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Posts Tagged ‘Activities’

Socially Safe Halloween Masks Craft

Your Halloween celebrations might be physically distanced this year, but wearing a face covering for the festivities doesn’t mean your child has to compromise on a cool costume. Here’s how you can make your child’s face mask part of their trick-or-treating gear. 

 Materials 

  • Non-toxic foam sheets 
  • Washable glue sticks  
  • Hot glue gun 
  • Disposable paper masks 
  • Paper straws 

 Directions 

  1. Talk with your child to decide what kind of mask you should make. The possibilities are endless. If you need a little inspiration, take a look at this video for some ideas!
  2. To create an eye mask, help your child cut out a basic mask shape from a sheet of foam. Cut out foam shapes for your child to glue onto the mask with a glue stick.  
  3. Use the glue gun to attach a paper straw to the side of the eye mask as a handle. Only adults should use the glue gun. 
  4. Cut additional foam pieces to create a mouth for the face covering, and glue them in place with the glue gun.  

Now, your child is ready for a fun and healthy Halloween!  

Are you looking for more safe and spooktacular Halloween ideas? Check out this article on the Goddard School blog featuring some fun activities beyond trick-or-treating! 

More Than Just Fun and Games: What Children Can Learn from Playing Games

child playing board game with parent

By Helen Hadani, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

After sheltering in place for several months, many families are digging deep into their closets and garages for games that haven’t seen the light of day for months or even years. For families with young children, classic games like Chutes and Ladders, Go Fish and Candyland are fun ways to enjoy family time, but they also promote important social skills, including taking turns and sharing, and academic skills, such as counting, color matching and comparing numbers.  

By definition, games include rules. Remembering those rules requires working memory (the part of our memory that allows us to hold and mentally manipulate information in our minds), and following rules often requires self-control. For example, children have to resist the urge to touch their toes when playing Simon Says unless they hear the magic words “Simon says.” Similarly, in the classic outdoor game Red Light, Green Light, children need to exhibit self-control and only run fast when they hear “green light.” Even just waiting until it is your turn can be hard! 

Simple card games like Go Fish, Old Maid and Crazy Eights involve matching suits or numbers, which promotes early math skills. When children roll dice or use a spinner to determine the number of spaces they should move, they have an opportunity to practice counting. In fact, researchers have found that playing a number-based board game like Chutes and Ladders can improve preschoolers’ numerical knowledge and skills. 

Games are meant to be sources of entertainment and joy (and they bring out the competitive side in some of us), but research shows that some games can also promote cognitive and social skills.  

Don’t worry if your children ask to play their favorite game more times than you want to count – they are learning along the way as they get to that last spot on the board! 

Keep Outdoor Play Simple: Let Nature Supply the Learning.

Dad and two small preschool children going on walk outside on a path

Daily walks or time spent outdoors have recently become part of many families daily routines as the benefits of time spent outdoorsincluding lowering stress levels and combating hyperactivity, are being experienced firsthand. As such, many parents and caretakers are looking for guidance on worthwhile outdoor activities for their children that don’t require a lot of planning or supplies. Below are some ideas for simple, quality outdoor activities that you and your children can do together that don’t require supplies or much planning. 

Activity One – Taking a Walk Outside 

Taking a walk may seem too simple to have any real benefits, but it has many. It is a great gross motor and physical activity for the whole family, especially those still perfecting their walking skills. Even for older children, taking a walk on uneven ground such as over roots in a wooded area or through a park with slopes, arched bridges or hills provides excellent opportunities to practice coordination and helps them learn to navigate varying terrains safely 

Activity Two – Counting Natural Items 

Head outside to your backyard, a nearby park or natural space. Have your children pick an item that they can see more than one of, such as trees, flowers, rocks or even wildlife. Have your children count how many of each item that they see. For infants, talk about what you see and count out loud to them. Older children may even want to practice adding or subtracting the numbers that correlate to different natural items. 

