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Posts Tagged ‘Family Activities’

5 Easy Indoor Activities to Promote STEAM Skills in Your Kids

Simple ways to get your child thinking critically.

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Turning everyday tasks into learning opportunities with your children can greatly benefit them in the classroom. And STEAM education, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, is a great way to get your kids to brush up on their critical thinking skills. Here are five ways to incorporate STEAM (or STEM) into fun activities without having to set foot outside.

1. Make soup together.

Science: Through this activity, children will become early scientists as they compare and contrast how the texture of vegetables changes throughout the cooking process.

Technology: Ask: How does heat cook soup? How will you time the cooking? How do you keep veggies fresh before cooking? Have the kids think of the everyday uses of technology that help them and you make soup. In addition, have the children come up with different ways they might cook their soup if they didn’t have a stove.

Engineering: Using a knife can promote an early engineering experience of a simple machine, such as a wedge. The discussion alone around the process of cooking is a wonderful form of engaging engineering skills.

Art: Follow your soup-making process by reading a story! Our favorite is the story of Stone Soup by Marcia Brown. After storytime, invite children to draw a picture of their favorite part of making homemade soup.

Math: Through cutting vegetables, children may learn halves or fourths, exploring fractions or simply counting and measuring. Adding spices and measuring the vegetable stock also provide opportunities for children to begin to understand the properties of measurement.

Play with bath toys.

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Make bathtime educational.

Photo: Pixabay

Gather various water-safe objects that sink and float through exploring, observing and predicting.

Grab plastic measuring cups and spoons, plastic bowls and other water-safe items and toss ’em in the tub. Ask:

  • Why do some things float and some sink?
  • What do you notice about the shape, weight and feel of the objects when they’re in the water? How does that change when you take them out?

Bake together.

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The science of turning raw ingredients into something mouthwatering.

Photo: Pixabay

Make prepping a treat even sweeter with these tips and questions to incorporate into your kitchen adventures.

  • Talk through measurements as you mix dry ingredients together.
  • What do we predict will happen when dry ingredients are mixed in with the wet ingredients?
  • What makes the batter change color?
  • What do you think might happen when we bake the batter? What makes the batter go from wet to baked and delicious?

Ease into a bedtime routine with flashlight shadows.

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Nothing like old-school entertainment.

iStock

Grab your flashlight and small objects, like a favorite stuffed animal, toys, or even a shoe, and see how many different ways you can make shadows move and play across the room.

  • Place objects or your hand in front of the light and observe how shadows change and move around the room.
  • Create a story about the object’s shadow.
  • How do you make the shadows dance?
  • How can we make the object look bigger or smaller?
  • How many different ways can you make a shadow disappear and reappear in a different place?

Build a shadow theater.

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Bring the inner director out of your child.

Photo: iStock

Materials: Shoe boxes or pieces of cardboard, tape, white or waxed paper, flashlight, variety of objects to cast shadows

Cut off the top and bottom of the boxes. Help the children to tape paper across one of the openings. Ask: What else could we use to attach the paper? Place different objects in the box and light them from behind. Allow the children to select objects and have others guess what each object is while viewing from the other side. Encourage the children to experiment with moving the object and the light.

  • Can you make the object look bigger? Ask children to think of other ways to make a shadow theater.
  • What else could we use to let the light shine through? Do we need a frame?

Allison Wilson is the Director of Curriculum and Innovation at Stratford School, a leading independent private school founded on the belief that education is a significant influence in the life of a child. She is passionate about developing teachers and students, bringing more than 15 years of experience to the early-childhood sector through teaching, school leadership, teacher training and innovative curriculum development. Stratford offers an accelerated, balanced curriculum from preschool through eighth grade with an emphasis in the areas of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) that incorporates music, physical education, foreign language and social skills development.


 

This article was written by Allison Wilson from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Five Benefits of Taking a Staycation

StaycationTaking a vacation with your family can be challenging, so try taking a staycation instead. Here are five benefits of enjoying time off at home.

