So do we like winter?
Do we like being home most days with children who get cabin-fever when the weather is foul?
The answer could be more trips out!
Does the budget allow that?
The answer could also be JUST GET OUTSIDE!
The reality is OK, OK - YOU MAY GET WET, BUT PLEASE NOT MORE THAN ONE SET OF CLOTHES TODAY!!
So, with winter a'comin it's time to get organised. Clear the clutter, order your Vit D supplements, stock up on jigsaw puzzles and read aloud books, train your toddler to LEAVE IT when people have games on the table ...
and PERHAPS - consider getting your children together every morning after breakfast for something STRUCTURED! Horrors!!!! Natural Education with Structure?? It can work. It can be necessary. It CAN EVEN be enjoyable.
Of course, it depends on your children.
There's no use lassoing them and tying them to the couch, but some children will genuinely be interested in 30 minutes of games or activities first thing in the morning. Hint: some reticent children are drawn into games or activities if YOU start playing them, and genuinely enjoy yourself.
And then, of course, it depends on their age.
Little ones may love finger-plays, poems, songs in various languages and the same book read every day for 5 days so it becomes their "own".
Older ones may want more challenging games, different activities.
Now ... if there were just some sort of QUICK REFERENCE guide to hundreds of different games an activities that one could grab off the shelf and flick through ...
BUT WAIT - THERE IS!!
Sadly, it's still on my computer, waiting to get to the printer!!!
And so, for your previewing pleasure, and for the sake of your children who might want something new to get on with - here are some of the "springboard" ideas in my new book which is called
ADVENTURES IN NATURAL LEARNING - Handbook
GAMES AND ACTIVITIES
1. CARDBOARD CUT-OUTS
Encourage your child (through example) to draw simple objects onto cardboard and cut them out. Then give your child a shoebox to keep all their cut-outs in. Some children love to get them out and play with them – arranging them all on a table-top. Ideas for cut-outs: bulldozers, diggers, cars, trucks, houses, people, shops, trees, aeroplanes, animals, rockets, pirate ships, characters from a story you're reading, – whatever your child is interested in. These are wonderful to keep and look back on when the children are older.
2. HOMEMADE BOARD GAMES
Make board games and use flat pebbles as counters. Game could be going along a path to reach somewhere. Could have move ahead squares and miss turn squares, also squares to sing a song, recite a poem, say scripture, run and touch something, pat head and rub tummy or other activity.
3. ALPHABET LISTS
Rule a piece of paper into about 6 columns across the page. Down the side of the page put the following categories:
boy's name, girl's name, plant, animal, place, food, colour.
Someone calls out a letter. Write that letter at the top of the first column. You must then fill in each category with something that starts with that letter.
E.g. If someone calls out F then for boy's name it could be Frank, for girl's name Frances, plant could be fuchsia, animal could be fish etc.
4. I WENT TO THE MARKET
Each player takes a turn to say what they bought at the imaginary market. But you don't say what YOU bought until you have remembered what everyone else before you bought. Each item is accompanied by a miming action – this is fun and it also helps fix the items in your mind!
1st player: I went to the market and bought a rabbit (mime rabbit ears).
2nd player: I went to the market and bought a rabbit (mime), and a shovel (mime digging).
3rd player: I went to the market and bought a rabbit (mime), a shovel (mime) and a hat (mime putting hat on).
1st player again: I went to the market and bought a rabbit (mime), a shovel (mime), a hat (mime) and a hankie (mime blowing nose).
5. SIMPLE MARKET MIME
Similar to the game above, but each player just says the “purchases” from the players first, then when they get up to a new thing for their turn they mime what they bought. It helps to look at each player and try to remember what they mimed as trigger to getting the purchase right!
6. SING, SING, SING
Give two players a well-known simple song each. Have them face each other, looking right at each other on the count of three they should start singing their own song, trying hard not to laugh, forget their song, or miss anything out. See if they can both get to the end of their songs successfully.
