Kids learn while they play. It is proven to be the most effective teacher, and yet so often it seems that we remove all play from learning situations. Young children minds thrive and grow while building, creating, and experimenting. Playtime is the perfect chance to let there brains explore and think independently. Here are 5 easy ways to encourage learning through play.
I received samples and compensation for this post, all ideas and opinions are my own.
Sorting- Have you ever given your child a box of stuff and asked them to sort it? It is truly amazing. As a teacher, it was my favorite way to see just how differently every child learns and processes information. You can give the same box of stuff to 20 kids and they will all come up with something different. Ask your child why the sorted something one way, challenge them to show you a different way they could group items.
Sensory- Playdoh, Goo, Kenetic Sand, Water Beads, Pasta, Sand, Water, Flour, the list goes on forever. Give them something to create and experiment with. What happens if I pour water into this cup? How does this sponge work? Will this Playdoh fit through this hole? Let your child create and push boundaries and see where it gets them.
Imagine- Playing make believe has many purposes, plus it is really fun. As your child plays they mimic the world around them, take notice of how they see things. They usually tell a story as they dress up, or race cars, or move figurines through a dollhouse. This builds vocabulary skills and helps them explore emotions and thoughts they might not feel comfortable expressing yet.
Physical- Run, jump, fall, push pedals. Get outside or to a gym and go for it. Not only is physical activity an outlet for energy, it helps your child know how their body works. It stretches and builds muscles, coordination, motor movements. These are all skills your child needs for every day life!
Technology- Technology is everywhere around us. It is in our homes, it is in our schools, and our kids need to know how to use it! It can be such a powerful learning tool. There are many games and apps that teach through play. Our new favorite app at our house is Curious George Train Adventures.
Curious George Train Adventures is an educational game for iPad and iPhone that helps kids ages 4-6 develop and practice essential skills related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The game has 4 worlds- Tiki Adventures, Frosty Wonderland, Zany Meadows and Space Spectacular. In each world, players are presented with games that incorporate real STEM-related skills. They have the chance to solve challenges that involve adjusting speed, navigating obstacles and solving puzzles to raise bridges and open gates, children will learn to apply the laws of physics, scientific thinking, problem-solving, basic engineering principles and more.
My kids have so much fun figuring out what they need to do to keep George’s train on track. I love to listen to them problem solve out loud. I love to hear their giggles when they get things wrong and there squeals of delight when they are right. Plus, I find this app so fun to play with them. I know screen time sometimes gets a bad rap, but games like these use technology to teach in a beautiful, fun, and engaging way. Curious George Train Adventures is available for purchase in the App Store.