10 Free Boredom Busters for School Holidays

School holidays has come upon us again and there are parents everywhere looking for some inspiration for ideas to keep their children entertained that wont break the budget yet still are engaging. Look no further than the latest blog from CREATING A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.

Welcome to my newest blog “10 Free Boredom Busters for School Holidays”. I draw my inspiration this week from the famous saying “the best things in life are free”. I have collated 10 great inexpensive activities that will keep your children occupied for hours. All have a great educational benefit as well.

Below are two ideas for organising these 10 boredom busters which will be easy to do in any household.

School holidays activity chart

boredom-busters-fridgeHave all the activities written out in categories. Next to the chart have a holiday calendar with all the days written. Get the children to allocate the activities on particular days. Fill in all the day trips that you have organised as well so the children will know ahead of time their schedule for each day. This will prevent your children constantly asking you what will be happening on each day.

Boredom busters jar

imgresWrite all the activities on single pieces of paper and put them in the boredom busters jar. Each day your children can select one activity to complete by closing their eyes and picking a paper from the jar.

 

The 10 Free Boredom Busters for School Holidays

1. Painting Garden rocks - Art 

garden rocksFind garden rocks in your backyard or go for a walk and collect them. Select a variety of paint colours and get creative. This image shows some ideas that you may want to try.

 

2. Flower pressing - Art

flowerpressingCollect a variety of flowers. Lay them on baking paper with paper towel on top. Put another piece of paper towel and then baking paper on top of it. Stack some heavy books (or bricks if you have them) on top of it all. Leave it for 24 hours.

 

3. Library - Literacy

libraryLocal libraries usually put on some free holiday sessions for children. Check out your council’s website for more details. If not, why not sign your children up to become a member and borrow some books, DVDs and toys.

 

4. Animal homes - Science

animal-densGo for a walk in some bushland close to your house. Encourage the children to make animal homes using items that they find in the bush. This could include dens or nests.

 

 

5. Recycling Craft - Art

recyclingcraftCollect all your recyclable goods and put in a large tub. Give the children markers, sticky tape, glue and some other bits and pieces and see what they can create.

 

6. Chalk drawing - Art

chalkdrawingGive the children a box of chalk and send them outside to create. They may draw roads for a bike track or a maze or even some pictures. Chalk can wash off anything so let them go wild.

 

7. Cooking - Food

bakingHave a list of child friendly recipes that you can make with your child. These might include pizza, pasta, cakes or something else. Cooking is a great activity for a rainy day.

 

8. Mason Jar craft - Art

3-mason-jar-aquariumGive children some mason jars and some items that they can use to create some different worlds. The worlds could be under the sea, outer space, in the snow, in the desert or an imaginary world. Fill up with coloured water (filtered water and food colouring work best) and add some glitter.

 

9. Egg Drop - Science

eggdropGet your children to create a container that would keep an egg safe while it is dropped from a height. They may need to modify their design a few times if the egg keeps cracking. Ensure you have a few cartons of eggs for this experiment. Try dropping the egg capsule from differing heights.

 

10. Decorating Cookies - Art

decoratecookiesMake some cookie dough with your children and use a variety of cookie cutters to cut out cookies. Bake them and after they have cooled set up a decorating station with lots of edible items that they can use.

 

 

I hope you have found some inspiration by reading this post. Happy holidays and I hope everyone stays safe during this period.

Until next time…

Kelly Pisani

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10 Easy To Grow Edible Plants: Spring time activities to do with your child

Turn off those heaters and remove those extra blankets from your bed because we are now in SPRING!!

What better way to celebrate this change of season than to go outside with your child and do some activities together. A favourite spring time activity of mine would have to be gardening. This has not always been an interest of mine but has definitely developed over the years into a passion since sharing it with my daughter.

Gardening is therapeutic, relaxing, interesting, educational and lots of fun. Children love the chance of getting messy and discovery new things. It also helps the child realise where our food comes from and introduces the concept of science being all around us.

Below is a list of the easiest 10 edible plants that everyone should attempt to grow:

1. Tomatoes

Growing tomatoes from seeds is fairly easy. Sprinkle them in well drained soil and ensure that they receive regular water. Cherry tomatoes are great as they ripen quickly because they are smaller than regular tomatoes. On average it takes about 65 days from when you plant cherry tomato seeds to when you will pick your first one. Just over 2 months, that is pretty good. Your child would love seeing the little sprouts growing from the seeds and watching the flowers turn into fruit. A very important concept for children to understand is how fruit and vegetables are produced. Tomato plants can not support themselves so they will need to be supported with a tomato trellis or lattice which they can be attached too. A good vegetable fertiliser will also help your plant produce lots of tomatoes.

2. Snow peas

Snow peas are very easy to grow from seeds. They germinate very quickly and your child will be able to see a sprout within 2 weeks. Snow peas love to climb so they need to have a little bit of room to grow. I put them at the back near a fence so they can use that to climb up. The seeds are large so only put one or two in each small pot.