7. WHISTLE, WHISTLE, WHISTLE
Same as above – each player has a tune they must whistle instead of sing. Make sure players are far enough apart so they don't whistle into each others faces.
8. HOW BIG IS THE CIRCLE?
Take a piece of paper and a compass – draw a circle on the piece of paper with the compass. Now close the compass and give it to your child. Have them guess how far open you would need the compass to be to make a circle exactly the same size as your one. When they have guessed, take the compass from them and positioning the point right in the centre draw a circle with their guess. Put their name by it, and give the closed compass to the next player and continue in this way until all have had a turn.
9. HOW MANY?
Call out a letter. The first player has to call out as many words as they can beginning with that letter. They raise their hand when they have run out of words to say. Move to the next player and call out a different letter.
You can play this one with beanbags. Sit in a circle with a beanbag. Throw the beanbag to someone and call out a letter at the same time. The catcher must say at least five words starting with that letter, and then throw the beanbag to someone else and call out a different letter. That player must say at least five words … and so on.
You could make it harder by narrow it down to using categories – say only words with more than 3 letters – or animal names, or plants.
Children need to understand the concept of “words that rhyme”. This is a tricky concept for some children! But practice it and they'll catch on.
1st player: “I'm thinking of a word that rhymes with cat.”
2nd player: “Does it fly at night?”
1st player : No – it is not a bat.”
2nd player “Does it look like a mouse?”
1st player “No - it is not a rat.”
2nd player “Do you wipe your feet on it?”
1st player: “Yes – it's a mat.”
One player leaves the room. The others then decide on a verb: (a verb is something you can be “to” in front of: to run, to swim, to jump, to hop, to fly, to skip, to crawl, to stand, to give). When then absent player comes back into the room he has to try and guess what the verb was by asking questions substituting the verb for the word sausage.
Say the verb was “fly”.
Q: “Does a dog sausage?”
Q: “Does a person sausage?”
Q: “Does a building sausage?”
Q: “Does a bat sausage?”
At which point the player may wish to guess what “sausage” is.
12. ALPHABET DOGS (or cats)
1st player: “A - my dog is an active dog and his name is Arthur.”
2nd player: “B - my dog is a beautiful dog and her name is
3rd player: “C – my dog is a crafty dog and his name is Conroy.”
4th player: “D - my dog is a daft dog and his name is Dudley.”
and so on.
It helps younger players if they can see the alphabet – either on a card, a wall poster, or lay scrabble tiles out in front of them in alphabetical order.
135. CAN YOU SEE A WORD YET?
Using scrabble tiles or magnetic letters each player takes one letter at a time and places it face upward on the table. Other players must watch to see if they can make a word from the letters already chosen – not necessarily using all of them but better if you can. Call out when you see a word.
136. PICK A CARD
Using a pack of cards take one of each number out and put into a basket. Player 1 chooses a card. If it is number one, then it goes on the table. Player 2 must get a two. If the card is not a number 2 then it gets returned to the basket and player 3 gets to pick another card out and see if it is a 3 and so on until all the cards are out and in a row on the table.
Spread a pack of cards out, individually, face down on the table – either scattered or in neat rows. Each player is allowed to turn two cards over. If they match they keep that pair, and have a free turn. If they do not match they turn the cards back to their “face down” position. The next player turns two cards over and the game continues that way. All players must watch to see where the cards lay.
139. ALPHABET FAMILY, TRIP, LOVELY PURCHASE AND A DELICIOUS DINNER
“A my name is Angela, my husband's name is Alfred, our children are Algernon and Annie. We're going on holiday to Australia to buy an lovely albatross and dine on delicious apples.”
“B my name is Boris, my wife's name is Betty, our children are Brian and Belinda. We're going on holiday to Blenheim to buy a lovely bucket and dine on delicious bananas.” etc
140. ROUND AND ROUND WORDS
First player names an item. Next player says the first word they think of that is relevant to that item … and so on.
