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Posts Tagged ‘Playing with your child’

Playful Parenting: Fun Activities for Newborns

Like all children, babies learn best by having fun. Here are some simple, play-based activities you can do with your infant to help him or her develop motor and learning skills.

  • Encourage tummy time. Tummy time is good exercise and allows your baby to practiceInfant_jpg
    moving. Lie your baby on her stomach and put one or two colorful toys in front of her or around her;
  • Read. Besides being an excellent bonding activity, reading to your newborn also prepares him for reading on his own and introduces him to shapes, letters and colors;
  • Talk to your baby. Simply chatting to your baby about whatever you’re doing keeps her entertained and helps to establish a foundation for language development;
  • Play with toys. Playing with age-appropriate toys helps your newborn exercise his sense of touch. Babies especially enjoy toys with different textures, such as crinkly fabric, satin and velvet.

Stay Active

As parents, our main goal is to keep our children happy and healthy. One challenge, especially with enticing gadgets, is getting our children to keep active and understand the importance of exercise. Creating good habits early helps
9children maintain and form positive habits later. We want to teach our children to turn off the TV, put down the electronic devices and go outside to use their energy and imagination.

Here are some ideas of what you and your child can do together to stay active:

  • Go for a walk in the park or in your neighborhood and have a scavenger hunt (look for a pine cone, a red bird, etc.);
  • Use sidewalk chalk to create a hopscotch court and teach your child to play the game;
  • Find a new park or playground to explore;
  • Walk your dog or play fetch with your dog as a family;
  • Plant flowers together in a garden;
  • Visit a local zoo or museum;
  • Go outside and play with a bouncy ball;
  • Teach your child to ride a tricycle;
  • Have a family room dance party;
  • Set up a small inflatable pool in your backyard;
  • Play Simon Says, and make sure Simon includes plenty of jumping and other active movements.

Valentine Hearts Memory Game

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


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


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 face down 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.

Rainy Summer Day

Before you put on the children’s favorite movie for the eleventh time on a rainy summer afternoon, use the opportunity to star in your own production. Dramatic play is an important part of early learning and can be a lot of fun. When children engage in dramatic play, they adopt and manipulate identities, playing out the ideas of the world around them and fantasy worlds. This critical component of the developmental learning process helps children develop abstract thinking, literacy, math, scientific thinking and communication skills naturally.

Dramatic play is part of the everyday curriculum in all Goddard School classrooms. Parents can join in the fun by getting down on the floor and playing with the children. You and your children can make costumes of their favorite story characters using old clothes, paper and crayons and then act out the scenes. If your children love Goldilocks and the Three Bears, let them assign you a character to play and let them lead the way. With very young children, dramatic or pretend play can be as simple as drumming with pots and pans or pretending to make a meal. It may feel like play, but it is your child’s work and it helps children learn.Before you know it, the rain will stop and you can go play outside.

Going on a Treasure Hunt

An ancient treasure map has turned up miraculously on your door step and it leads to a treasure chest hiding in your home! Great for parties or just a fun afternoon activity, send your children roaming around your house or backyard for some fun-filled treasure hunting adventures.

Like a scavenger hunt, create clues that will send the treasure hunters from one hint to the next, eventually ending at the “buried” treasure! Have fun and be creative when writing your clues—use riddles or rhymes—but don’t make them too hard for young children to figure out quickly.

Once you’ve created your clues, set up your landmarks for the treasure hunt. You could use stuffed animals and pretend they’re “wild dingos,” build a totem pole out of empty boxes or fill a small kiddie pool with sand (outside, of course) and encourage the children to dig for their next hint. The possibilities are endless! Be sure to set boundaries, and keep all landmarks and treasure chest within your home or backyard where you can easily supervise.

Cardboard treasure chests can be found in most party stores, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you could make one using a few supplies from your local craft store.

A Day at the “Beach”

When it’s just too hot (or rainy) to go outdoors, consider creating your own indoor oasis for a day filled with summer fun!

Start by creating a space in your living room or play room that can be used as the “beach.” Have your child wear their best beach outfit, complete with flip flops and sunglasses, and lay beach towels on the floor. If you have beach balls or other beach-related decorations, bring them out to add to the fun.

