Playtime with your child should be fun and stimulating for both you and your child. While your little one is learning from your behavior, you can take cues from your child as to his or her learning style and attention span. These two items will be extremely helpful in modifying any educational activities to keep your child's interest so that learning will be fun and enjoyable for the both of you.
Most activities listed here involve you giving complete attention to the child. This is a time of discovering and exploring new ways to learn and have fun together. Get down on the floor with your child for some quality block building or sit down at the craft table and color with him or her. Your child will want to do what you are doing and feel proud to be included in an activity with you.
Great Games to Play With Toddlers
This is great to do when you're cooking dinner and can't leave the kitchen anyway. Simply fill a dishpan full of soapy water for your child to play in and put it down on the kitchen floor. She will love putting her hands in the bubbly water and not to mention spreading it all over the floor. Add some bath toys for added splashes of fun. Clean up is a snap since all that is needed is a dry towel to wipe up the spills. Added bonus, the floor got washed… if only in a three foot square area!
This is the simplest game to play and often the most enjoyable for most toddlers. All that is needed are items that make noise. Look around your home, especially the kitchen cabinets. Plastic bowls placed upside down on the floor make great drums and wooden spoons work well for the drum sticks. Metal lids to sauce pans work well for cymbals. Looking for a maraca? Try a plastic container filled with dry pasta. Holiday decorations are great places to look for bells that mimic a tambourine. Get creative with your child. He or she will love making noise no matter how fancy the instrument.
We've all seen those colorful stacking rings on a pole sold by most retailers, but have you ever thought of anything else to do with them besides align them by size on a pole? Sit down on the floor with your child and watch your child's eyes light up in amazement when you stand a ring up on its side and let it roll on the floor.
Twirling the rings also brings lots of laughs from the little ones as well. As your child gets more control over her motor skills, let her join in the fun. Each of you sits in an opposite side of the room and rolls your rings toward each other. If there's a crash in the center, cheer! If not, try again. This game works well with other toys besides rings. Try using a ball or even small toy cars.
Even for the youngest toddlers, this game is very simple. With parent and child sitting on the floor facing each other the parent rolls the ball toward the toddler. If the toddler gets her hands on it, cheer her on to roll the ball back to you.
Does your toddler have a sock drawer that is complete chaos? Organize it with the help of your child. Sorting socks is a great way for your child to feel helpful and learn to recognize similarities of objects while you accomplish a goal of cleaning up the mismatched mayhem. This also works well on laundry day when there may be piles of socks to sort through for the entire family. She will love to see how big her parent's socks are in comparison to her socks.
Sorting doesn't need to stop there. Does she have building blocks to play with that are different shapes and colors? Dump them out on the floor and ask her to help you make piles of the same color or shape. Say the colors and shapes aloud so that she may begin to recognize the names of each and repeat them as well. Before long she will be able to tell you what color and shape they are.
This is a great role-playing game to help teach appropriate behavior in social situations. Get out all of her stuffed animals, dolls or even dinosaurs to be the partiers and set them around the room. The parent will begin the role play by choosing two or more party-goers and start up a conversation between them.
Start with a very simple dialogue such as, "Hi there. How are you today?" Then the other partier can answer, "Very well thank you. How are you?" Maybe one animal would like to play with a toy that another animal already has. The parent may do a simple dialogue to show an example of how to properly ask to play with that toy and how to react to the response of either a yes or no answer. In an effort not to lose the attention of your child, typical party dances and activities with the animals should add to the fun factor of this game.
Attack a Snack
This game is a great way to introduce your child to counting, addition and subtraction while getting in a healthy snack at the same time. Put out a counted number of dry cereal pieces such as 10, on a table in front of your child while keeping more handy in a bowl out of sight. Count each piece as you slowly move it closer to your child.
