AS a parent, you are your child’s first teacher. Your home is a place where lots of learning is happening every day.
Your most important job when it comes to your child’s learning is to show an interest and get involved. You make a difference every day when you talk to and listen to your child. This is what helps your child the most.
But if you’re running out of ideas check out the National Adult Literacy Agency’s website for parents called Help My Kid Learn.ie
It includes hundreds of fun activities that can be done in the home or outside. And best of all, the activities will help children to learn without them even realising it. All you have to do is enter your child’s age into the website and you will find lots of suitable fun activities to do with them.
Next time you hear the dreaded “I’m bored” or if you’re just desperate to drag them away from the TV or iPad, try some of these fun activities:
Eat an Alphabet
Get your kids to describe how hungry they are – starting with the letter A take turns. The trick is to remember what everyone said before you. I’m so hungry I could eat an Apple. I’m so hungry I could eat an Apple and a Banana. I’m so hungry I could eat an Apple, Banana and a Cat!
Count to 100, every time you get to a number that’s divisible by seven (7, 14, 21) or has a seven in it (17), say “Buzz” instead of the number. For older kids, to make it even harder say Fuzz for every number with a three or that’s divisible by three. If you make a mistake it’s the next person’s turn. The first to get to 100 wins.
Draw a circle on the ground. Each player puts 4 marbles inside the circle – it’s best if everyone picks a colour. Take turns trying to knock each other’s marbles out of the circle with one large marble. If you knock your own marble out it goes back into the centre!
One person counts to 10 while the rest of the players scatter. When 10 is reached everyone freezes in their spot. The person counting takes 4 giant steps towards the closest person and tries to hit them with the ball. If they hit, that person gets a letter ‘S’ but if they miss then they get the letter. Now it’s the other person’s time to count. Players get knocked out whenever they reach SPUD – hit or missed 4 times – ouch!
Everyone’s made a fortress right? The next rainy day that comes around, help your kids make their own supersized fortress in the sitting room. All you need is a couple of chairs or a table covered with a blanket – they’ll stay busy all day long playing make-believe inside.
Make rain sticks
All you need is a cardboard tube, some dry rice, tinfoil, tape and long pipe cleaners or bent up wire hangers. Have your child colour and decorate the tube to their heart’s content. Then coil some pipe cleaners or wire inside the tube and close-up one end with tin foil and tape. Now pour in some rice and secure the other end with more tin foil and tape. That’s it – your kid now has a rain stick they can turn upside down to make lovely rain sounds.
All you have to do is tell your child a basic colour and challenge them to tell you 20 items that are this colour – get them to name 50 items if they are older. You can make it even more difficult by setting a time limit and make them race against one another!
Everyone gets to ask one person up to 20 YES or NO questions to find out what they are? Are you a colour? Are you a person? Are you an animal? Do you have four legs? Do you have horns? Do you have stripes?
Odd one out
Someone calls out four things but one is the odd one out. Blue, Green, Banana, White. First person to call out the odd item wins that round and gets to choose the next four items.
Put 10 things from around the house on a tray and ask your child to look at them for a few seconds. Then take them away and ask them to call out what they remember. Another way of playing the game is to cover the items, take one thing away and ask your child to spot what is missing. You can put more things out as they get better.
Don’t say YES or NO
One person asks the other a question to which ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ is the obvious answer. For example, ‘Do you live in a house?’ The other person has to answer the question without saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. If they make a mistake and say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ then they lose and get to ask the questions.
Write different items on strips of paper (house, bicycle, car) and put them in a box. Tape a large piece of paper to the wall and get the first player to pick a strip of paper. Then blindfold them and ask them to draw the item. Everyone else takes turns trying to name the item and the first one to get the right answer wins a point. The person with the most points wins.
What’s the story?
Make up your own story – each person contributes a line that builds a story, one sentence at a time. I know a boy called Jack. He’s a naughty boy. He has a dog called Fetch that fetches sticks but never gives them back. One day…
One minute of words
Everyone gets a pencil and paper. Someone has to be the timekeeper, they pick a letter, tell everyone and players write as many words as possible that start with that letter. When a minute is up, the timekeeper shouts ‘Stop!’ and all the players put down their pencils. Whoever has the most words wins.
Be a botanist
Scavenger hunts are great in woods or at the beach. Each kid gets a bag or box and have to find as many different types of leaves, flowers, shells or fossils as possible. When you get home look up books or Google what you find together – even better, stick them into a scrapbook and help your kid to write a description of everything.
What was that?
Name all the sounds you can hear – who can name the most? Can you hear the insects…you have to be very, very, VERY quiet…
Concentration is a great family card game. Shuffle the cards and divide them face down in front of each player. On each turn, a player turns over two cards (one at a time) and keeps them if they match numbers or pictures. If they successfully match a pair, that player also gets to take another turn. When a player turns over two cards that do not match numbers, those cards are turned face down again and it becomes the next player’s turn. The person with the most pairs wins!
FOR MORE IDEAS...
Play is one of the most effective ways children learn and the National Adult Literacy Agency’s website helpmykidlearn.ie is packed full of fun ideas that will entertain kids and also support their literacy and numeracy development.