Activity Three – Watching Clouds  

Find an outdoor space with a clear view of the sky. Lay in the grass or on a blanket and ask your children what they see in the clouds. Point out anything that you see in the clouds. Does one cloud look like a dog and another like a tree? Ask your children what they know about whatever they see in the clouds to help develop their critical thinking skills, and identify areas of interest that you can explore together 

Activity Four – Taking a Thankful Walk 

Take a walk around your yard or community and point out natural items that you are thankful for to your children, such as I am thankful for the trees because they provide shade for us on hot, sunny daysI am thankful for the grass because it gives us a soft place to sit outside or I am thankful for the sun because it helps all of the plants to grow. Then ask your children to point out what they see around them that they are thankful for, and why. Depending on what your children point out, you can dive deeper into any topics that they show interest in and help them think critically about the natural world around them.  

Even the simplest of outdoor activities can have numerous benefits for both you and your children. Use your time spent outdoors as a chance to relax and enjoy some quality time together while the learning happens naturally 

Rorie Wells M.A., CPSI 

Education Facilities Specialist – Playgrounds 

How to Foster Creativity Amongst Your Young Learner

balancing-working-from-home-with-children-4By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

May is Inventors Month. Who knew? Our little ones are always inventing and testing.  This is how they learn to interact with the world around them. Encouraging creativity is essential to supporting our young learners. National Inventors Month began in 1998 to help promote the positive image of inventors and their contributionsInventors affect every facet of our lives, and we want to encourage children to be creative and learn to become problem solvers. How can we help our young learners to become creative? 

Creativity is often described as the action you take after imagination. In other words, it is not imagination alone but how you put your imagination into action. In the business world, we call it insights into action. The combination of imagination, creativity and problem solving becomes innovation.  

 We can nurture creativity and innovation in our children by allowing them to try new things, providing a lot of time for free play and creating an enriched learning environment at home.   

  • You don’t need a mountain of toys and devices to create an enriched learning environment for your child. A variety of toys that are changed often will provide your child with cognitive stimulation and promote curiosity and exploration. The toys don’t need to be fancy. In fact, toys that require imagination, like cardboard boxes and old clothes for dress-up, are often the most stimulating! 
  • Access to books is also important, and the public library can help keep the selection varied. We love Rosie the Riveter, by Andrea Beaty and My Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires.     
  • Explore how things work by taking apart old equipment, such as a toaster or computer. Before you throw things away, think about how they can be recycled for play. Children will be fascinated by all of the parts. 
  • Explore your community. Trips to the zoo, different local parks, museums, and even grocery stores add valuable variety to your child’s experience. 
  • Limit screen time and encourage physical activity. 

 Enriching your home in this way will help your child tdevelop creativity skills and tap into his or her innovative spirit! 

Independent Moments Three

3

When you need a moment or two and you’d like your child to do something fun, ask your child to try one of these instant playful learning activities.

1. Puzzled

Make your own puzzles with pictures from magazines or mailers. You can cut them up into pieces, mix up the pieces and put the pictures back together. To make the puzzles sturdier, you can glue the pictures to paper before you cut them up. How many pieces will you make?

You’ll need scissors, old magazines or flyers.

Learning Areas – Design, mathematics and fine motor skills

2. How Long Is It? How Wide Is It?

Measure things in the house using unusual units of measurement, such as your feet or arms. How many arms long is the table? How many feet is it to the door from the couch? Make a chart with your new measurements.

You’ll need paper and a pencil for your chart.

Learning Areas – Mathematics, cognitive flexibility and writing skills

3. You Have a Seat at the Table

Make personalized placemats for everyone in the family.

You’ll need paper and crayons. Using paint, markers and colored pencils can be fun, too.

Learning Areas – Print knowledge, vocabulary and creativity

Independent Moments Two

2

When you need a moment or two and you’d like your child to do something fun, ask your child to try one of these instant playful learning activities.

1. Who Is That?

Make a funny character using a paper lunch bag.

You’ll need a paper bag, paper and crayons or markers.

Learning Areas – Creativity, social-emotional development and fine motor skills

2. My Room

Make a colorful nameplate for your bedroom door. You can add dimension with paper cut-outs glued to the nameplate.

You’ll need cardboard, tape and markers. You can also use crayons or colored pencils.

Learning Areas – Writing skills, creativity and fine motor skills

3. What Is That?

Take an upside-down picture or a close-up of a familiar object. What is it? Try this with a single category of objects, such as pieces of furniture or toys. Print the images or share them with your family members and ask them to guess what is in the pictures.