For example, put your finger on one piece of cereal and say, "This is one" while you move it closer to your child. Next, put your finger on another piece of cereal and move that one next to the first saying, "Plus one makes two. This is one, two." Follow this until all 10 are in front of your child. If she hasn't eaten any yet, ask her to choose one to eat and then count the pieces that are left. Add some more from your reserve bowl. When they are all eaten the game is finished.
If your child is too young to go out and play in the snow, try bringing the snow in for her. Lay out some towels on the floor. Fill a bucket with snow and then place it on your towels. Let her touch the snow and feel how cold it is. Describe the snow to her as cold, white, wet and so on. Pack the snow into three balls, each on a bit larger than the first. Assemble them on the towels to make a snowman. The snowman can then be decorated as desired with items that are safe for a toddler to handle such as a hat, scarf. Take a picture because this work of art is sure to melt soon being indoors.
Great Games to Play With Children Ages 2 to 4
This is very similar to the toddler version with the added benefit of learning the alphabet. Each time you or your child puts your hands on the ball, say the next letter of the alphabet. This can also work with counting each time you or your child touches the ball.
Pick Up Colors
Dump out all the crayons that your child has on the table or area that you usually color at. Enjoy a few minutes of quality coloring with your child taking the time to name each color that you choose as you create your own work of art along with your child.
When it is time to clean up make a game out of saying the color of each crayon that you put back in the crayon box. You may want to say the color in a silly accent or tone of voice to make it a more playful experience for your child. The more giggles you get the longer and more interested your child will be at joining you in naming the colors. She may even want to dump them all out again just to pick them back up and get a few more giggles.
Kids love music and, even more, they love making a lot of noise. Encourage it in a structured way by pretending to be a marching band. Grab any musical instruments that she may already have or make some out of household items that are available to you.
For example, give your child a wooden spoon and a plastic bowl and she's got herself a drum. Uncooked macaroni inside of a sealed plastic container rattles just like a maraca and bells from holiday decorations make a great replacement for a tambourine. After you've got all the musical instruments ready, line up with your child at the front of the parade and make your way around the house playing as if both of you are in a real marching band.
Dress Up / Role Play
If your little one is a darling girl then she will enjoy dressing up as a mom and taking on the mother role with her dolls and toy friends. Equip her with some plastic spoons and paper bowls and plates that can be handled a bit rough and take the punishment. She will love to feed them and of course change their diapers and give them a bath.
For this you can pretend to change the diaper using nothing more than your imagination and a dry cloth. Pretend to take off the imaginary diaper and then let her "clean" the baby with the dry cloth. Then put on a new imaginary diaper and she's all set and ready for playtime. When it comes time to give the baby a bath, leave out the water if her doll is not able to be submerged. A dry dishpan or baby tub works well and let her imagination take the place of the water. Be on the lookout when your child decides to put her "babies" down for a nap. She may demand that you are quiet so that her babies are not woken up!
If your little one is a boy he will still love to take on the parent role. He may not get into the dressing and caring part of the role play, but he will enjoy showing his "little ones" how to play with his toys and showing them several of his books.
Parent role play is only one option. If you've got a long white button down shirt that your child can wear as a doctor's coat, you're well on your way to role playing doctor or even better, veterinarian. Let your child check out all of her stuffed animals for health and wellness by counting their eyes, ears and noses along with making sure that they can walk and sit up.
Use your imagination to think up more things for your child to check depending on the capabilities of the stuffed animals that are pretend patients. For example, if your child has a stuffed dog that make a barking noise, ask your child to ask the dog questions and let the dog bark for the answers. If your child has another toy that can walk on its own, let your child teach the toy to walk and then reward its accomplishments.
Peeling and sticking stickers to a piece of paper to create a work of art is not only fun and engaging to a child but it also builds fine motor skills. As the child learns to bend the sticker paper just right and grab a hold of a corner of the sticker to peel it off, they are learning more than just accomplishing an immediate goal of getting the sticker.
