All Toys are NOT created equal! Open ended toys like manipulatives provide the greatest opportunity for learning. Manipulatives are things that can be “manipulated”, like legos, blocks, magnets. One of my favorites, that my children still use after 9 years, is “Tall Stackers Pegs Building Sets”. They have built so many variations of structures I couldn’t possibly count! ***Make sure to like our page or follow the blog to receive constant tips and ideas for learning at home
Today I brought a small shopping cart along and empowered my 5 and 3 year old to help pick and carry groceries (taking turns). Half way through my 5 year old said, “Mommy my legs aren’t even tired.” Not only did they get exercise (rather than sit in my cart the whole time bored and full of pent up energy I have to deal with later), they were so proud of themselves. When my 7 year old came home from school my 5 year old bragged she did the shopping! I personally hate grocery shopping and add children to the mix and it often can be unbearable… but I learned by engaging them in the responsibility, making it an activity we can do together, it can be a peaceful experience instead and a great learning one too! – Jodi Healy
With the constant visual stimulus we are all subjected to (through television, digital media, smart phones, digital billboards, IPADS, etc), we often forget the benefits of just listening, pure audio. Children love to listen to music, people talking, and hearing stories! Listening is an important part of development for reading, cognition, problem solving, and more. I found one of the best opportunities I have for this is driving in the car. I figure since we spend so much time there, I could do something positive with that time; expose them to different types of songs, cultures, music, and stories. My children love listening just as much as watching a movie, and I feel good I am doing something educational. They learn and listen quietly, while I have a chance to make those necessary phone calls! A win win situation. – Jodi Healy
Playing store is a great activity with many opportunities for learning, and setting it up is just as fun! I have my children collect empty cereal, pasta boxes, egg containers, plastic containers, or whatever they can find (that is clean) from the recycle bins or cupboards to sell. I help make fake money, find fake credit cards (old library cards or business cards work great), and some change (my 7 years old can do this herself now and loves the challenge). If you don’t have a cashier a calculator works and an old Easter basket/basket works great if you don’t have a shopping cart. I grab a few old bags lying around for filling up the groceries after someone has paid. I faciliate the first few minutes, play a shopper and explain things… but if your children have ever gone shopping with you they know what to do! I even leave our store set up for a few days and they go back again and again. It is hours of fun and learning (changing money, counting, planning, organizing, role playing, and more).