You know that look on a child’s face light up when he/she discovers something new and exciting?
Playful learning activities help achieve that!
Or when suddenly, something they’ve been trying for a while finally works?
Isn’t it such a great thing to witness, especially after they’ve been concentrating or working on it for a while? I love those “light bulb” or “ah-ha” moments!
So, what is a playful learning activity?
Playful learning activities are a great way to structure an environment (including your home!) so that children have more opportunities to have “lightbulb” or “ah-ha” moments.
A playful learning activity occurs when children are doing something fun (so they probably care about it), and they’re learning something as they play.
It’s open-ended, unstructured (or loosely structured) play that can be done in a variety of ways and allows children to use their imaginations, be creative, try new things, and build upon what they already know.
“Research has shown that play activities can help young children learn many important things: how to count, how to tell a story, how to share, how to get along with others.”
Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, administrators, the education system in general, and an increasing number of educators are doing away with playful learning activities (or play-based learning) and replacing them with more structured, teacher-directed “education” time.
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While this likely stems from kindergarten being the new first grade, so preschool needs to be the new kindergarten, it doesn’t mean it’s in the best interest of our children. Pushing down skills to lower ages/levels also encourages us to buy “edutainment” type toys.
“Edutainment” blends the idea that learning (and thus, education) is a passive activity that kids need to suffer through, so if they can make it entertaining, or add some entertainment at the end, it’s not as bad. Research shows that we learn best when we’re actively involved and interested in what we’re doing, which isn’t the same as pushing buttons on a toy and making it say/do something.
So, what can you do about it?
Incorporate more playful learning activities into your child’s day.
Here are a few, no-prep activities to get you started:
- Gather lids from your kitchen.
- Have your child sort them by size, shape, color, etc.
- Line them up.
- Use them to create faces.
- Make patterns.
- Make a chain.
- Use them to measure the distance between two things in your kitchen…
- Stack them.
- Bonus if you have plastic food storage containers to use. This would also be a great opportunity to talk about what comes next, what’s first, bigger/smaller than, etc.
- Save toilet paper and paper towel rolls, various boxes, envelopes, etc. and give them to your child along with some glue or tape to create something. No instructions. Just let your little one create!
- Ask your child to gather a few things he/she thinks will roll well.
- Go to the park and use the slide to see which items roll the fastest.
- Measure (count steps) how far the items went from the bottom of the slide.
- To do this at home, lean a piece of cardboard or other flat material against the couch, a chair, etc. You could then experiment with different ramp heights and different materials.
Okay, so maybe that’s more than 3 ideas, but it’s certainly enough to get you started.
So, go out there, grab some stuff mentioned above (or whatever ideas it sparked in you!) and start having fun with your child. Let your child learn through play. You’d be amazed at what our toddlers and preschoolers are capable of when we give them a chance!
For more information about the reasoning and research behind playful learning activities, check out this article.
Snag some FREE playful learning activities here.
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