. You can develop a scavenger hunt for your family to enjoy at the beach. You may decide to see how many items you can each check off in one day or consider extending the hunt for the length of your trip.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • a blue beach towel
  • pink sandals
  • a kite
  • a beach ball
  • a sand castle
  • a sail boat
  • a jet ski
  • a seagull
  • a green bathing suit
  • a dog
  • seaweed
  • a striped beach towel
  • a beach umbrella
  • a blimp
  • an airplane
  • a shell

You can alter your list depending on where you are vacationing and what items are age appropriate for your child. The possibilities are endless!

Bean and Cheese Tacos

Looking for a quick and easy dinner idea?

Ingredients

  • 15-oz can of pinto beans, rinsed
  • 15-oz can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup mild salsa
  • 1 heart of romaine lettuce
  • Taco shells (hard or soft)
  • Low-fat shredded cheddar cheese

Combine beans and salsa in a microwave-safe bowl, then heat 1 to 2 minutes or until hot. Tear the lettuce into bite-size pieces. Spoon the bean mixture into each taco shell, top with lettuce and cheese.

 

*An adult should oversee all recipes and activities. Recipes and activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

Four Ways to Encourage Physical Activity

Physical activity and exercise are essential to your child’s development. Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board, offers four tips on how to encourage physical activity.

  1. Start with yourself. Set an example by being physically active, personally and with your child, and talking about how it helps you feel and think better.
  2. Encourage your child to pick activities that she finds fun, and then suggest activities that add something to it.
  3. Whenever possible walk or ride (a bike or scooter, while wearing a helmet, of course) when you need to get somewhere nearby. Also, leave extra time to stop and smell the roses with your child. These simple times together end all too soon.
  4. Give children the space, tools and time to be physically active themselves and figure out what fun to master on their own. I want to do it myself is the battle cry of autonomy in these years and should be respected.

Baking with Children

  • Put on aprons. The mess is part of the fun;
  • Older children can crack the eggs and measure wet and dry ingredients, while younger children can participate by pouring the pre-measured ingredients into the mixing bowl;
  • Show children that oil and water mix by letting them stir the mix;
  • Create cut-outs with cookies cutters;
  • Be sure to encourage creativity and imagination when decorating your creations. Use festively colored frostings, sparkly sanding sugars, gumdrops, pre-cut fondant or homespun shapes. These are perfect for little fingers and make wonderful cookie decorations;
  • Don’t forget to taste test your creations;
  • Go with your children to deliver a plate of cookies to a neighbor or the local senior center. Giving and sharing can make children feel good.

Five Benefits of Imaginative Play

Imaginative play benefits the growth of the cerebellum. This part of the brain is responsible for key cognitive functions such as attention, language processing, sensing musical rhythms, and more (Brown & Vaughan, 2009, p. 34). Here are five other benefits of imaginative play for children.

  1. Play fosters the development of imagination. Imaginative play encourages children to be anything they want to be. This anything-goes thinking allows them to come up with ideas that they might not think about in a more structured environment.
  2. It encourages the development of problem-solving skills. Problem solving requires the ability to think creatively. Imaginative play involves experimenting with different activities, such as building with blocks or sculpting with modeling clay (White, 2015). Engaging in these playful activities helps children become more creative, which gives them the ability to solve different problems (Roskos & Christie, 2000).
  3. Play allows a child to fail without consequences. For example, when children play house, they imagine themselves as parents or spouses. They learn from those scenarios without dealing with negative consequences. Imaginative play, in other words, gives children the freedom to fail and try again without feeling defeated. (Lillemyr, 2009).
  1. It encourages social-emotional development. When pretending to be, say, a mother or a father, the child must imagine being in that person’s shoes. As a result, the child learns to interact and think about things as a parent, which helps the child become empathetic and practice language that is more in a parent’s vocabulary than a child.
  2. It helps children unwind. Unstructured imaginative play gives children the opportunity to be in their own world for a while without worrying about anything except playing and having fun.

 

 

References

Brown, S., & Vaughan, C. (2009). Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. New York, NY: Avery.

Lillemyr, O. F. (2009). Taking play seriously: Children and play in early childhood education—An exciting challenge. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Roskos, K. A., & Christie, J. F. (2000). Play and literacy in early childhood: Research from multiple perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

White, R. E. (2015). The power of play: A research summary on play and learning. Retrieved from http://www.childrensmuseums.org/images/MCMResearchSummary.pdf

Apple Printing Activity

You can use apples as stamps to create fun pictures, design wrapping paper or decorate clothing like t-shirts and jeans.

