Saturday, July 12, 2008

Stimulating language, literacy & learning in holidays - Part 2

This is the second post on the topic "Stimulating language, literacy and learning in holidays". You can read part one here. In the last post I covered some "Basic Issues" and four topics:

1. Books with a difference
2. Writing
3. Language Experience
4, Outings

Here is the second instalment.

5. Craft

If you're imaginative you can come up with your own ideas. If you're not, and want a good website try Kids Craft Weekly (which is outstanding).

a) Planned craft could include - simple beadwork, noodle craft, mask making, making plaster moulds (and painting them), anything for young children that requires paper tearing, gluing, glitter, stickers.
b) Simple activity books that you might buy - discount shops like Reject Shops, Teks, Go-Lo etc often have stacks of colouring in books, dot-to-dot, alphabet, pre-reading etc. Not really all craft, but they combine some colouring with word play etc (don't do too much of this).
c) Unstructured creative craft needs materials - stock up when you go to the supermarket with simple materials like paper plates (good for masks), brown paper bags, sticky tape, glue, cotton balls, tooth picks, paper cupcake holders, straws (cutting up and threading), noodles (for threading).
d) Reverse Garbage - The Reverse Garbage is a not-for-profit co-operative that sells industrial discards, off-cuts and over-runs to the public for creative uses. They have been operating in Marrickville for 31 years (this one is for Sydney people only, but there may be equivalents in other places). Take the kids as an excursion, let them choose some stuff then take it home to use.

6. Creative play for younger children (under 5 years)

a) Dress-up box - if you haven't got one take the kids to the Op shop to start one. You might even pick up some gems like old helmets, hats, belts (you can cut them down), handbags etc.

b) Water play - this is hard in winter, but maybe you could make bath-time special for littlies with extra bubbles, different stuff to take in it. In warmer weather give them a bucket of water and some things to scoop, sieve etc - BUT ONLY UNDER SUPERVISION, kids can drown in a few inches of water, even in a bucket.

c) Play dough - Carmen's can't fail recipe: 1 tablespoon of oil, 1 cup of plain flour, 0.5 cup of cooking salt, 2 tablespoons Cream of Tartar, 1 cup of water, colouring. Mix together and put in a saucepan on medium heat until it binds together, stirring all the time. Fold together by hand. If you keep it in a sealed plastic bag it will last for ages in or outside the fridge.

There are endless things to do with play dough. Try to move beyond just cutting out shapes (which kids still love). Encourage them to make a house, a farmyard, a bed, and an aquarium. Use some plastic animals with the play dough or small plastic people. If you don't mind tossing the play dough out you can let them use sticks, plants etc to make simple dioramas. Kids will create complex stories as they manipulate the play dough.

Above: Jacob (5), Rebecca (3) and Elsie 18 months playing with play dough

d) Bubbles - can't go wrong with bubbles.

e) Balloons - blow them up, let them go, kick them around, let out the air to make noises (boys love it!), try some helion ones and let them go, etc.

f) Build a cubby house - no not with wood, just use a table, some chairs, wardrobes (hitch the blankets into the top of the doors, some pegs and sheets and blankets. By draping them over other objects you should be able to create a special space (about 2x2 metres is enough for three small kids). Try to get at least 1.5 metres of height. Have the kids 'help' and then get them to collect some special things to have in the cubby. Use a toy box for a table, some cushions to sit on. I always let my grandchildren have my cheap transistor radio from my shed (lots of fun). Girls might like a tea set; boys will collect animals and toys, both will like books. If you're up to it, climb in as well and read some stories. They'll like the edges tucked in to cut out light so you might need a torch. I've seen a cubby of this kind amuse kids for half a day. Then of course for the adventurous you can share some snack food as well.

Above: Jacob in a 'house' that he made (with help) from a box we saved

7. Other random ideas

a) Treasure hunts - write the clues on paper using words and pictures depending on ages and make the treasure worthwhile (chocolate, a coupon for an ice cream in the kitchen etc).

b) Board games (see my previous post here)

c) Have movie a day (or night) - hire a special video, make some choc-top ice creams (using something like 'Ice Magic'), make some popcorn, draw the blinds, switch off the lights and watch it with them. This works well with pizza as a substitute for dinner (Nicole does the latter regularly with her kids)

d) Cooking - kids love cooking with their mothers or fathers. Do simple stuff; Nicole has talked about this a number of times at 168 Hours.

e) Household chores - I know that Nicole has blogged on this; Jake and Rebecca just loved washing the outside windows. Give them a bucket, sponges, scraper etc and they'll have fun. They'll enjoy gardening as well (give them a confined and simple task) if you do it with them.

f) Scavenger hunts - endless ideas for this, great in the park or in a yard. For a great variation try an insect scavenger hunt. You'll be surprised just how many you can find. You'll to be careful turning rocks over and digging around, but even in Australia it's low risk if you supervise. Place a pile of bricks in a damp place and then let the kids help you to uncover them a few days later - watch the critters scurry.

g) Computer activities - don't forget that even children as young as two will love using a computer to play kids games, search for information, listen to stories, download colouring-in (including lost of sites that relate to specific movies and videos)

8. Some good kids websites (just a sample)

Postman Pat
Clifford the big red dog
Animal homes (games etc)
The Playground ABC Kids
Thomas and Friends
Kids Discovery (older kids) - play games; build your own volcano etc
Google Earth (older kids can explore their world)

I hope the ideas in both posts offer a few new ideas, or maybe just reminders of things you have forgotten. With all the ideas the aim has been to:
  • Stimulate creativity
  • Encourage exploration and discovery
  • Use their hands as well as their minds
  • Encourage interaction between you and your children
  • Foster literacy development
  • Increase their knowledge
  • Keep them interested
Good luck!

No comments: