Using muscles makes them grow. The same is true for a key organ:
So feed your child's brain with a great day focused on cognitive
play. Entice children to engage their thinking skills and pump up
their gray matter while having fun with friends.
Morning play session
Presenting math as fun serves children
now and in their future, and morning is a fine time to introduce
challenging concepts. Zillio Mini Mountain simplifies basic math
skills by offering visual and kinesthetic examples. This allows
children from age 4 and up to engage in addition, subtraction,
multiplication and division as a multi-sensory playful
The cornerstone of learning is memory, and games can be great
for that. A fun one for older children, The Touch Game, works with
memory, sensory awareness and small motor skills. For younger
children, the What's Inside Box, prompts them to hide and then
remember the collection of play items tucked into this soft,
sculpted exploration box. To avoid frustration, increase or
decrease the number of objects hidden in order to slowly build both
memory skills and self-esteem.
Food can nourish both the body and the mind if you give a child
the right motivation. Turn lunch into a game by asking children to
count the crackers before and after they eat. Ask them to identify
where the foods come from (trees for fruit, ground for carrots,
plants for tomatoes). You can even make simple Bingo cards for all
the guests and have the children put a marker on every word item or
color they take a bite of (purple for grape, yellow for cheese).
This helps develop word and color recognition. It's also a very
tricky way to get some of those veggies eaten. Continue
playing/eating until all the children win a Bingo prize (dessert or
Banish after-lunch fatigue with an active game like parachute
scrabble. Hide a bunch of letters you made under a blanket and have
two adults hold the ends. Raise the blanket on the count of three
like a parachute and have the children collect as many letters as
they can before the parachute falls down on them. Challenge
children to create words, identify vowels, spell their name or
trade letters to make new words.
Wikki Stix alphabet toy is another fun way for children to make
their own letters or numbers. These wax-coated yarn pieces are
stimulating to the touch and fun to form, bend and create with.
Late afternoon session
Now is the time for some interactive
reading to keep children motivated and involved. Read a short book
or just a page or chapter. Then reread it again leaving out
important words for the children to fill in. You can even blindfold
kids to help them concentrate. Another fun book is, My Many Colored
Days, which integrates scarves and music while working on color
recognition, listening skills and exploration of emotions.
Work on recall skills by having children recap the day's events
by writing in a journal or verbally telling their stories. Creative
journaling can involve writing, poems, drawings or even just making
Deidre Pate Omahen is a mom, a Chicago Special Parent
advisory board member and director of programs at the National
Lekotek Center in Chicago.
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