You’ll need a camera or a smartphone.

Learning Skills – Observation, cognitive flexibility, creativity

Independant Moments

1

When you need a moment or two and you’d like your child to do something fun, ask your child to try one of these instant playful learning activities.

1.Fruit Face

Make a face with fruits and vegetables on a paper plate. Will the face be happy, sad or silly?

You’ll need a paper plate and some cut-up food items. Take a picture of your child’s creation, and then enjoy the snack.

Learning Areas – Creativity, social-emotional development and healthy habits

2. Handy Animals

Turn an outline of a hand into a zany animal. Make more animals with outlines of your fingers or thumbprints.

You’ll need paper, crayons, markers and your imagination. Take a picture, and share it with family members and friends.

Learning Areas – Fine motor skills, creativity and biology

3. Does It Fly?

Create something out of paper and cardboard that will fly. You can decorate it, too. Try making two things and testing which one flies the farthest.

You’ll need paper, cardboard, crayons, markers and scissors.

Learning Areas – Engineering, creativity and invention

Supporting Children’s Positive Behavior While They’re at Home

engaging-children-in-caring-for-the-environment-1

By Rorie Wells M.A., CPSI, Education Facilities Specialist – Playgrounds

Why more time outdoors might be the answer that you have been searching for.

Parents are being asked to juggle work responsibilities at home with caring for their children full time. It’s a lot to manage, but there is a simple solution to help cope with the stresses created by these new at-home scenarios while supporting positive behavior from your children. Head outside!

While restrictions have been put on many everyday activities, the CDC continues to recommend that children spend time outdoors as long as they are practicing social distancing procedures. This is for good reason, as time spent outdoors:

  1. Lowers stress levels.
  2. Improves mental health.
  3. Helps reduce hyperactivity.
  4. Promotes healthy development and physical fitness for children and adults.

Perhaps the most relevant benefit of spending time outdoors is that your child will come inside with an increased ability to focus on learning, allowing you to return to your other responsibilities. Here are a few tips for making the most of the outdoor time.

Go with the Flow

When heading outdoors, you don’t have to worry about a concrete plan for activities. Let your children lead the way in exploring their environment. You can introduce loose parts such as buckets, balls, toy cars, trucks or sidewalk chalk, or you can get creative with building, stacking and drawing with your children. Pose questions like, “What will happen if we do this?” or “Can you build a tower as high as your belly button?” or “Can you draw a picture of our family?” Follow your children’s interests for what to do next.

Observe Nature

If you feel you need a more concrete plan when heading outdoors, consider taking a nature hike and observing the world around you. Ask your children what they hear as you walk and discuss what they think is making those sounds. If you don’t have a trail nearby, you can head into your backyard or a nearby outdoor space and listen for different sounds.

Indoor Activities Can Go Outdoors

You can also take some of your children’s favorite books outside and have an outdoor story time or create a nature scavenger hunt and ask your children to find different natural items like something green, something rough, a piece of grass as long as their fingers, a piece of tree bark or a smooth stone. Simple questions and prompts open the door to more involved investigations and learning opportunities for you and your children.

The next time you feel overwhelmed with your dual responsibilities and your children’s behavior is becoming a little more difficult, head outside!

 

How to Make Cardboard Tube Animals


You can make these adorable cardboard tube animals with items most people already have around the house. While this tutorial provides instructions for making an owl, a cat and a dog, the possibilities are endless!

Materials

  • Paper tubes (toilet paper tubes are the perfect size)
  • Yarn or shoelaces in assorted colors
  • Paper scraps
  • Googly eyes
  • Glue dots
  • Scissors
  • Markers

Instructions

  1. If you are using a larger tube, cut it down to the size of a toilet paper tube. Push down the top edge. Add a glue dot to the edge before folding down and securing the other top edge. This will make your animal’s ears.
  2. Secure the end of a piece of yarn or a shoelace to the bottom edge of the tube with a glue dot. Then, wrap the tube about three-quarters of the way up the tube, leaving enough room to make a face. Secure the other end of the yarn or shoelace with a glue dot.
  3. Cut out pieces of scrap paper to make additional animal parts.
  • To make an owl, cut out two wings, a beak and two colorful circles where the googly eyes will go;
  • To make a cat or a dog, cut out four paws, a nose and a tail.
  1. Glue the paper pieces and googly eyes onto your creation. Then, use the marker to draw any finishing touches, like whiskers or smiles.

