Saturday, June 2, 2012

Educational Games and Activities for Rainy Day Fun

In my house, TV and computer time is limited for my children in an effort to encourage imaginative play and to promote physical activity.  On sunny days, physical activity is not a problem because we get dressed and get outside.  However, in Connecticut the weather loves to change, leaving us running inside wondering what we should play next.  I am a huge supporter of Children's Museums in Connecticut but if you can't afford to take your whole brood try some of these ideas in the comfort of your own home.  Below are my favorite educational games, and activities to keep your kids busy and the sibling fighting to a minimum.

Let's get physical:
I am always trying to encourage physical activity.  So we frequently have dance parties in my living room.  I can throw in a CD or turn on Kids Bop and get grooving with my girls.  To make it extra fun, we dress up.  For instance, we will listen to Tchaikovsky's swan lake or the nutcracker and the girls will dress up in tutus and practice ballet moves. So the girls can stay active while learning some musical history about a famous composer and they get to dress up.
Another great way to get everybody off the couch is to play one of our favorite games called Hullabaloo by Cranium. It encourages listening, following directions, problem-solving, and friendly competition while learning shapes, colors and musical instruments.  The kids spread the colorful pads out on the floor then press the on button and the "radio-like" machine comes on and tells everyone to hop to a red square or crawl to a musical instrument.  I love it because everyone has to be quiet to hear what is next.  The game ends by saying, "Freeze who ever is on the ______ pad is the winner. Winner do a funky dance."

Sitting still is important too:
Obviously board games and puzzles are great.  You really can't go wrong with classics like monoply, or memory but you can always add new twists to an old classic by purchasing a new version of monoply like Dino-oply to not only learn banking, trading and counting skills but learn about different prehistoric facts about a topic that all kids love - dinosaurs.

Hasbro and Milton Bradley has added many different versions of Memory to include all the newest loved characters like Dora Memory, Diego Memory, Toy Story, Disney Pixar Cars, Disney Princess, Sesame Street, Winnie the Pooh, and Spiderman.   The Wonder Forge has made memory versions with Dr. Seuss, Richard Scarry's Busy Town, Angelina Ballerina and Curious George.

Of course, when all else fails, make your own memory card game.  All it takes is some index cards, glue or paste and some printed images or magazine pictures . 
 On a rainy day you can really stretch this activity out by having kids clip magazine pictures or print some pictures off the computer that you know your kids will love.  Have them cut and paste the pictures onto index cards.  Then play memory.  Just remember that you need two of each image for matching purposes.  If your kids are older, you can always do memory with sight words written on index cards. (ie. match the words ) For a complete list of sight words by grade click this link mrsperkins dolch words.  If sight words are too difficult, you can start with the alphabet ( ie. match the letter "A" with the capital letter "A" or match capitals with lowercase letters "A" with "a").
Mary playing in a bowl of water.
Another great sitting still activity is when my girls do "a science experiment."  There are tons of books out there that have loads of ideas for age appropriate science experiements.  However, since my girls are young, I let them experiment with a bowl of water and some food coloring.  We mix different colors together to see what colors make other colors.  So they learn their primary colors and secondary colors.  For extra fun, let them pick their favorite colored water and stick a piece of celery in it to see what happens to the celery. Every kid loves water.  Just make sure you have the paper towels handy.
Ana being a foreman. Writing directions for Mary.
Pretend play is extremely important for children.  It helps them learn many social and emotional skills.  For this reason, I keep my kids room full of different dress up clothes.  Not just tutus and wands (although they have plenty of those) but all sorts of role playing costumes like construction hats, police hats, fireman hats, pirate eye-patches and hand hooks.  To go with the costume, we always have lots of cardboard boxes and duct tape on hand.  I ask retail stores that are going to throw out most of their boxes, to keep a few large ones for me (thank you Famous Footwear).  We keep the boxes broken down and tucked behind or between bookshelves until we need them.  Then when we have a rainy day we pull out the boxes and duct tape them together to make a creation that will transport us to an imaginary place.  Just last week, Mary and I created a cardboard pirate ship.  It was all great fun until she threw me a sponge and told me,"Since you're good at cleaning, mommy, you swab the deck."  I laughed so hard I fell off the ship into shark infested waters. 
Another great activity that we do on sunny or rainy days - tea parties.  This helps the kids learn manners.  Parents should act out the role and then let the kids copy your behavior. (ie. Please pass the sugar, Would you like another cup of tea, etc.)

Often we forget what it was like to be a kid.  Having kids is a chance to be young again but it is also a chance for you to model good behavior and good language for your kids.  Mary remembered the phrase "swab the deck" from reading childrens books about pirates.  So have fun and sneak some education into your play time.

No comments:

Post a Comment