They are learning patience as they keep trying to get that sticker just right and also building fine motor skills in grasping the sticker to peel it off the paper. Creating works of art are great for building imagination and creativity. This work of art is sure to be one to hang on the refrigerator.
Sure this is one of the messiest playtime activities that your preschooler can get into, but let's face it: preschoolers love to get messy! Do this activity in a controlled environment by making sure your child has on clothes that can take a stain or two and is in a place that is easy to clean up afterward. Then sit back and let her go. Her smile will be reward enough that this activity is worth any amount of mess and the work of art that she will create can be hung on a wall to show how her creativity is blossoming.
Yes, indoor soccer! Preschoolers don't often have the leg strength and coordination to kick a soccer ball very hard and loft it into the air. If your child can accomplish one of these actions you may want to rethink where this activity takes place. As you kick the soccer ball back and forth to each other, count the kicks. See how many times you can kick the ball to each other before one of you misses. It's a great counting game and gets you both up on your feet.
Freeze Dance / Dance Party
Kids love music so why not turn off the television and turn on the stereo to uplifting music with a great dancing beat. Go wild with your child dancing around the house laughing and truly enjoying yourselves. The more you get into it, the more your child will get into it and dance off any pent up energy she may have.
If Freeze Dance is the option there are several ways to go about it. The easiest way is to simply play the music and dance. When the music is turned off everybody freezes until the music turns back on again. If your child wants to get into the freezing action but is not allowed to touch the power button on the stereo that is playing, simple red and green signs may be constructed that she can use to accomplish the same thing.
Using two pieces of construction paper, one red and one green, and two wooden sticks along with glue you and your child can create stop and go signs together. Draw a circle on each piece of paper that will be the size of your sign. Cut out the circles. On the red circle write STOP. On the green circle write GO. Using the glue attach the wooden stick to the sign. After the signs are dry and ready to be used, your child can hold one sign in each hand and simply raise the red STOP sign when it's time to freeze and then raise the green GO sign when it's time to dance again.
Slap a Card
This is a great game to play with nothing more than a deck of cards and two or more players. The parent should be the dealer and the children should be the players. The dealer names which color should be slapped, either red or black. As the dealer flips over cards from the deck, the players should attempt to be the first to slap any cards of the named color. The first to slap the card gets to keep the card. If a player slaps a card that is the wrong color that player loses all of his or her cards. When the dealer finishes the deck the players should count their cards. The player with the most cards wins.
For players that are a bit beyond acknowledging colors, modify this game to odd or even numbers or multiples of a chosen number.
Tour the House
Tell your child that it's time to take a tour of the house on a hunting adventure. Play this up by putting on special hats and dressing for the occasion. Draw on a piece of paper a specific shape. Tell your child the name of the shape and explain that the two of you are hunting for items in the house that are the same shape. As you walk from room to room speak with a tone of surprise as you each find the shape.
This may also be modified by finding a particular color or texture. For instance, the two of you can hunt down all of the soft items in your home such as blankets, pillows, towels and stuffed toys.
This activity is great for teaching alternative uses for common items found in the home. Use books to build tunnels for toy cars to drive under by stacking them up in two piles and then using a larger book to connect the tops for a roof. Blocks can be used to build towers for toy trucks to drive through and knock down. Pillows make great mountains for toy animals or cars to climb and fall down from. Paper cups can provide entertainment by stacking them, nesting them or just using them as targets for marbles to be rolled into.
Cut and Glue
Utilizing scissors is a skill that takes some work to learn. At first your child may simply make cuts along the outer edges of a piece of paper and accidentally cut out triangle shapes. The next step would be to cut a continuous line. From there your child can learn to cut out shapes. Cutting shapes and then gluing them onto another piece of paper to create a work of art brings whole new life to craft time.
Great Games for Children in Kindergarten and First Grade
Children at this age are learning so many things about the world around them. They are like sponges soaking up all of the knowledge that they are given.
