Holiday fun!

Looking for some ways to entertain the kids in the school holidays?  Here are some fun, inexpensive activities that will keep the kids busy and help them to learn too!

Treasure hunt.

This fun and free activity can develop your child’s vocabulary and can be done anywhere; indoors, outdoors, on outings, even shopping. Just make a list of things that you want your children to find and have a small prize to reward them at the end. Younger children might only have 3 things on their list, while older kids might have 10 or more. Younger children can have pictures on their list.  Older kids can write down their lists themselves to practice writing and spelling skills. You can make your list and then hide things or you can use things that you know they will be able to find in a certain spot. You can either collect your things as you go or just tick them off as you find them.  For a shopping treasure hunt you can cut 10 things out of a catalogue and paste them on paper then have your children tick them off as they see them in the shop.

A going for a walk treasure hunt list might be to find: a feather, smooth stone, green leaf, brown leaf, piece of bark, gum nut and a seed pod.  A driving in the car treasure hunt list might be a red car, a bus, a semi trailer, a bakery, a bird, a stop sign and a traffic light. You can use treasure hunts to practice developing concepts, such as find 3 red things, 3 big things and 3 smooth things. Include colours, size, shapes and textures. You can also practice literacy skills; find three things that start with “b”, three things that end with “t” and something that rhymes with “cat”. Think about beginning sounds, ending sounds, rhyming and numbers of syllables or letters depending on your child’s skills. You can also practice categories; find 3 fruits, 3 vegetables and 3 pieces of clothing, or functions; find something for eating, something for cleaning and something for wearing. Happy hunting!

Obstacle course.

If it is a lovely sunny day why not get outside and make an obstacle course.  If it is raining you can also do this inside. If you have a lawn or paved area you can set out some things such as tables or chairs covered with a blanket to go under or through, things to balance on such as a plank, sleeper or row of bricks, things to jump over such as a rope or hose laid out on the ground. You could have a washing basket to throw a ball into, or some plastic bottles with a little water in the bottom to make skittles to knock down.

Using all these items plan out a path.  For younger children walk around the path with them at first and talk about position concepts “in, on, under, through, around”. Older children could make a series of signs, either with numbers or for older kids instructions about where to go next and stick them on the obstacles to practice numbers, sequencing and literacy skills. You could also call out a series of instructions for your child to follow to practice listening and memory skills. Start simple and gradually make the instructions more complex.  Include position concepts and descriptive words such as ”go quickly through the tunnnel and slowly under the chair”.

If you do not have the space or are going out for the day, a playground is a ready made obstacle course. Just bring a paper and pen for planning out your instructions. If you have a digital camera you could take a photo of your child at each obstacle and make a set of cards, power point display or a picture book to practice verbs, position words and describing words later on. Kids love learning materials they have helped to make and where they can see themselves.

Gardening.

If you’re not lucky enough to get some sun during the holidays, why not get outside in your back yard and do some gardening with your kids. As a child I hated gardening because all I was allowed to do was pull out weeds, but kids love to grow things. They love to have their own “patch”. Even just a large pot will do. Seeds are cheap to buy and easy for kids to plant but choose things that grow quickly so that they do not have to wait long to see something happening. Nasturtiums are very quick and easy to grow, have big bright flowers and you can eat both the leaves and flowers in salad which looks spectacular. You can plant sunflower seeds which grow quite quickly into giant plants around 2 metres tall with enormous flowers. Hollyhocks are also colourful giant plants that are quick and easy to grow from seed. Plant a row of these if you have the space and measure them as they grow to develop your child’s understanding of number concepts.

Growing things to eat is fun for kids and helps them try healthy foods they may not have tried or enjoyed before. Lettuce, peas, snow peas and carrots are quick and easy to grow from seeds at this time of the year.  You could also get some seedlings from your nursery for a few dollars.

This website has lots and lots of great kids garden ideas, set out in step by step kid friendly procedures.

http://www.global-garden.com.au/gardenkids.htm

You could work though a procedure developing reading, listening, vocabulary and comprehension skills.  If you take some photos as you work through the steps and as your plants grow, you can make your own procedure which will develop over then next few weeks or months to develop literacy skills as well. Don’t forget, if you grow food, include the cooking and eating steps too.

Make the holidays a special time with your child!

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