At Wee Watch, our programming and Providers focus on play-based learning as we know all the benefits for child development it brings. As parents you may be facing challenges in your new role of “teacher” as well as parent in the past few months since school has been cancelled. To help you in this endeavour, we have 10 great tips to help you encourage learning at home through play!
Language and play
- Hide letters around your house and go on a letter hunt. Have younger children identify the letters and their sounds. Invite older children to make as many words as they can using the letters they find.
- To help children learn to blend letter sounds, an essential reading skill, play hide-and-seek. Choose a favourite toy and hide it in the house. Invite your child to find the toy with the help of a clue.
- Invite your child to choose one of their favourite toys to be the character in a play or movie. Younger children can identify the parts of the story, character, setting, problem, solution orally. Older children can write the outline, and then perform the play or movie.
Math and play
- Use Lego to practice basic math skills. Have younger children roll a die and build a tower with that many blocks. Older children can roll two dice and add the numbers together to determine how many blocks to put in their tower.
- Board games support the development of number skills as children roll dice and count out the appropriate number of spaces to move in games like Snakes and Ladders, and Candyland.
- Build a simple structure out of blocks. Show the structure to your child for five seconds and then hide it. Ask your child to build what they saw, and once complete compare their structure to the original.
Science and play
- Building things can promote learning of the scientific process as children experiment with different ways to make structures more stable. You can extend this learning by asking purposeful questions: How can you ensure that your structure is strong? Etc.
- Experiment with melting ice cubes by using household items like salt or a hair dryer. Measure and compare how quickly each item cause the ice cube to melt, then ask your children for their theories about what they have observed. Add food colouring to the ice cubes using primary colours to experiment with colour mixing. What happens when a red ice cube and a purple ice cube melt?
Integrating learning and imaginative play
- In this unusual time, many children wish they could go somewhere beyond their homes. Learn about a place your child would like to go by reading about it or watching videos online. Make a pretend airplane and invite your child to create passports, boarding passes, travel brochures and signs for your trip. This type of play scenario provides the opportunity to practice both reading and writing while engaging in imaginative play.
- Invite your child to build a fort that can serve as the inspiration and location for learning. They can draw plans for their fort prior to construction Children can give their fort a name and make signs containing the name and any rules that they wish those inside the fort to abide by. The fort can also provide a cozy place to read together.