3. Zucchinis

Another easy plant to grow is a zucchini plant. (also known as a courgette) Male and female flowers grow on the plant and this is a great talking point for you and your child. You can explain the different parts of a flower and how pollen needs to be transferred in order for the vegetable to begin forming. A zucchini plant will spread out a lot and produce lots of zucchinis.

4. Strawberries

Strawberry plants are very easy and hardy. If you buy a couple of plants, before you know it you will have a lot more new plants as they start to form from small runners. Strawberry plants love full sun and also love well drained soil. You may need to put a mesh over them to stop the birds from eating them.

5. Basil

Basil is a herb that can be used in a lot of cooking. This is a really hardy herb and is able to withstand many conditions. (including a four year old who constantly trims it) Your child will love running out to your garden or herb pot to cut off a few leaves to add to your cooking.

6. Cabbage

What better way to get your child to eat a variety of vegetables than to let them grow them. Cabbage is a fast growing vegetable that can grow larger than their own head. Cabbages need a bit of room and can be ready to be harvested in 10 - 12 weeks.

7. Radish

Children will love to grow radishes as they are very easy to grow and look after. They are ready to be picked in just 25 days. One seed will only grow one radish so make sure you plant enough seeds to be able to harvest a few.

8. Potato

Make sure you explain to your child that some of our vegetables grow underground. Growing a potato plant is a great one to try with your child. Start with a normal potato and put it out in the sun. Eyes will begin to form. Move your potato into a tall container and put into a dark room. Get your child to observe it everyday to see all the changes that are occurring. When small shoots are a couple of centimetres tall, put it into the soil. They usually take 3-4 months to mature.

9. Rosemary

This is another great herb that can add so much to your cooking. Buy a small plant and put it into a large pot or into well drained soil. Ensure it has its own space and it will grow the best if it does not have to compete with any other plants.

10. Beans

Beans are some of the easiest vegetables to grow, which makes them ideal for children. They provide a great opportunity to teach children about sowing, germination and how seeds play their vital role as the starting blocks for our food. Like snow peas, beans need room to climb.

Children learn a lot by being outside. They learn about how our world works and how we use nature to help us live. Many children do not get the opportunity to have a first hand experience at growing their own food. This is a great activity to share with your child and allows a lot of conversation which will ultimately increase their understanding about science and increase their own vocabulary with more technical words.

Not everyone has acres of land to grow their own crops. Many people are now moving into apartment style living. Most of the plants above are able to be grown in pots, so why not have your own vegetable, fruit or herb pots on your balcony.

Learning experiences need to be meaningful, engaging and fun. Gardening does this all with the added bonus of being able to eat what you produce.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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3 Games That Will Give Your Preschooler A Head Start In Mathematics and English

As parents we all want to give our child the best start in life. We want to give them as many opportunities as possible to reach their full potential. We aim to create the best learning environment at home to enable them to develop their skills in many areas. This is particularly true when it comes to education.

ImaginationThis blog focuses on games that you can play with your preschooler to give them a head start in understanding numeracy (mathematics) and literacy (English) concepts prior to Kindergarten.

Children learn best through play experiences. It is very important for children to direct their own play and have a lot of opportunities to do this. However, if your preschool child is anything like mine, you will be constantly nagged to participate in the same game with them, over and over again. For my daughter, it is playing the “baby game” and her baby is always doing the wrong thing and needing to go to the timeout corner. There are only so many times I have the enthusiasm to play this game.

Playing with your child is important and a parent’s enthusiasm is equally as important. Playing a game together that stimulates imagination, stretches their vocabulary and teaching important educational concepts can be very rewarding for both the child and parent.

As parents, we can maximise their learning by setting up games that have a purpose of teaching them about Mathematics and English while still being very engaging and above all, fun! Children learn new concepts at the point of need. This means that children are only ready to learn a new skill if it is important for them at that exact time. (e.g. learn to write their name on their painting so they don’t mix it up with others)

Below is a list of 3 imaginative games that target these learning outcomes and a list of parent tips to get the best out of each game.

1. Doctors and Nurses

All children experience going to the doctors and visiting the nurse at some stage before they go to school. Unfortunately for some, a little more often than others. This is a familar context (situation) for your child, so your child will be really engaged with this game.

How to set it up

Get your child to talk to you about what you would need to set up for this game. You would need to include a space for a doctors room with a table, doctors equipment, somewhere to lay down and some pencils and paper. You would also need a waiting area, with a small table and chair for the receptionist, chairs for patients to sit, books for people to read and pens and paper for reception.

