SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

Creative Play Leads to Learning

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Sidewalk ChalkPlay is a great tool for learning, and summer is the time to easily blend play with academic skills.

Here are some simple ways to turn play into valuable learning experiences.

At the beach:

  • Let your child use a stick to practice writing in the sand. Start with letters, words, and simple sentences. Use words that you would find at the beach, such as wave, shells, tide, fish, etc.
  • Collect shells or rocks together for simple addition and subtraction fun. For example, 9 shells take away 3 shells, equals 6 shells.

In the yard, driveway, or at a park:

  • If your child likes to hop, jump or skip, count the number of hops, jumps, or skips it takes to get from the back door to the big tree. Then have her count backwards, as she reverses from the tree to the door.
  • Buy a package of inexpensive sidewalk chalk. Draw some large circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles on the driveway, sidewalk, or patio. When your child can identify the shape, let them use the chalk to turn it into their own work of art using additional shapes and designs. For example, the circle could become a beautiful flower; the rectangle could be turned into a train engine, the triangle a colorful kite.

On a rainy day:

  • Let your child play "office" with sticky notes, envelopes, old calendars, note paper, paper clips etc. He can pretend to write letters and emails, take phone messages, and conduct meetings with his imaginary staff.
  • Curl up with a favorite story together, and then ask your child to create or act out a different setting or ending for the story.

Besides having fun, learning through enjoyable play promotes creative thinking and builds self-confidence!


#1 Livia McCoy 2011-07-29 20:20
These activities are so important for young children. It helps them to remember important things they learned in school. I can remember forgetting so much over the summer when the only thing I was interested in was playing.

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Do you allow your children to watch TV or play on the computer before doing their homework?