How can we increase the amount of brain-building activities for our children in their day to day lives instead of plopping them in front of the TV for a whole day movie marathon? I will tell you! (No, I don't judge you if you plop your kids in front of the TV all day every great once in a while. TV can be a lifesaver! With all of the surgeries I have had lately, I know that sometimes it is hard, if not impossible not to have a little help. Let's face it, we don't always have the luxury of our help coming in the form of another human being.)
Some little things I recommend:
- Keep art supplies on hand. We have an "artists household". My fiance is a graphic designer and paints miniature models in his free time. Sometimes he will fill the table up with art supplies for A to use while he will work on his hobby. She LOVES it and it builds her creativity. Be sure to have things like paint, an old shirt they can wear while painting, paint brushes, paper, crayons, kid scissors, stick glue, tissue paper, construction paper, different hole punches, Popsicle sticks, paper plates, googly eyes, etc. Of course, you don't need ALL of that if you don't want. However, it is great to have a variety of art supplies to choose from and it comes in handy for impromptu crafts!
- Play dough and different cookie cutter shapes and plastic scissors/rolling cutters. Look at garage sales and thrift stores especially for things like plastic cookie cutters. I found a huge box of them at Goodwill for $3 and they work for several things. Not just play dough.
- Use the internet. When you are having trouble coming up with more activities to do with your child, websites like Pinterest (click for my profile!) and YouTube can be a wonderful thing! Most of what I find is on Pinterest, which I'm sure most of you know about or use. We are a homeschooling family and the resources I have come across have proved to be invaluable. Just search for activities for whatever age your child is.
- Use what you have and your imagination! Many parents feel they need to have a bunch of supplies handy to get anything out of a fun activity. That's not true! We have come up with random things to do many times, and as long as you and your child are enjoying it, it doesn't matter that it is homemade.
Some of the things we enjoy:
- Bathtub painting. Squirt some foaming shave cream into a bowl and mix in your choice of food coloring. Give the child a brush or let them use their hands and stick them in the bathtub. I love to do this with A. She just uses the back wall of our bathtub as a huge canvas. Be careful as the food coloring can discolor your child's skin or your bathroom walls. We haven't had this problem yet, but it could happen!
- Popsicle stick puzzles. Tape a row (around 8 makes a good size) of Popsicle sticks together and turn it over. Draw your own picture or glue a picture that fits all of the Popsicle sticks. When you are done, separate them (Xacto knives work well if you glued a picture, but any knife will do). You can then mix them up and your child can figure out how to put them back together.
- Play a game! We have a few preschool-aged board games that A loves to play. There are ones like Candyland, Uno Moo, Sneaky Snacky Squirrel, and Matching games. Simple card games like Go Fish! are also a favorite. You can even make up your own game with your own rules. The options are limitless!
- Reading. I don't think anyone can read too much. Your child can choose an interesting book and read to themselves. If they can't read alone yet, then pick out a few to read together. After all, it is summer! Check out your local library to see if they offer a summer reading program. Most of the time you'll be able to read books and get awesome reading swag all at the same time.
- Take something they have said and make a learning activity out of it. Recently, whenever A asks a question about something, we make that subject into a learning subject. She is asking a lot of questions right now and loves to learn new things. You don't have to be a homeschooling family or an unschooling family to benefit from learning things together. For example, A has been very interested in how her body works. We have a few books that we will explore together when she has a question about something specific and YouTube has an array of videos that can explain most information in a fun and kid-friendly way. We will read together and watch a few videos, then together we will explore where things are located on her body and have a discussion about it. This often leads to hours of learning. (Where is my heart? Where does food go after I swallow it? What is this bump between my shoulder and wrist called? What is breathing?) She recently asked, "What is a goose?" Things like that are excellent gateways to learning.
- Sorting. This is a Montessori concept that I like a lot. You don't have to do Montessori to get anything out of this activity. The truth is, young kids LOVE to sort things out. Sometimes I will give A some colored puff balls and a pair of tiny tongs and let her sort them all out. This makes their little minds work to categorize and identify objects. This activity can last for a few minutes or a few hours, depending on your child's interest. It is definitely worth trying, though.
- Stickers. Give them a pad of stickers and a blank book and let them go to town. Just like the sorting activity, they are often learning to identify different objects and sticky pieces of paper are a fantastic medium for them to do it with!
I hope this post has given you some ideas for things to do at home with your child. If you want, feel free to check out my Pinterest boards. I love to pin kid activities!
As always, if you have a suggestion for a topic you would like to see us talk about, leave it in the comments or send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next week!