Fun Things to Do
Whenever possible give your child opportunities to practice cutting. Use child safety scissors and supervise them carefully. Cutting helps your child develop fine motor skills and helps to prepare them for preschool and kindergarten.
You can give your child some paper scraps to just make simple cuts to begin with. Different colors will make it more interesting. Using a slightly thicker paper may make it easier for beginners. Children like to collect the scraps they have cut and you can save them for a gluing project later if they wish.
Children can freely cut or older children may enjoy a challenge. Make lines on the paper for them to practice cutting. The lines can be straight, curvy or zig-zag depending on your child's ability. The more they practice the easier it will get! Make it fun!
When they are ready you can make a puzzle project. Take a picture (An old calendar picture for example). Draw simple straight puzzle lines on the back. More pieces for older children, less for younger children. You can also cut the picture in thirds or fourths (straight lines) especially for younger children. Have your child cut the pieces and then put the picture back together for a fun puzzle!
*Young children can practice cutting playdough with plastic playdough scissors. This will help develop their fine muscles.
Summer / Outdoor Play
1. Sidewalk Chalk Fun
Don’t forget to bring out the chalk during the summer. Children love drawing on a big “canvas” and it can be easily hosed off when finished.
- Draw a picture together.
- Make a hopscotch and teach them how to hop or walk through it. Great counting practice and number recognition. Play with numbers by placing objects in each square to correspond to the written number. For example: place 3 leaves on square #3 etc.
- Give your child a spray bottle with water (do not use one that has previously been used for chemicals). Have them spray the chalk and watch it erase!
2. Have a pretend "tea party" outdoors
- Bring out some blankets to spread out on the lawn, play tea cups and teapot, stuffed animals etc. Add to the fun by dressing up in "tea party" clothes and perhaps bring out some books to read with your stuffed animal friends.
3. Cool off with sponges and water
- Play catch with a large sponge soaked in water! Great on a hot day.
- Have a race by giving each child two buckets and a large sponge each. One bucket is empty and the other has some water in it. The first child to move the water to the empty bucket using only the sponge wins! Make it fun. Perhaps the winner gets to pass out a frozen treat to everyone!
Where is it?
This is a great game to help your child's understanding of directions and certain words. The older your child the more they can understand and you can increase the difficulty of the activity. Help your child decide on an object to hide. It can be a toy or something around the house. Have your child hide their eyes while you find a place to hide the object. Depending on your child's age give them clues as to where it is hidden. You may say "it is near, close to, or next to the sofa," It is by your bed," or "It is under something red." Use words such as above, below, over, under, near, far, inside, outside, by, etc. Keep the object hidden in one room only until your child is old enough to enjoy the challenge of searching the house. Eventually your child will be able to hide the object and give you clues!
You can play this game with younger children in a different way. Play peek-a-boo with your infant. This is a fun game for infants because they do not yet understand that objects/people still exist when they are hidden. We all know how infants love this game!
Sharpen your child's memory skills with the following games and activities. These activities are best for preschool children. Younger children may not have the language skills attention and comprehension that older children have.
What Is Missing?
Place several toys or items on a tray or table. Start off with just a few to start (3-5 items). Have your child look at them and then ask them to now turn around or close their eyes. Remove one of the items and then ask them to look and see which item is missing.
They will get better at this the more they practice! If they are having difficulty remembering use less items and/or think of ways to help them remember such as naming the items out loud before turning around.
If you don't own a memory match game (sets of cards with matching pictures for your child to pair up) you can make a version of the game yourself. You will need an even number of 3 1/2 x 5 index cards or cut paper.
On each of the pairs of paper draw or color simple matching pictures (circles, hearts, other shapes, houses, flowers etc.) Just make sure the two matching cards look alike. Again, start with only a few pairs of cards and add more if it is too easy.
Turn the cards face down on a table and have your child select and turn one card. If they turn over a heart they flip over one more card to see if they can make a match with the other heart card. If it is a match they place the two cards in front of them. If they select something other than a heart they turn over both cards face down and they try again by selecting another card to turn over. The idea is to remember where the cards are so when they turn over the other heart card they will remember where the match is.
Play the remember game any way you wish wherever you are. All you need to do is ask your child a question that requires them to remember something. For example you could ask:
"Do you remember who we went to visit this morning?"
