Weekend Wonders: Discovering Playtime with Your Kids

It's Friday again! And with spring right around the corner, there are plenty of opportunities to get outside with your kids as they learn about the world around them. Even if you're more of indoors person, we have some great ideas for you and your little ones to get involved in together as they learn!

1. Take a Nature Walk

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"Children's nature collections breathe life into displays." -Mary Ann Rody -Take your child by the hand for a walk through a neighborhood park to collect treasures such as pinecones, twigs, bark, wild flowers, and leaves to stimulate their imaginations. After gathering items they find interesting, they make decisions about displaying their collections. Back at home, children can investigate their collections, sorting by attributes, uniqueness and personal preferences to decide which are special to them. Image Tips for sorting found materials:

  • Designate a space with baskets, buckets, and clear containers
  • Provide a wooden table with dividers
  • Use a shelf with bins that can easily be removed for re-sorting on the floor
  • Offer outdoor window boxes or containers placed near their door

-When children investigate materials, they develop a sense of ownership toward their collections. You can add to your child's collection with every nature walk you take, giving them something to look forward to each time! Did you enjoy this activity? Find more like it in the book "Inspiring Spaces for Young Children."

2. Make Someone Else's Day

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-Our Granny by Margaret Wild has creative text and imaginative illustrations, but even more, it can be used as a means to encourage children to reach out to their grandparents. Provide your little one with art materials and set them free painting a picture for a grandparent or another special person. Ask your child to tell you all the things that make this person special and write down what they share. Put the art and the special list in an envelope and mail it to your little one's special person. Extra: After the letter has been received, schedule a visit for your little one to see their special person! Everyone loves a little visitor. Did you enjoy this activity? Find more like it in the book "The Homegrown Preschooler."

3. Hang a Print Mobile

-Children collect and use a variety of environmental print to create mobiles! Image Materials:

  • a variety of environmental print, such as paper, styrofoam, plastic, and cardboard packaging, cups, and plates; catalogs and magazines; container lids, junk CD's, etc
  • hole punch
  • scissors
  • string or yarn
  • wooden dowels, clothes hangers, or long spaghetti boxes

Preparation:

  1. Cut and punch holes in plastic and heavy cardboard environmental print as needed.
  2. Pound out or sand any rough edges left by holes.
  3. Cut yarn or string to varied lengths, about 12" to 18".

-Literacy interactions: Discuss a topic that can be represented through environmental print, such as toys, colors, food groups, or shapes. Get children to gather materials from home that reflect the topic. Explain what a mobile is and assist as needed while they cut out, punch holes, and attach string to the print they want to include in their mobiles. Let children hang print items on a dowel, hanger, or long box (with holes punched in it.) When they are finished, they can "read" the print and share stories about their mobile! Did you enjoy this activity? Find more like it in the book "Everyday Literacy."

4. We Make Shadows

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-Shadows are always a curious phenomenon for children to experience and learn about. What to do:

  1. Explain that shadows are visible on sunny days and occur when something gets in the way of the sun or any major source of light.
  2. Explain that shadows can be made indoors by putting something in front of bright light.
  3. Let your kiddo experiment with moving in front of the beam of light. Encourage them to make silly movements as they please. Note that when children are not in the light that their shadows disappear.
  4. Attach newsprint to an easel and position the easel in front of a light source. Let your child create a silhouette by sitting between the easel and the light source. Ask your little ones to sit as quietly as possible as you trace their outline onto the newsprint.
  5. Help the children cut out the shadow and trace it onto black construction paper. Cut out the black silhouette and have your child glue it onto a piece of colored construction paper.

Did you enjoy this activity? Find more like it in the book "The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities." We hope you enjoyed these weekend activities, even more, the time you were able to spend with your kids. Have a great weekend!


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