With spring seemingly around the corner, parents can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they can soon start to pack away winter coats and accessories for yet another year. It is a time for renewed interest in escaping to the outdoors and planning excursions that will help beat the winter blues. For preschoolers, trips to the local science centre, art gallery or zoo can provide a myriad of experiential learning opportunities and an excellent foundation for making real-world connections. There is also plenty of fun to be had in the comfort of one’s own home. But whether the sun is here to stay or if Jack Frost won’t go away, it is best to be prepared with a variety of ideas that will help keep boredom at bay, all the while developing your child’s sense of adventure.
Since the day they were born, children experience the world through their five senses, which actually kick in while in utero. Their sense of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell are stimulated on a daily basis, from the sound of building blocks tumbling to the ground or the smell of cookies baking in the oven. Preschoolers are naturally curious about their environment so why not harness their innate desire to explore by setting out on mini-adventures? Here are some ideas that you can try:
- Get outdoors for a leisurely stroll to take in the sights and sounds of spring. Use a magnifying glass to look for new plant life that may be spurting up from the ground or make a set of binoculars using toilet paper rolls and go bird watching. How many different animal sounds can you hear?
- If you’re stuck indoors, pull out your stash of costumes, old clothes and accessories. Have them use a mirror to see what they look like before putting on a fashion show and posing for pictures. Or encourage imaginative play by re-enacting their favourite story.
- Set up a little corner store with items from the pantry or the toy box and label them with prices using sticky notes. Price them according to your child’s mathematical ability and give them real money to spend. This will provide practical use of basic math skills while also reinforcing the notion that money can’t buy everything.
- Invite the kids into the kitchen to prepare a simple snack or baked good. Learning to follow a recipe not only helps build literacy skills, it also provides real-life application of measurement and math skills. Why not set up a sensory station while you’re there? While the kids have their eyes closed, they can dip their hands into one of a series of bowls that can contain different fruits or vegetables for a mystery taste test. Have them describe the flavours and smells as well as the different textures before making their final guess.
- Bring out the craft supplies and allow your children’s inner Picasso to explore elements of art by going on a scavenger hunt in your home. Look for different kinds of texture and take a crayon rubbing using various colours. Help them cut out basic shapes from their texture rubbings and create patterned designs by gluing them on a piece of construction paper
- You can also visit DisneyJunior.ca for colouring pages, puzzles and games for some fun and learning that your kids will surely love.
Just remember, children can benefit from different types of play and varying levels of interactivity. Don’t worry so much about being by their side all day long. Allow them room for independent and unstructured play so that they can explore and discover what their interests are. To them, it’s all one great big adventure.
Article by Diana Mancuso, Blogger at Toronto Teacher Mom