Parent tips on playing the game

  1. Be as creative as you can with your costumes. Get your child to help you write some name tags that could be used when you or your child is playing a character. Talk about the names and sounds of all the letters on each name tag. (literacy) Name tags could include Doctors, nurses, receptionists and patients
  2. Get your child to play different roles. You also play a role so they can see what you say and what you do when you play a character. Children learn so much through observation. Play the receptionist role first, and demonstrate how you write down the patients name, what time their appointment is and then you put it into a tray for the doctor. You could focus on showing your child the clock and show them where the hands of the clock have to be to show that time. (Mathematics) Encourage your child to keep watching the clock until it is their appointment time.
  3. You and your child can make up forms that patients need to fill in when they arrive. It could have a space for the name, age, doctor they are seeing and time of the appointment. (Literacy) Have your child write the words with your guidance.
  4. In the doctors room you could get the doctor to check the temperature, blood pressure, look at sore body parts, conduct an X-ray, give advice on what to do to get better, give a needle and write out a prescription for medicine. You can help the child write out a prescription and draw a picture to represent it. (literacy)
  5. Get the patient to pay at the reception when they have finished their appointment. (Have play money and use each coin as one dollar). The child has to count the amount of coins that they have to give the receptionist. (Mathematics)

You can play this game over and over again with a different scenario. Get your child to play different roles constantly and give them lots of praise for communicating in character.

2. Post Office

images-2A post office environment may be less familar to young children but it offers so many opportunities for children to learn literacy and numeracy concepts. You could take your child to a post office before you play it so they have some understanding of what happens in a post office and what its purpose is to the community.

How to set it up

Get your child to talk to you about what you would need to set up for this game. You would need to include a table for where the post office assistant will sit, an area for customers to write letters, put stamps on and get their parcels ready to be sent, an area for customers to line up and a post box to put all letters and parcels in.

Parent tips on playing the game

  1. Get your child to help you to collect and sort all the equipment that you need for the game. You will need to gather blank pieces of paper, small envelopes, large envelops, pencils, stamps, bubble wrap and sticky tape. (You can make envelops and stamps out of paper or cardboard) Get your child to write labels for each of the stationary to put up in the post office so the customers know where to find them on the shelves. (literacy) Do not forget to include how much they are. (mathematics)
  2. Get the customer to buy some stationary that they need to send a letter to someone they know. They will need to purchase the paper, pencil, stamp and envelop from the front counter. Ask lots of questions to your child about what they have. (e.g. how many things are you buying?, if you bought another pencil what would your new number be? - Mathematics)
  3. Help your child construct a letter to someone they know. Focus on the structure of a letter. (who is it to?, what do you want to say? who is it from?) Get your child to help you identify the sounds and names of the letters being used. (literacy)
  4. Show your child what we put on an envelope (the name and address of the recipient on the front, the sender details on the back, the stamp on the top right hand corner of the front of the envelope) - Literacy
  5. Get your child to write an invitation for a party to send. Focus on the structure of the invitation (who, what, where, when, rsvp) Ask your child how many invitations would you need to send to your whole family? - Mathematics
  6. Make a parcel to send to someone. Wrap it in bubble wrap and explain why we have to protect it. Explain the whole process of how their parcel gets from the post office to the person they are sending it to. Your child may want to role play that process.
  7. Talk about the price of stamps. (you can make up a simple amount e.g. $1) Ask them if they needed 3 stamps how much it would cost? (Mathematics)

After playing this game many times you might want to take your child to the post office to send a real letter to a friend or family member. You can get them to buy the stamp, put it on the letter and then put the letter in the post box. This will translate their knowledge into the real world.

3. Toy shop
Setting up a toy shop is a great activity for your preschooler as it combines their love of toys with learning about numeracy and literacy concepts. Taking your child to the shops and pointing out all the environmental print (print of everyday) in a shop will help give you and your child ideas of what your toy shop might look like.

How to set it up

Dedicate an area in your house to be used as a toy shop for a couple of days. It is important not to pack it up as soon as you have finished as this game could be played each day so your child can build on the skills he/ she has learnt on the previous day. Use lots of print in the toy shop to help your child with the beginning stages of reading.

Parent tips on playing the game

  1. Let your child choose a name for the shop and together make a poster with the shops name on it. Focus your child’s attention on the letter names and sounds in the name of the shop. (Literacy)
  2. Encourage your child to set up the toys in lines and count how many he/she has of each type of toy (13 - cars, 16 - soft animal toys) Get your child to record how many they have with a numeral and picture on a sheet. When someone buys a toy they can cross off one of them so they always know how many they have on their shelves. (Mathematics)
  3. Make advertisements with your child to encourage family members to buy toys from their shop. Stick them up around the house. (Literacy)
  4. Assign dollar amounts to each toy and make a sign to stick near the toy. Talk about how we write money amounts. Talk about the dollar sign with your child. (Mathematics)
  5. Count dollar coins to pay for toys being bought (Mathematics)
  6. The child can give customers a receipt documenting what they have purchased. Parents can help with spelling or they could use the signs in the shop to help spell toy names. (Literacy)

The best gift you can give your child is a variety of experiences. Although many of us are time poor, it is essential that we make as much time as possible to play and communicate with our young children. Playing is how children learn. As parents if we invest a little time in preparing purposeful play, children will reap the rewards of having a deeper knowledge and understanding of many numeracy and literacy concepts.

For more information about creating the best learning environment for your child please visit my website http://creatingalearningenvironment.com or my Facebook page regularly.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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