Sometimes we get stuck for inspiration when it comes to entertaining little ones. The draw of the screen can be overwhelming at times and it’s important to provide small minds with a variety of activities that promote excitement, engagement and interest. Here are some ideas to help you plan the perfect day out – or provide a learning and engagement accompaniment to what you have already got on your agenda. Get ready for learning out and about!
The First 5 Forever program is BACK at your local library! Numbers are limited under their Covid-safe so book your attendance and plan some more wonderful ways to play with your children! Consider it inspiration for some great activities that you can do in and around the home.
Out and About
As parents, we’re certainly among the busiest people around. Not only have we got our work and personal lives to schedule, we are also responsible for little ones. Be it the mundane day-to-day running of the household, the attempts to stimulate young minds through learning activities at home and in care and the desire to give our children a childhood to remember – we have a heck of a lot on our plate. And who has the time to schedule every waking minute to make sure we are making the most of our children’s precious childhood?
Out of home activities, shared together, can have a positive impact on your child’s learning later in life. These expeditions are vital for expanding upon their social and emotional development as well as encouraging interest in the world around them. Art galleries, museums, walks in nature and even trips to the shops are primed with learning opportunities for all.
Here are some key ideas about how you can kill two birds with one stone and engage your children in fun, education-based activities WHILE you’re running the day-to-day! Too easy.
I Spy and Guessing Games
This one’s a no-brainer. Playing games based on what you can see is the perfect way to engage children while out and about and keep their minds off those dreaded screens and devices.
Another fun one to play while in the car is “Spotto”. Choose your colour (red is an easy one) and have people shout SPOTTO when a car that colour drives past. If you want to mix it up a little, you could talk about types of cars and trucks and see what you can see.
You could also try a game where your child looks for letters from their name in license plates or signs.
Reading – Portable Learning at Your Fingertips
Make sure you always have a book (or three) ready in the pram or the car. Children can read and interact with books while you are in transit – they’re the perfect portable learning device. You can share stories together in cafes, restaurants, beaches or parks – wherever you go, a book can follow!
Board books and other interactive books are perfect for babies and toddlers. These can be accompanied with inference, guessing and identification activities that are bound to pique their interest and encourage interaction and engagement.
Take a picnic at the park for example. Spread out under a large shady tree, books at the ready, and engage in some learning out and about in the great outdoors. Allow your children to play on and test their limits on the equipment or even engage in some old-fashioned tree climbing. The great outdoors is well and truly a fantastic learning and enjoyment environment for young and all. The fresh air and exercise opportunities are ready and waiting for you – all you have to do is get there.
Making the Most of Your Time
There are times when we are out and about with children when waiting is on the cards. Waiting in line at the bank or the supermarket, waiting in a doctor’s office and waiting for mum or dad to finish their ‘grownup’ business can seem like chores but they do not have to be!
Here are some great ideas that you can use for learning out and about while you wait:
- Remember those books you now always have on hand? Crack them open and get reading.
- Visit your local library to make sure your portable book shelf (read: your handbag) is always well and truly stocked.
- Take the magazines in the doctor’s office and get to work. Look for pictures of animals or household items. Identify letters that form names. Use inference to guess what stories are about and then have a good old-fashioned read of the text together to engage in a little portable learning.
- Give your fingers nicknames! Sounds weird but you can make up little stories on the go that will capture their interest if even for a few minutes.
Shopping does not have to be a chore with kids. This is the perfect opportunity to turn an expedition into a learning adventure.
Talk your way through your shopping decisions. Make a list together at home (children can draw pictures if they are not yet able to form words and letters) and let your child become an important part of the process. Go through your cupboards and fridge together to plan meals that the whole family enjoys and work out what essentials are missing.
Once you have your list ready to go, consider the whole trip to be an exercise in language development. Discuss the fruits and vegetables you are going to consume (as well as a conversation about how important they are to keep healthy). Walk through the chilly frozen section and discuss just how cold it is – walk through the bakery and talk about all the fresh bread you can see (and make sure you give it a good sniff, too!). Read signage, navigate the aisles, talk through product names – there is so much potential for a learning experience within the confines of the grocery store. This might extend your trip time by a little (okay, a lot) but consider that time an investment in your child’s educational journey.
Enjoying Time Together Out and About
Have you got any great ideas about how you can make the most of your time together while out of the house? We’d love to hear from you in the comments with any suggestions you may have.
First 5 Forever – it’s easy to get started!
Are you interested in the First 5 Forever program? You can visit First 5 Forever online for lots of fun and free activities and ideas to try at home. You can also sign up for the free weekly tips customised to suit the age of your child.