Turn off the TV and play!

Spring is looking better than ever after the cold winter we45385538 had.  I’m so ready for the color, the warmth and the time to be outside.  We know that there may still be some windy, chilly days ahead and to avoid the ‘spring fever’ grumbling, here are a few ideas to engage children in fun learning activities.

  • Have a picnic outside if it’s nice, inside if it’s not.  Grab a couple of books, a blanket and enjoy a relaxing lunch on the floor.  Make it a color picnic if you wish, and incorporate all the foods, clothes, and walk looking for items of a specific color.
  • Rice or beans are a great sensory items for children to play with in a small tote or container.  Place it on a tablecloth or sheet for easy clean up and allow them to pour, fill, dump and measure with different containers.
  • On a nice day, go on a walk and look for different rocks.  Later when it’s not so nice, or when they are looking for things to do, use an egg carton to sort the rocks by size or shape.  You can wash them, paint them, or glue them together or on a shoe box lid to make a ‘rock garden’.  If you desire, add eyes and hair for your own ‘pet rock’.
  • Using a plastic cup, old nylons, dirt and grass seed, you can grow your own Critter.  Sprinkle grass seeds in the bottom, and then fill the toe of the  nylon with about 1 cup of potting soil.  Tie the end closed and place the tied end down in a cup.  Sprinkle daily with water, place it in the sunshine and watch for the ‘hair’ to grow.
  • Garden catalogs are a great place for learning for children.  Some can look at the pictures and help to choose items they would like to grow in containers or in the family garden.  Others can use it as a math lesson to add up the cost or even lay out the garden on graph paper.  Keep your records from year to year so that you can tell what you had too much of or ran out of the year before.  This is great for children to try new vegetables, to see them grow and care for them, then to harvest may expand the foods they like.
  • Make your own bubble solution in a bucket or tub.  Use berry baskets, cups with straws in it or other kitchen utensils to make fun bubble shapes.
  • In an old squeeze bottle, mix equal parts of flour, salt and water.  Add enough dry tempera paint to color the mixture.  Squeeze onto cardboard or poster board to make a design.  Allow to dry before mounting on the refrigerator art gallery.
  • Using a water bottle or 2 liter bottle fill 2/3 full with water and the rest with cooking oil.  Add items like paper clips, feathers, rock, glitter, etc to either sink or float.  Secure the lid with either duct tape or hot glue to make sure it stays on and allow for hours of fun.  Great idea for older siblings to do for infants and toddlers.

You may have many other ideas once you get started; the idea is to turn off 30326052the TV, or computer and spend some family time together.  These ideas are great ways to build family communication and relationships while allowing children to explore their world through play.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to discover new toys or go somewhere to do things together.  Allowing both structured and free play at home is important for children to learn what they like to do and interests to pursue.  If you have faced unemployment or budget cuts in your home, remember that it affects children, too.  Children depend on their parents for emotional security and when you are stressed your child is too.  Why not try to spend a little time today discovering the world of play?  You both will be glad you did.

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