  1. Give your wallet a break. The beauty of a staycation is that you don’t have to spend money on gas, air travel or hotels. An added bonus is that you can use some of that cash on day trips or activities, instead.
  2. Get to know your town. Taking a staycation gives you the chance to explore your community. Take your child to a local restaurant you haven’t tried yet, visit a nearby park or simply go for a stroll through your neighborhood.
  3. Reduce your stress. Staying at home means you and your child don’t have to sit in traffic, wait in line at the airport or adjust to different lodgings. You can simply relax.
  4. Enjoy the comfort of your own home. You and your child can sleep in your own beds, lounge on your own couch and cook up some treats in your own kitchen. The comforts of home are what make it “home, sweet home,” after all.
  5. Maximize your vacation time. Staycations reduce the amount of time spent traveling, checking into and out of hotels and planning an itinerary. The minute you’re home, you’re on vacation.

Make Your Own Ice Cream Sandwiches

July is National Ice Cream Month, so what better way to celebrate than with a treat you can make with your children at home?

Graham Cracker Ice Cream Sandwiches

If your children love ice cream sandwiches, they can help you make them at home. Break a graham cracker into two squares. One cracker, broken in half, makes one sandwich.  Scoop their favorite flavor of slightly softened ice cream onto one square, and then top it with the other.  Gently push the sandwich together until the ice cream just reaches each edge.  Then, you can dip the edges of the sandwich in sprinkles or chopped-up pieces of candy.  Enjoy them now, or freeze them for a fun summer treat later!

*If you don’t want to use graham crackers, you can make your own sandwich cake. 

Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Pick your child’s favorite kind of cookie. Chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies and snickerdoodles work well, but you can use any kind you like. Either bake them or buy them pre-made. If you use homemade cookies, make sure they have cooled completely before making them into ice cream sandwiches.

You can use either store-bought or homemade ice cream.  Pick your favorite flavor and scoop some ice cream onto one cookie, then top it with the other cookie and gently press the halves of the sandwich together.

Enjoy these sweet treats as they are or roll the edges in sprinkles or chopped-up pieces of candy first!

These are a great birthday party treats, or you can freeze them and save them for a day at the pool or the beach.

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

Keeping in Touch: Family Newsletters

Nowadays it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with family and friends. Email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and such allow us to keep our loved ones (and the world) apprised of our every action. But in the age of 140-character limits, sometimes it’s difficult to get the whole story across.

Most commonly used at holiday time, family newsletters are a great way to keep family and friends both near and far up to date on all of your family’s happenings throughout the year as well. Set aside some time every few months (or every month, if possible) to jot down the latest news, with details—trips, activities, milestones, birthdays, promotions, etc. You can send a mass email or post it to your blog, but consider sending “snail mail” versions on decorative paper (preferably decorated by the children) to very special family members like grandma and grandpa. It’ll be a nice surprise in their mailbox and they’ll anxiously await each new newsletter!

If you’d like to take your newsletter to the next level, take a family vote on a name for your newsletter like the “Griffin Gazette” or the “Thompson Times.” Add sections for jokes and riddles, upcoming events and a family photo or two. Working together as a family to compile your newsletter is a great way to foster collaboration and communication while having fun!

It’s Apple Time!

‘Tis the season to enjoy a good-for-you fall fruit that the whole family loves – apples! Apples are child-friendly, healthy snacks.  They are fat, sodium and cholesterol free!  Apples are grown in all 50 states and orchards across the country offer apple picking, hay rides and hot apple cider at this time of year – a day of family fun and good memories.

Apples can be more than just good to eat. Check out the fun ‘apple’ activity below.

Apple Printing

You can use apples as stamps to create fun pictures, wrapping paper or to decorate t-shirts and other wearables!

Materials:

Apples

Paint (Use washable poster paint for paper prints and fabric paints for clothes.)

Paper Plates

Printable Surface

Newspaper (to protect work surface)

Art Smocks or Old T-shirts

Knife to Cut the Apple(s) – Adults only*

How To:

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 (one color per plate).

3. Cut the apples in half (adults only). Create an apple silhouette by cutting the apple from top to bottom, or create a circle with a “star” by cutting the apple horizontally. Ask your child to guess what the shape will look like before you cut the apple, or brainstorm various ways to create different shapes with the apple.

4. Encourage your child to dip the flat side of the apple in the paint (trying to thoroughly cover the flat surface) and then place the apple – paint side down -on the printing surface.

5. Enjoy creating fun designs and pictures with your homemade stamps!

*An adult should oversee all activities. Activities may not be appropriate for all ages. (Activity from kidsdomain.com)