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Play with a purpose

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Here is a novel way to make learning interesting for your little ones. The following article is authored by Ms Lina Ashar, Chairperson, Kangaroo Kids Education Ltd.

Whether children’s expressions are marked by ear to ear grins or brow furrowing intensity, the concentration with which they examine and occasionally dismantle a new object or the enthusiasm they bring to each endeavour and the joy they radiate as they acquire each new skill, children at play are a wonder to behold!

These early years are ripe with opportunities for you as parents to unlock your child’s potential.

A child’s brain is a work in progress profoundly influenced by his or her environment and what he or she is exposed or remains deprived of.

Play comes so naturally to children and seems nothing more than a simple pleasure. It is very easy to overlook the many far reaching benefits that play contributes to your child’s emotional, physical and intellectual development.
Through play, children learn to communicate, count, hone their gross and fine motor skills. Early play encounters with friends, family and siblings teach children how to get along with others, respect rules and boundaries.

Play also gives you an opportunity to bond with your child. When he or she is in a quiet mood cuddling and reading books or building blocks creates a feeling of peaceful togetherness. When your child is in a more playful mood a game of hide ‘n’ seek or a bean bag toss can be fun and exciting.

When you help your child acquire new skills and praise his or her efforts, you demonstrate how you are there to lend support. Countless studies demonstrate that children learn best in a loving, supportive environment.

Children are primed to learn and parents instinctively strive to provide the stimulation that they need. Since play is the vehicle of learning for children, below are some everyday activities that can become rich learning experiences.

Activity 1: In the bathroom: Fishing we will go!

Objective: To develop finger muscles, aiming and hand- eye co-ordination.

Materials: Tub of water, a plastic sieve with a handle and a few ping-pong balls.

How to go about it:

  1. Place all the table tennis balls in a tub of water.
  2. Show your child how to remove a ball floating in the tub of water with the help of a sieve. Let him/her remove the remaining ping-pong balls in the same way!
  3. Want to make things more exciting – have a race of the same activity with your child!!

Activity 2: Busy little hands in the kitchen: Ice Painting

Objective: To provide an opportunity for tactile stimulation.

Materials: Ice lollies (Place an ice cream stick in each ice tray and set overnight to make the ice lollies), paints, rough/used sheets, newspapers to spread on the floor, apron.

How to go about it:

  1. Spread newspapers on your kitchen floor.
  2. Dress your child in clothes you don’t mind getting dirty or make him/her wear an apron.
  3. Fill bowls with different colour paints – preferably red, blue and yellow.
  4. Give your child rough/used sheets and drop some blotches of paints- give the ice-lollies and let him/her mix paints with them.
  5. Help your child initially (its great fun-do try it) and then let him/her continue. Keep replacing the ice-lollies as long as your child enjoys painting. Talk about how it feels – cold.
  6. Talk about the colours and ask your child to name or identify the colours. Draw attention and show how the colours have changed as he/she mixes it.
  7. Option – Set coloured ice-lollies and give these to your child to paint with -To do this set coloured [using food colours] water in the ice tray!

Activity 3: Number Mania – Clap the number

Objective: Though your child has been exposed to these numerals in school, it is ok if he/she cannot recognize them. This activity will help you to reinforce what he/she has learnt at school.
Materials: Prepare simple flash cards of numerals 1, 2, 3, 4. (Take a sheet of chart paper cut in to four squares of A/4 size paper. Write a numeral on each piece of chart paper.)

How to go about it:

  1. Show each cutout and name the numeral – flash numeral 1 cutout and say this is “one” and so on.
  2. Explain the activity to your child. When you flash a numeral encourage your child to clap as per the number value for e.g. when you flash numeral 1 the child has to clap once.
  3. Conduct this activity with a lot of verbal hints – when you show numeral 1 cutout say this is numeral 1 – clap once – continue in the same manner for numerals 2, 3 and 4.
  4. Conduct this activity thrice. Now show the numeral and ask your child to name it. Assist the child if he/she is unable to identify the numeral and clap that many times along with him/her.
  5. Continue the activity with variations – stamp feet, bang hands on floor, jump etc.

Activity 4: Animal Day – Pretend Play

Objective: To help your child distinguish between different animals based on their characteristics.

Materials: Yourself and your talents to enact!!

How to go about it:

  1. Tell your child that mummy is going to act like an animal and he/she has to guess which animal it is.
  2. Crouch on your fours and bark (woof woof) – DOG
  3. Curl up like a cat and meow – CAT
  4. Place one palm over the other and move only the thumbs and last fingers (like fish fins) – child has to guess – FISH
  5. Bend on knees, place hands on head – two fingers pointing and hop like a rabbit – RABBIT
  6. Move on fours and moo – COW
  7. Pretend to gallop and neigh – HORSE
  8. Once your child has guessed, encourage him/her to participate in the activity of – Let’s pretend to be different animals!!

More activities can be found in ‘Mom Dad and I’ books available at leading book stores developed by Kangaroo Kids Education Limited for Brainworks creative learning.

The activities in these books have been designed to help you make the most of these wonderful years by providing a wealth of simple and diverse activities to enjoy with your child. These activities will help build a solid foundation for all future learning.