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.
Are your children stuck inside because of cold weather? Had enough of the TV and video games?
Here are two simple activities to promote learning while having fun. And if you live in a warmer climate, these are great for outdoor learning fun, too!
Inside “Basket” Ball Math
Materials: A large ball and an empty laundry basket.
To play: Place the basket in a clear, central area of a room. Have your child take a few steps back from the basket.
He softly tosses the ball while counting to see how many baskets he can make. Missed baskets don’t count. Set a goal for younger children to make (and count up to) 10 baskets. When that goal is reached, start a new one. For example, have him start counting baskets at 15 and count up to a goal of 30. To increase the difficulty, toss the ball in the basket while counting backwards! Start counting at 25 and set the goal to correctly count backwards to 10. When reached, set a new backward goal. Or skip count by 2’s, 5’s, or 10’s each time a basket is made. This game promotes forward and backward counting, increases eye-hand coordination, and uses visual, auditory, and tactile ways to practice numbers.
Materials: A simple beige file folder or some index cards, glue, sugar, or salt
To play: Open the file folder. An adult draws a bead line of glue to form different shapes on the folder; for example, a circle, square, triangle, rectangle, or diamond. This can also be done on individual index cards. While the glue line is wet, sprinkle sugar (or salt) over the glue line shapes. Let the shapes dry overnight. When dry, invert the folder or cards over a waste basket to remove the excess sugar or salt. Have your child close her eyes and try to guess the shape by feeling the rough sugar (or salt) shape. To increase the difficulty, this can be done to practice letter recognition or spelling words.
These types of activities can help increase a child’s analytical skills by encouraging the use of other senses, and promoting a more enriching learning experience.