Materials

  • Apples
  • Paint (Use washable poster paint for paper prints and fabric paints for clothes.)
  • Paper plates
  • A printable surface
  • Newspaper to protect the work surface
  • Art smocks or old t-shirts
  • A knife to cut the apples (for adults only)*

Instructions

  1. Cover your work surface with newspaper and make sure everyone is wearing old clothes or a smock.
  2. Pour paint on the paper plates. Use one color per plate.
  3. Ask your child to guess what shape of half an apple will look like.
  4. Cut the apple in half from top to bottom to create an apple silhouette, or create a circle with a star by cutting the apple horizontally. You and your child can also brainstorm ways to create different shapes with the apple.
  5. Encourage your child to dip the flat side of the apple in the paint, thoroughly covering the flat surface, and then place the apple with the paint side down on the printing surface.
  6. Enjoy creating fun designs and pictures with your homemade stamps!

 

*An adult should oversee all the activities. The activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

Fourth of July Fun

It’s the time of year when family and friends join together for barbecues and fireworks. Whether it is a publicly held event or a celebration in your own backyard, the Fourth of July allows for lots of fun and various activities for all ages.

When searching for that perfect spot to lay down a blanket to view the fireworks, consider that fireworks may not be suitable for all children. While many adults enjoy this holiday, loud noises and bright lights can be frightening and overwhelming for young children.

Before attending any event that involves fireworks, discuss with your child what fireworks are and why people enjoy them. Show him videos of fireworks going off so he has a better idea of what to expect. It is normal for children to have a natural fear of loud unknown noises, and some children may also be afraid of fireworks falling on them. Be prepared to help him cope with his concerns.

While waiting for the sky to get dark enough for the fireworks to start, some children may become bored. Here are some activities that will help her stay occupied:

·         Play eye spy with her. In this way you can incorporate learning through play by asking her to find items that are specific colors and shapes;

·         Bring paper and crayons, and ask your child to draw pictures of what she thinks the fireworks will look like. This also may make her feel more comfortable about the anticipated display;

·         Provide outdoor equipment for games and activities such as balls, kites and jump ropes to keep your child engaged while she is having fun. Do not forget the snacks and water.

 What are some activities your family does on the Fourth of July?

Valentine Hearts Memory Game

With Valentine’s Day approaching, you and your child can make and play this fun game together!

Materials

  • Red, pink and white construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Markers, crayons or colored pencils

Instructions:

Cut pairs of hearts from the three different colors of paper.

Draw two pictures of the same object on one side of two hearts. Draw simple pictures your child can recognize. Try drawing some of the following on the hearts:

  • A flower
  • A bumblebee
  • A heart
  • A ladybug
  • A puppy
  • A smiley face

After you have drawn a picture on one side of each heart-shaped card, shuffle the cards and lay them out facedown in rows. You and your child can take turns picking a card, turning it over and then trying to pick the card with the matching picture. Each time your child turns over a card, ask your child to identify the object you drew. You can also ask questions about the pictures. If your child picks a card with a picture of a puppy, you could say, “You picked the puppy! What sound does a puppy make?” This fun activity also encourages critical thinking. When you or your child makes a match, put the pair to the side and continue with the game until you have matched all the pairs.

Break Up the Bad Weather Blues

Are you stuck inside because of the freezing temperatures or the snow? Take a step back from the TV, tablet or video game, and shakeup your normal routine. When the weather prevents your children from playing outside, provide them with challenging activities and active games!

Have a Board Game Competition.

Hold a board game competition in your living or family room. Spend the day playing different games. You can even compete for prizes.

Create an Indoor Obstacle Course.

Create a course with 10 to 15 stations of quick physical or educational activities. One station might require your child to jump on one foot 15 times; at another, your child should sing the alphabet song twice. Use a stop watch or oven clock to time each other and see who can complete the obstacle course the in fastest time or who can improve on their previous best times.

Create Your Very Own Time Capsule.

Spend the day with your child creating and filling a time capsule with items, notes, pictures and other things that are important to you and your child. Then, store it away. On a rainy or snowy day in the future, open it up and share your memories!

Don’t let the weather put a damper on your fun and learning. Make the best out of being stuck indoors with a little creativity and items you already have in your home!

Tomatoes are ready

We have many tomatoes that are ready to be eaten in our garden. Please view our Facebook page for a photo.