"Do you remember what we ate with our eggs this morning for breakfast?"
What If... Activity
The "What if..." game is great to play because you do not need anything but your imagination. It can be played at home, at a park, in the car/bus, or waiting for an appointment when your child is feeling bored or anxious. It is a wonderful activity for older children, but younger children will soon catch on and can contribute their own suggestions or ideas.
All you do is simply ask an impossible or absurd question and see what answers your child comes up with. Then they can ask you some questions.
Here are a few ideas to get you started, but kids will quickly be able to make up their own. Different environments (playground, doctor's office, zoo etc.) will encourage new questions to add to the game.
-What if animals could talk?
-What if oranges were purple?
-What if fish could walk? Or zebras could fly?
-What if there were no such thing as chairs?
-What if we (people) had 3 legs?
Let your imagination go!
Ways to Use Recycling Materials:
- Recycled Mail:
-Start collecting your envelops from the mail (just open them carefully) and use them with children as scrap paper notes for them to draw and color on. Children love little pieces of paper scraps. The ones with the peek through windows will be very fascinating to them.
-If you have a child who loves to put paper in envelopes save them for that purpose. Your child will love making little notes and putting them in the envelopes. You could even talk to them about a mail carriers job and they could play mail carrier and deliver letters to family members. Remember children love dramatic play and it is easy to set up some of these sets for them.
- Milk Caps
-Save your milk caps for some educational games for preschoolers (remember that milk caps could be a choking hazard for younger children so supervise any younger children.
Write the letters of the alphabet on the milk caps with a permanent marker (parents job) and make a matching board with milk cap size circles (trace the milk caps) and each letter of the alphabet. Your child will have fun matching the milk cap letter to the letter on the board. Make sure to use only upper case or uppercase letters per board. You could also make a number board.
- Cardboard from boxes (parents job to cut apart)
-The cardboard from cereal and cracker are great for collages (especially heavier material). Give your child bits of scrap material, yarn, string, paper, or anything safe that you would normally throw out to glue as they wish to the cardboard.
-This cardboard is also great for painting activities. Just give them some child safe paint, a painting tool and let them create!
- Whole Food Boxes
-Save egg cartons and boxes from cereal, crackers, pasta etc. Set up a pretend grocery store for your child. You can use recycled paper to make money. Your child will love to pretend being the shopper or the cashier. When the boxes get too warn out to use you can recycle them or use them for a craft project as in idea #3 under cardboard boxes.
- Napkin Rings (holders)
- This is a great way to not only make use of cardboard tubes but a nice way to introduce children to using a napkin on a regular basis. This project helps teach manners in an environmental conscious way (cloth versus paper napkins).
- You will need cardboard tubes (The heavier the better) and things to decorate your tube with such as: Paints, stickers, papers to collage, crayons or markers
- Decide on what materials you will use and then have your child decorate the tube. Have and adult cut the tube into about 2-3 inch pieces. You can precut the tubes but it will give a smaller working surface for young children.
- If you wish, personalize the rings by writing each person's name on a ring using a permanent marker.
- When ready to use, slide a napkin partway through the ring starting with a corner.
- Look for inexpensive cloth napkins. They do not need to be fancy!
- Cereal Box Paper or Book Holder
- Cut an empty cereal box (parent's job) on and angle as shown
- Have your child decorate with stickers or collage materials if they wish
- Use the holder to store some of your child-s favorite books for reading or perhaps as part of an art center. Here are some ideas to put in your holder:
- Papers for drawing or coloring on
- Scraps of paper for collage
- Old magazines of interest for cutting practice (supervise and use child safe scissors)
Colouring is fun (great for fine motor skills)!
Click on the Teddy Bear to the right for a PDF version you can print and colour!
Here are some great resources for other colouring pages:
Explore with Paint
Remember that when exploring painting with young children, anything can be used as a painting tool. Use your imagination! Brushes, sponges (in different shapes etc.), crunched up paper, cotton swabs, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, string, fingers and hands, etc. It is ok to offer various objects at one time for your child to explore.
Painting with Toilet Paper and Paper Towel Rolls
Give your child some rolls to dip in paint. These are great for making circles but they can also be used for different shapes. Bend the end into a square, triangle or heart! The ends can also be cut all the way around one end and bent to make a fun shape.