Many children enjoy just having a creative outlet where they can express themselves in whatever medium is available. Some children will enjoy the less messy forms of artistic creation such as crayons, pencils, markers and water colors. Others will navigate more to the messier side of creative expression which include but is not limited to finger paints, play dough and the new glitter glues that are available at many craft stores.
Try not to limit your child's imagination to the neater side of creativity just because you're dreading the messy cleanup afterward. Instead, join in. Finger painting can be therapeutic to parents as well as a form of creative expression for children.
If cleanup afterward has got you tense, have this activity performed in an area that can take the mess. Set up an easel in the backyard and let your child go wild. Clean up before anyone comes into the house and you've got nothing to worry about. If painting outside is not an option but you still dread the cleanup afterward, try this idea. Have a bowl of water available for your child to use freely on construction paper or other paper that will absorb the water and make an impression.
If creating outside is an option for you, try side walk chalk. This works well for children to color on just about anything. The top of a picnic table will never be bare and boring if you've got a child who likes to draw and a box of side walk chalk. The bonus to this activity is that every time it rains the table is washed clean and ready for a new creation to be made on it.
Side walk chalk also works well on patio floors, driveways, and rock walls. If your child doesn't think of it before you, have a bucket of water handy for chalk to be soaked in. Coloring with the water soaked chalk will make for a whole new effect. This will be more like paint and bring another level to the activity.
If you're the type of parent that isn't bothered by a mess and lives by the motto of "life's messy, we can clean it up" here are some ideas for you. When your child is learning to write he or she may be less than willing to use a pencil and paper. To initially get the idea across of how the letters and numbers are made try these ideas. Shaving cream makes for a great medium to write with your finger in. Spread some out on a craft table and let your child finger paint in it to form letters and numbers. It will be messy fun and teach the method of writing. Play dough is another great way to teach how letters and numbers are formed. This method is not as messy as the shaving cream and helps define your child's fine motor skills in rolling and creating the letters and numbers.
This is where you need to get creative yourself and show your child the options he or she has available. The options available the more your child will stay interested and want to create with you.
This game never gets old no matter how old your child gets. With simple modifications this game can also be educational. Have all of the players sit on the floor in a circle. Using a ball as the potato, each player rolls it to another player as fast as they can. Before the game begins someone chooses a word. Each time a player touches the ball they need to say a word that rhymes with the chosen word. If they cannot think of one, they are out. The last player left is the winner and gets to choose the next word to play again.
Dump a Cup
This game requires a plastic cup, two dice, stickers, a piece of paper and a writing utensil whether it be a pencil or crayon. Choose an order for the players to play in. The first player puts the dice in the cup, shakes them a bit and then dumps the dice on the floor. The player then must write down the numbers on the dice and then add them together.
Each time they get the answer correct they get a sticker to stick on themselves wherever they choose. This game can get very silly as it goes by quickly and stickers tend to be stuck all over the players. Keep the laughs going and the speed going while helping those players that need the extra help to keep them interested in the game.
Believe it or not your kindergartener will love to play school at home. Let your child choose who plays which role and stay on your toes with sudden changes as he or she alters the role play until they are satisfied with the outcome. Let your child have control of this game whether you're playing the teacher or the student. You may be surprised at how much he or she has absorbed at school.
Create a list of rhyming words and write them down on paper. Ask your child if he or she can make a sentence using the words listed. If it seems to difficult, give it a try yourself to get the ball rolling. Make the sentences silly and laugh along to keep the moment light hearted and fun.
You will need a paper plate, scissors, construction paper, glue, makers or crayons and a wooden stick for the handle. It is easier to cut out the holes for the eyes first. Let your child go wild with creativity cutting shapes and designs and then gluing them onto the paper plate mask. Use the crayons and markers to color and decorate as well. When your child is satisfied with the decorations, use the glue to attach the wooden stick onto the paper plate for the handle.