During their day at the “beach,” encourage your child to use their imagination to pretend they’re swimming, surfing in the waves, or the lifeguard watching over all the swimmers. Read your child’s favorite beach-related books together, eat lunch picnic-style on your beach towels, play a game of beach ball catch and even take a nap on the “beach.”

Outdoor Activities & Park Play with Your Children

A day at the park may seem like ‘just another day,’ but learning and bonding experiences flourish at the park!

Pack for Safety

Include drinking water, sunscreen, hat, water to wash as well as wipes for hands, sneakers or other closed-toed shoes, a change of clothes or a towel for the seat, small first aid kit for those little scrapes and a small trash bag to keep the earth litter free.

Expect to Get Dirty

Going outside is about the freedom to explore and the only way to explore is to touch it, and yes, it is dirty–it’s outside! Dirty does not mean ‘germy.’ Roll in the grass, stomp in the mud, touch the frog and splash in the puddles.

Infants & Teacher with Bubbles CInfant to Six Months

  • Pack for safety: A blanket to crawl on and a sturdy pair of pants for crawling on rough surfaces. Be prepared to change diapers on the go.
  • Be prepared to climb and crawl yourself. This is the best way for you to ensure your child’s safety. Watch for items going into your child’s mouth.
  • Hydration: The outside air and activity increases the amount of fluids you both need to consume. And while you’re packing the water, pack a snack.
  • Point, name and describe: As your child explores, point out the details; name objects and talk about your experience.

First Steps (12 to 18 months)

  • Pack for safety: Bring a blanket and a sturdy pair of pants for crawling on rough surfaces. This is not the place for skirts or dresses.
  • Plan for breaks and pack snacks, water and a few books.
  • Dig and touch: Collect items to further explore when you get home.
  • Walk the trail with your little one on a riding toy. Don’t forget the helmet.
  • Park Play Etiquette: If your little one finds a playmate, ask the other parent if both of you may join in the play. Your child will learn to ask for your approval before playing with strangers and the parent of the other child will appreciate this overture.

Toddler and Get Set (18 to 36 months)

  • Plot the potty path!
  • Bring balls to throw and kick or bean bags and a bucket.
  • Move beyond the park and walk a trail or explore a nursery. Go to the stream, lake or pond and skip rocks. Turn the rocks over to find creepy, crawly things.
  • No breaks required–but pause for a moment to re-hydrate.
  • Look through binoculars–even two toilet paper tubes offer a new view of the world.
  • Tent it! A pop-up tent is an instant playhouse.
  • Take an umbrella and put on your galoshes–take a walk in the light rain.

Preschool to Pre-K (36 months +)

  • Lie down and look up: Children like to see the world from a different perspective.
  • Picnic: Let your child be a part of packing the necessities and preparing the sandwiches.
  • Play “I Spy” or “I Hear.”
  • Read or draw under the trees.
  • Bring a magnifying cup for bugs and objects to view. Research your bugs and objects when you return home to learn more about each.

Go outside all year long–visit http://www.scdconline.org/PDF_files/weatherwatch.pdf to know what is considered safe outdoor weather for children.

Get Out and Play!

Don’t let the chill in the air keep your children indoors and inactive this winter. Bundle up appropriately and get out and play!

  • Check local Web sites and activity guides for places you can hike, ski, sled, ice skate or snowshoe.
  • Romp in the snow and enjoy an exciting snowball fight.
  • If it’s too cold to be outdoors, consider indoor activities such as swimming, karate and dance.
  • Limit TV, video game and computer time to encourage your children to get active.
  • Set a good example. If you’re telling your children to get out and play, make sure you do, too!

Take a Hike!

In a survey by the Outdoor Foundation, it was found that children are primarily motivated by their families to participate in outdoor activities.  What better way to get children outdoors and active, than by going on a family hike?  Below are some tips for planning your hike so the littlest of hikers have a fun and rewarding experience.

