Springtime Engagement Activities for Young Learners
WEAKLEY COUNTY (March 31) – The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that time spent on a tablet or device be limited to no more than 60 minutes total per day for children 2-5 years of age. We know that young children learn best through play experiences. Since spring is the perfect time of the year to put the devices down and get outdoors, we asked Karen Fowler, PreK Family School Consultant for Weakley County Schools, to provide some suggestions for activities.
Walk the Line Outside – Using a piece of sidewalk chalk, draw different types of lines on a concrete area (zig zag, straight, curvy, etc.) and encourage your child to walk the line. This is a great way to practice coordination skills such as balancing, skipping, jumping, etc. No concrete area? Just gather some sticks, leaves and rocks, or whatever materials you may have, and create your lines on grass.
Outdoor Art – Children love to create with paint, playdough, markers, etc. Gather up whatever art materials you have, and head outdoors! It doesn’t have to be traditional art materials. Use things around your house like old magazines, junk mail, sandpaper, buttons, etc. Children love to cut and glue materials to create collages!
Making Math Fun – Think of a number and either call the number out or write it on concrete with sidewalk chalk. Encourage your child to gather up that many outdoor materials such as leaves, rocks, acorns, etc.
Colors of Nature – Gather some construction paper of various colors and take outside. Ask your child to find various things in the outdoor environment and sort them by color on the construction paper. (Examples include yellow flowers, brown acorn, green leaf, etc.)
Fine Motor – Take an old spray bottle, clean it out and fill it with water. Take it outside and let your child spray the house or sidewalk! This is a great way to build those fine motor muscles. If you have a sponge, they are great for squeezing and wringing the water out.
So, you have a rainy day and don’t know what to do other than watching TV or playing games on the tablet? No worries, you can use what you have in your home for fun, active learning opportunities. Here are just some examples:
Freeze Dance – Children love to dance, and they really love to dance with an adult! Use whatever fun music you have and dance till the music stops.
I Spy – Save two toilet paper tubes and make a pair of binoculars. You can use some string to run through them or just hold them up to your eyes like binoculars. Play “I Spy” with the binoculars. Start with the traditional way, “I spy with my little eyes, something red.” You can change it up by using numbers or rhyming words. For example, “I spy with my little eyes, something that rhymes with hat” (mat) This is also a great game to play in the car.
Nursery Rhymes – This is a perfect game for indoors, outdoors, or in the car. Find a familiar nursery rhyme to recite with your child. Then, change it up a little by changing words and seeing if your child catches your mistake. For example,” Mary had a little lamb whose fleece was white as milk.” No, mom, it’s snow, not milk!
Editor’s note: Written by Karen Fowler, PreK Family School Consultant for Weakley County Schools. Her role is to provide support and assistance to children, families, and teachers during the PreK year. She has worked in the field of early childhood education for 28 years and holds both a Master of Science in Education and a Master of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences, both from the University of Tennessee at Martin.