Yes, that's right, good old fashioned board games with directions, pieces and of course a board. Your kindergartener is learning to read and follow instructions, which makes this type of play perfect. Help your child read the instructions step by step and then follow them to play the game.
The popular card game called "War" is perfect for kindergarteners to play. Its simple rules are easy to explain and remember and the game can last for as long as your child remains interested. The game is played using a full deck of cards. Deal out the cards into two face down piles of 26 cards. Have your child choose a pile to use and you take the remaining pile. Each of you flips over the top card of your pile and puts it face up in the center of the playing area. The person whose card is the highest in number wins the match and keeps both cards. If both cards have the same number on them, it's war!
Three cards should be placed face down in the playing area and then a fourth and final card is flipped over. The person whose fourth card is the highest wins all 10 cards on the playing area. When both of your original piles of 26 cards have been used, make a new pile using the cards won from previous matches. This game can continue until one person is completely out of cards. The person with the most cards wins.
Another great game to play is the ever popular "Go Fish". To play with kindergarteners it may be suggested that the first few games be played open-handed, all cards facing up so that the parent may help the child through the game until the child becomes confident to play on their own.
To play, deal out each player seven cards. The remaining cards go into a pile that should be located in the center of the playing area. Spread those cards out to make a "pool" of cards. The object of this game is to make pairs of cards or two cards of the same number.
When it is your turn, simply choose another player to ask if they have a card with a specified number on it. If they do, they must give you the card. If they don't they say "Go fish" and you choose a card from the "pool" in the center of the playing area. If a pair is made the player lays out the two cards on the playing area for the other players to see. The player with the most pairs wins.
School expectations of our children have changed dramatically over the years. Kindergarten is no longer considered playtime. Today's kindergarteners are reading, writing and applying math to daily activities. Preparing your child ahead of time may relieve some of the stress that children often feel when beginning school. The more exposure your child has to the alphabet, the more prepared he or she will be in school.
Children learn at different speeds and also have different learning styles. Discovering your child's learning rhythm will help you in keeping him or her interested in educational activities. This will also encourage him or her to want to learn. Make it fun and when it no longer feels fun find a new approach that may stimulate your child's thirst to learn again.
The following activities can be accomplished with the aid of 52 index cards and a permanent marker. To prepare the cards simply write a letter of the alphabet on each one beginning with all of the upper case letters and then continuing on with the lower case letters.
Be sure to keep one side of each card blank. After this step is accomplished, you're ready to explore the following alphabet activities. Enjoy and have fun with them. Keep the cards handy when you're finished as well. Your child may enjoy simply spreading them out on the floor and looking at them all.
Please note that these activities are appropriate for a wide range of age and knowledge. Tailoring them for your child's level will keep it fun and your child interested.
Start by arranging all of the upper case letters on the floor in alphabetical order. Go through each letter with your child taking out the ones he or she does not recognize. Review the letters that your child does know. Begin to add in the unknown letters one at a time without moving on to the next unknown letter until your child learns the name of the one just added. When your child is familiar with the entire upper case alphabet, begin adding in lower case letters.
This can be done as an entirely new set of letters arranged on the floor and accomplished the same way the upper case letters were, or you can show the relationship of upper case and lower case letters by following this technique. Arrange the upper case alphabet on the floor leaving space in between each letter. Go through the alphabet with your child.
After each upper case letter is named add the lower case letter of the same name in the empty space next to its upper case letter. Using this method your child will be able to see the relationship of each upper case and lower case letter. It will also help your child name the lower case letters since he or she already knows its upper case familiar.
Game of Recognition
Arrange all of the letters on the floor. Instruct your child to flip over the card of each letter that you name showing the blank side up. Continue naming letters until all of the cards are flipped over.
*Added modification: If all of the letter cards were arranged in alphabetical order, have your child name the letters on the cards as he or she flips them back over for another game.