  • Be prepared! Gear everyone up with appropriate, well-fitting hiking shoes or boots and comfortable, breathable clothing — bright colors (for little ones mostly) and layers are best.
  • Stock your backpacks with Deet-free bug spray, water, snacks, a well-stocked first-aid kit, GPS unit and rain gear, just in case.
  • If a child is too small to walk on their own, consider using a backpack carrier rather than a stroller.  It’ll be easier to maneuver over the terrain with baby in tow and they’re sure to enjoy the “bird’s-eye” view.
  • Establish and discuss “rules of the trail” before you head out, e.g., staying quiet to not disturb the animals, plants to steer clear of, not running off, etc.
  • Start with short hikes on easy trails with fairly flat surfaces to get everyone accustomed to the hiking experience.
  • Take your time. Go slow so everyone can keep up, but also to enjoy and explore your surroundings.
  • Geocaching or playing games on your hike are great ways to keep children interested and moving along.  Visit www.geocaching.com to find out more about this fun outdoor family activity.


Happy hiking!

Integrating Emotion & Learning in Everyday Moments

Excerpt from Me, Myself and I

Your own ideas about how to integrating emotion and learning in everyday moments with your child are probably better than anything I could advise for you personally.  But here are some ideas and suggestions that might help you customize those ideas.

  • Blocks - Teacher & BoyTalk with your child. Hopefully, you have been doing that since the moment she was born.  Chat with her about what you and she are doing.  She’ll become part of the conversation sooner if you express to her what you love about being a parent.
  • Encourage curiosity and understand that repetition is a good thing for him, boring though it might be for you.  The neurological basis for the insistence on the familiar lies in the fact that when synaptic connections are repeatedly activated by the same stimulation, they become immune from elimination during the brain’s pruning process.  They survive to become permanent neural connections that enhance learning.  So go ahead and do what your child likes – over and over.  This is a good rut to be in.
  • Simply being nearby and available while your child plays on his own is so important, as is your willingness to interact.  So get down on the floor and stay awhile.  Of course, this is hard for working parents, but the effort is worth it.
  • Nothing beats reading. Children don’t learn interactive, conversational language from TV because it does not respond to them. Language and eventually reading are learned from being actively engaged in speaking and reading with others – hearing parents and caregivers talk to each other and waiting for the child to respond.
  • Children learn best in the context of their daily lives and when the amount and kind of stimulation fits their temperament, level of development, interests or preferences, and mood.  Pressure to perform or conform to high expectations can lead to stress that can sabotage learning through burnout and confusion.
  • Young children do not need to be taught how to think.  Science is careening ahead pursuing fascinating findings and ideas about how, even whether, children this age actually do think.  But our ignorance dominates our knowledge embarrassingly.  We are still understanding why they even want to think in the first place.  It is like walking or talking, unfolding in due course when the maturational timekeeper tells the mind-body duality, “Johnny: it’s time?”
  • The five-second check-in. Since most of us don’t spend our days staring endlessly at our toddlers and preschoolers, it is important that you take a few seconds to assess the mood, or state your child is in before you join in his doings, ask him to do something or simply interrupt him.  This is the feeling state that will determine his ability to understand or comply with whatever you might need, no matter how small.  If you are not tuned in, he probably won’t hear (i.e. learn).
  • Join your child. Follow her lead in activities she is already involved in.  Don’t take over – it will turn her off.  But if you want her to learn, become a partner in the exploration she has begun.  Add a ball to hide in the pots and pans scene, or move close and take her hand if she is wary of a dog on a walk.  Don’t instantly rescue (unless safety is an immediate concern) because you will lose one of those interesting moments of tension that could be mastered, leading a child to a wider, more complex understanding of the world.
  • If your child balks at a “learning” moment with you, it could mean you didn’t read the five-second check-in right.  Back up and let your child know you know what she is feeling first.  (“I guess you weren’t quite through,” or “It’s hard to have to stop when you are having fun doing X.”)  When the feeling domain feels appreciated, then the learning domain is less burdened.
  • If your child needs redirection after you have connected with his mood or feeling, ask softly what he might enjoy doing.  If you still have no luck make two suggestions of things he might do and help him choose.  He will probably need some pump-priming from you, since you can manage your own mood apart from his.  Remember, how you are in such moments, is as important as what you do.
  • If it’s important for you to initiate an activity that will bring you pleasure and you know it could be good for your child, like reading or going for a walk, stabilize your own mood first.  Only then can you help your child regulate hers.  Once done, then she can crawl up on your lap or get out the door and learn.  For some kids, it’s the other way around.  But for the majority, in the feeling and learning dance, it isn’t always possible to say who is leading.