Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Learning Play

There are some moms out there, especially around the blogosphere, who teach and teach and teach their kids at home long before kindergarten. 

I am not one of those moms. 

But we have done some fun activities here at home that stretch the kids' brains as they play. Here are a few of those ideas. Everything can be made with materials you likely already have or that are super cheap and readily available should you need to purchase them. 

I made this maze on a portion of a large sheet of thick painter's plastic so it would be durable, reusable, AND dry-erasable! I used duct tape for the lines, but any tape should work. I free-handed the path and designed it to have many possible successful routes to keep it as engaging as possible. Oren LOVED driving his cars along the "roads," and we set up his super hero bases at various points. Tovi liked to track down the bad guys and take them to Gotham City Jail. The kiddos can also use dry-erase makers to draw paths or even walk the paths themselves. 

Ball (...or Angry Bird...) Wall
We LOVE the ball walls at the children's museum, and I plan to eventually construct one for the playroom. In the mean time, this idea is a cheap, easy alternative. I took toilet paper, paper towel, and wrapping paper tubes and wrapped them in tape so loops of tape would stick to them (tape doesn't adhere well directly to the cardboard, so a tape layer helps). I used duct tape, but painter's tape would be safer for your walls if you're concerned. We arranged the tubes in various shapes and orders, then dropped small balls, cars, and Oren's beloved Angry Birds through them.  We had fun re-arranging the tubes, seeing how far apart we could put them without losing the ball/car/bird, etc. 

Alphabet Parking Lot

I've seen variations of this idea online using taped parking spots on a floor. But I had these cheap Dollar Tree table cloths and used those instead. I write the alphabet on duct tape (can you tell I love this stuff?!) and put one letter on each car. The goal is to park the car in the spot with the matching letter. I used upper and lower case. This summer I plan to put words on the cars to have the kids match them with the initial letter on the parking lot. There are MANY possible variations!

Counting With Bubble Wrap

I actually used this with my kindergarten Title 1 group first. I wrote one number per bubble in mixed-up order and had the kids pop them in counting order. This builds several skills including number recognition, counting order, and pincer grasp fine motor skills. You could easily do this with the alphabet. Or for older kids, you could say a word and have them pop the bubble that corresponds with the first sound of that word. These could easily be used in place of Bingo boards too!

What are your favorite activities using ordinary materials in creative ways?

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