Your Child Can Have a Virtual Playdate!

balancing-working-from-home-with-children-1

By Jennifer Jipson, Ph.D.
Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

In these swiftly changing times, recommendations for whether and how to maintain social connections require daily updates. If I had written this response a week ago, my advice would have been different than it is today. But our current situation is that in many places in the United States and globally, the governments have issued shelter at home orders requiring families to limit physical and social contact to immediate family members. In areas where these orders are not yet in place, they are likely to be soon. This means no playdates, no trips to the playground, no planned bike rides and no hikes or neighborhood walks with other families. Even maintaining six feet of separation is just too risky. Children are motivated to share and help, and they’ve practiced this for years. If a friend falls, the other friends will reach out their hands to help their friend up. If they have a delicious pack of gummy bears, they’ll give one to their friend. An equally important reason for not being flexible about seemingly low-risk outdoor outings with other families is that planning these outings sends children the wrong message about compliance with critical public health mandates. As parents, we must model best behaviors, set limits on behaviors and follow-through. Being clear now saves you from responding to endless pleas for playdates as time goes on.

All of these no’s are difficult to hear but the rationale is a strong one. We need to break the chain of contagion, and the only way to do that is by being united in our commitment to being physically separated. Given this new (and temporary, if we all do our part) parenting context, I’d like to offer an essential reminder: physical distancing does not have to mean social distancing. We’re lucky to live in times where technologies exist to help us connect in real time through our phones, tablets and computers. Social interaction is critical for the development of social skills, cognitive ability and mental health. Children of all ages can benefit from spending some virtual time with others during the upcoming weeks that they’ll spend at home.

Here are some tools and tips that can help you support your children’s need to maintain their relationships with others through the use of virtual playdates:

  • My favorite apps for children to use to connect in real time are Caribu (zero to eight years) and Houseparty (school-age);
  • Houseparty allows children to see multiple friends at once in a virtual hangout and even play games together, such as versions of charades, trivia, Pictionary, and Apples to Apples. Playing games requires some reading skills. My daughters spend hours on this app with their friends. Hearing their laughter fill the house reminds me that children are children, and they will find ways to have fun and play even when they’re not together;
  • Caribu is a subscription-based video chat app that recently won a Time Magazine Best Invention of 2019 award. This app combines video chatting with numerous choices for game playing and contains a library of books so that children can engage in book reading together or with distant relatives.
  • Video chat apps like Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Google Duo and What’s App offer opportunities to see each other’s faces and chat, but they also can be used to encourage children to share their non-digital activities. Children show each other new dance moves, LEGO projects and artistic creations. Just last night, my daughter made cupcakes with a friend over facetime. They each made cupcakes at their own houses but followed the same recipe together in real time. This was their idea and they had an absolute blast! The use of video chat apps can also be supplemented with traditional games like 20 questions, Simon Says and charades;
  • Netflix Party is a Chrome browser extension that lets children watch their favorite movies and shows together. When one person pauses to get more popcorn, the show pauses for everyone. For children who can read and write, there is a chat option so they can comment on the program or anything else as they watch. For non-readers and writers, they can use video chat applications on another device to encourage.

A word about infants and toddlers Babies are naturally drawn to look at human faces, especially faces that are familiar to them. Research is clear that video chatting is a positive screen-based experience for infants and toddlers. For this age group, no additional materials are needed. Just let the children see one another and respond to each other’s facial expressions and emerging efforts to talk. Although research hasn’t investigated peer relationships, when infants and toddlers regularly see distant family members on video chat apps, they form and maintain positive relationships.

Note – Before handing over your phone, be sure to turn off notifications and lock the screen by selecting Screen Pinning on Androids or Guided Access on iPhones so that your child’s experience isn’t interrupted by accidental swiping or button pressing, and of course, give that phone a good sterile wipe down before and after allowing your child to play with it.