How Children Learn Through Play

Lessons from books are great, but children learn through play far better than they do in other forms. There are several reasons for this. At the heart of it is their desire to learn. When learning is not so much work but is fun, children are more willing to participate. They want to jump in and have a good time. As a parent, the more that you can teach through play, the more that your child will retain later on. While some skills need to be taught formally, such as math facts and reading, there are still great ways to teach through play.

How Kids Learn Through Play

Children learn through various methods, but often their physical and social world teaches them the most. Even small infants learn this way. Parents can enhance a young child’s learning process by giving them a variety of ways to learn through sight, touch, taste and smell. For infants, play the games that children love, such as peek a boo and other interactions that teach cause and effect. It also teaches them how to interact socially with their families.

As children grow older, they still need stimulation. Remember, kids having fun gives them an added incentive to do the activity you want them to. Pretend play is one of the core elements of the development of imagination. Pack up a truck full of great costumes (you can pick these up very inexpensively after Halloween) and encourage both boys and girls to play. What you will find is that many of the role playing games they play now are direct reflections of the experiences they have had. For example, a child who may be going to daycare for the first time, may practice leaving her baby doll at a pretend daycare. The act is helpful, but the conversations they have of telling the doll that “mommy will be back very soon” will help them later to deal with their fears of being left. Encourage this type of play.

Child’s play through the years changes even more so. During preschool and kindergarten, one of the best ways to teach a child is through stories and pictures. They learn to interact with each other as well as with the outside world. For example, set the stage for a great adventure story. Read them the story during the morning hours. Then, give them a few ideas and let them act out the story in their own way. You can teach many of the fundamentals in this manner, everything from manners to helping those in need.

Other activities to encourage helping children learn through play include:

  • Craft projects: they explore their talents and explore texture, dimension, color and shapes
  • Dance: They explore their physical bodies and stay physically fit
  • Building with blocks: Everything from wooden blocks to Lego’s helps children to learn structure, dimension, balance, and help them to grow their imagination.
  • Drawing: Use various types of mediums from paints to pencil to help them to learn numbers, letters, shapes and much more

These activities can incorporate other skills, too. For example, perhaps an art project can center around a specific letter of the alphabet. Do not be elaborate, but do be dramatic.

Kids having fun is something you definitely want to consider for the long term. For example, children who are nine years old and up need to develop great reasoning skills and need to learn to think strategically. They also need to develop good social skills. Great ways for kids having fun through these lessons can be anything from fun science projects to advanced building sets done in teams and even 3-D puzzles. Encourage computer projects and video games as well. Unbelievably, the video game they love to play is teaching them great hand eye coordination (assuming that the content within it is appropriate.)

How children learn through play is really up to you, their parent. Encouraging them to play, pretend, and learn all go hand in hand. The skills most children learn at these early ages are not just their math facts and their ABC’s, but they are the foundations of how to learn, how to interact with other people, and how to explore, reason and strategize. These items will carry on with them throughout their lives.

Ivana Katz of Kids Universe says she is old enough to know better, but young enough to do it again, as she rides camels, swims with dolphins and often embarrasses her son. If you want to join her on adventures and find things to do with kids, join her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KidsUniverse

Fun Activities for Kids – Birthday Craft Activities

Planning your child’s birthday party doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are some great ideas for their party.  It’s amazing how much fun one can have with just a few simple ingredients.

Fun Activities for Kids - Birthday Craft Activities

Spider Snacks
Age suitability: 2+

You will need (per spider): two cheese biscuits, a spoonful of cream cheese, 8 Twiglets or chipsticks, two sultanas

A fun way to eat a birthday tea – your kids can prepare their own! Take two round cheese biscuits and, using a dollop of cream cheese, sandwich them together, leaving a 1cm gap. Use the Twiglets (or chipsticks) to represent legs by sticking them into the cheese. Sultanas should be added for eyes, after which you can all gobble up your spiders together.

Fairy Cake Mountain
Age suitability: 2+

You will need: plain ready-cooked fairy cakes (the higher the number, the taller your mountain!), a selection of edible cake-decorations (icing, sprinkles, chocolate shavings, chopped strawberries etc)

If you provide your child with a certain amount of freedom here, it can be tremendously enjoyable to build one of these. Give them free rein to decorate about 20 plain cakes with coloured icing, sprinkles and chopped strawberries. Pile them high on a plate; stick the candle on the mountain’s peak.

Secret Rice Jar
Age suitability: 4+

You will need: a jam jar, rice, a cardboard tube and a birthday treat (chocolate or sweets work well)

If your child enjoys playing tricks on adults, they will enjoy making a Secret Rice Jar. Find a jam jar with lid and pour in a thin layer of rice. Take a cardboard tube, place it inside the jar on top of the rice, then cut it down in size so that the top is level with the rim of the jar. Holding the tube steady and central, carefully pour in more rice around the outside of the tube. When you look through the glass from any angle, you shouldn’t be able to see the tube. Now for the secret treat. Place something delicious inside the tube, such as chocolate coins or cubes of fudge, then screw on the lid and attach a note along the lines of “Dear Uncle, I thought you would like a nice jar of rice”. Wrap up the jar and keep the joke hush-hush until his birthday!.

Pancakes!
Age suitability: 3+ (with adult guidance)

You will need: (For the pancakes) 2 eggs, 200g plain flour, 600ml milk, orange segments, a lemon, (For the decorations) cress seed, cotton wool

When making your pancake batter, break the eggs in half carefully and save the eggshells after giving them a quick rinse. The above ingredients make around 10 pancakes. Beat together the flour and eggs, then slowly blend in the milk. If you like like to squeeze orange juice as well as lemon on to pancakes, it will give you lots of orange-peel quarters to cut into fantastic teeth shapes and slip inside your lips. Award the last pancake to the most grotesque smile. Finally, everyone must have a go at flipping a pancake. Let it cook well on one side, shake the pan to loosen it, then give it a whirl.

When finished, fill the eggshell halves with damp cotton wool and sprinkle with cress seed that you cleverly remembered to buy beforehand. Paint faces on to the shells and stand in egg cups on a windowsill, checking occasionally that the cotton wool doesn’t dry out. In a few days, your eggheads will be sprouting green hair. Very popular with those under six.

Floury Faces
Age suitability: 6+

You will need: plain flour, a bowl and spoon per person, a chocolate button

Older family members will love playing Floury Faces. Pile a mound of flour on a plate and hide a button inside. Be sure to cover your tracks, so it’s impossible to know where the button is. In turn, each person holds a spoon and scoops out a small amount of the flour mound into a bowl. When a player uncovers the button, they must stick their face into the flour and pull it out using only their mouth. Don’t breathe in whatever you do, as flour up the nose is tickly. Keep re-heaping the flour and hiding the button until everyone has been floured.

Ivana Katz of Kids Universe says she is old enough to know better, but young enough to do it again, as she rides camels, swims with dolphins and often embarrasses her son. If you want to join her on adventures and find things to do with kids, join her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KidsUniverse