Order Mix Up
After lying all of the alphabet cards on the floor, mix up the order. Ask your child to put the letters back into alphabetical order using only lower case letters, only upper case letters or both combined. If this seems too easy for your child, challenge him or her to put the letters in reverse alphabetical order starting with Z and ending in A.
Have your child sound out his or her name and pull out the letter cards to spell the name. Try spelling out the names of family members and friends as well.
Start referring to letters as either vowels or consonants. Identify the vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and the consonants (the other letters of the alphabet) with your child. Let your child sort out the two different groups of letters.
Explain to your child that each letter not only has a name but it also has a sound. Have your child choose a letter from the alphabet. After teaching him or her the sound the chosen letter makes, help him or her think of words that begin with that sound.
When this game becomes too easy for your child try this modification. Choose three to four letters that spell a word that names something found in the home. For example you could choose the letters C, A and T. Practice sounding out those three letters and slowly put them together to make a word.
The following activities can be accomplished using 100 blank index cards and a permanent marker. Simply write a number on each one beginning with number 1 and ending with number 100. If you already have flash cards that are blank on one side those may be used as well. It is important for some of these activities to have a blank side on the cards. Keep the cards handy when you're finished as well. Your child may enjoy simply spreading them out on the floor and looking at them all.
Please note that these activities are appropriate for a wide range of age and knowledge. Tailoring them for your child's level will keep it fun and your child interested.
As you flip through the cards in numerical order, count them out loud with your child. This activity is the starting point in learning numbers.
After going through the cards with your child, take out the numbers that your child is familiar with whether it is up to number 5, 10, or 20. Put the number cards down on the floor and mix them up. Ask your child to identify the numbers. You can also randomly select 5 or 6 cards and have your child identify the numbers.
This activity is helpful in teaching greatest to least values of the numbers. Randomly select 5 or 6 cards and lay them down on the floor. Have your child choose the number that represents the least. After your child becomes proficient at this task, ask him or her to put the numbers in order from greatest to least and vice versa.
Put all of the cards in groups of 10 leaving the 10, 20, 30, 40 etc. cards on top of each group. Count to 100 by 10's with your child. Arrange the cards in groups of five and count to 100 by 5's.
Another great way to show your child how to count by 2's, 5's etc. is to group objects such as socks, blocks, shoes or crayons in groups of the number your counting by. For example, if you're teaching your child how to count by 2, separate the objects into groups of 2. Have your child count them by ones and then show him or her how to count by twos. Label the pairs with the number cards for a visual tool to help your child.
To group the cards by odd and even numbers lay out the numbers 1 through 20 on the floor. Have your child count them aloud with you. Then turn over all of the odd numbered cards. Have your child count all of the even numbers with you. Then flip over the odd numbers and turn the even numbers blank side up. Have your child count all of the odd numbers with you. Some people call this skip counting.
Place all of the cards on the floor and arrange them in numerical order. Randomly select several cards and turn them over while your child has his or her eyes closed. Have him or her open his or her eyes and name the numbers that are missing or not showing. This method may also be used while teaching to count by fives and tens. Using only those numbers applicable, arrange them in numerical order on the floor or table and follow the same instructions above having your child identify the missing or turned over numbers.
What's Up Next
After mixing up all of the cards select one out of the deck. Have your child identify that number and then tell you what number would come next. If this activity seems too easy for your child try this modification. After choosing a number out of the deck, ask your child, "What number would be one more than this one?" Keep moving on with "What number would be two more, three more, four more, etc. than this one?"
What Came Before
After mixing up all of the cards select one out of the deck. Have your child identify that number and then tell you what number came before. If this activity seems too easy for your child try this modification. After choosing a number out of the deck, ask your child, "What number would be one less than this one?" Keep moving on with "What number would be two less, three less, four less, etc. than this one?"
What is In Between
Arrange the deck on the floor or table so that your child may choose two random cards. Have him or her identify the one that is less or least. After identifying the number, ask your child to count from the least number to the greatest number, which would be the other card that your child has chosen from the deck.
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