It may go something like this:
1st word: bicycle
2nd word: road
3rd word: car
4th word: steering wheel
5th word: sticky
6th word: orange
7th word: juice
8th word: apple
9th word: tree
10th word: monkey
Then, after about 10 rounds go backwards. You do not say your word, but the word of the person before you. So if you had 10 players and the last player said “monkey”. The backwards round would start with the player 10 saying “tree”.
Then player 9 would think “yes, I said tree, but why did I say tree – what was the word that made me think of tree? - ah yes – apple.”
And player 8 thinks “yes, I said apple, but why did I say apple – what was the word that made me think of apple? - as yes – juice.”
and so on till you return to player 2 saying “Car!”
141. RHYME TO THE LAST WORD
Players speak back and forth to each other - 2nd player must make the FIRST word of their sentence(s) rhyme with the LAST word in the sentence given to them.
1st player: “Looks like it might rain tonight.”
2nd player: (rhyming with “tonight”) “Might it? Yes I think it will.”
1st player: (rhyming with “will”). “ Hill and mountain will be covered with water.”
2nd player: “Oughter get the washing in before it starts.”
1st player: “Hearts that are happy to serve in that way are a joy.”
2nd player: “Boy and girl should do jobs like that.”
142. ONE MINUTE PER PLAYER
One player is timekeeper. Each turn takes one minute. Player one begins a story and speaks for one minute, then timekeeper says “Next” at which time player one must stop immediately and player two must continue the story. No ums or ahhs are allowed, and players must speak smoothly and articulately, without gaps.
143. ANIMAL, MINERAL OR VEGETABLE
One players thinks of an item. For example – a cabbage.
Other players ask questions and try to guess the item.
The first question they ask is “Is it an animal, a vegetable or a mineral?” To which the answer would be “Vegetable.” The questions following that can only be answered with either “yes” or “no.”
i.e., “Does it grow in a tree.”
“Do you have it in a cup of tea?”
“Can you eat it raw?”
The following objects are placed on the table: box of matches, ball of string, bag of marbles, bag of buttons and a box of pebbles. Players must write them down and then guess how many matches are in the box, what length the string is, how many marbles are in the bag etc.
146. REMEMBER 30
Place 30 objects on a table (go through your junk drawers and put various items out from there – pencil, paperclip, stapler, rubber band, pocket knife, ruler, business card, cork, marble, baby's sock etc.) Players observe all the items for one minute, then they go away and write as many as they can remember.
Play peekaboo with babies – but keep playing it with them when they are toddlers and young children too! Use a blanket to hide behind, around a door, behind a cushion etc. This can cheer a child up when they are needing a little comfort, or a grumpy 5 year old.
151. TEXTURE WALK
Tactile children LOVE this game. However, some children CAN'T STAND IT!
Place squares of different things on the floor for children to walk on: paper, cardboard, bubblewrap, silver foil, cushions of different fabrics, fabric, carpet sample square, doormat. Make a path, make it straight or wavy.
152. BUBBLEWRAP POP
Get sheets of bubblewrap that have the large bubbles in them. Let your children jump on them to pop the bubbles.
378. WAX RESIST PAINTING
Draw a design onto paper with a white wax candle or white crayon. Paint over the design with brightly coloured runny (but not watery) paints. The white design will show through the colours.
379. WATER PICTURES
Wet a piece of paper thoroughly. While it is still wet drop some paint onto the paper and juggle it around to make the colours run. After it is dried look for hidden shapes and figures and draw around them with a black marker pen.
380. BUBBLE PICTURES
Method One: Beat ½ C of soap flakes in ½ C of water. Divide the mixture up into shallow containers. Add a different colour of food colouring to each container. Press blank paper over the bubbles then lay them flat to dry overnight.
Method Two: Pour detergent into a container and add enough paint to give a strong colour. Using a straw blow into the container until bubbles rise above the container. Roll your paper gently over the top of the container.
These make lovely “card mats” for cardmaking, or larger pieces of paper can be printed in this way for wrapping paper.
381. TEXTURE RUBBINGS
Use chalk or crayon and walk around the house with a piece of paper finding interesting textures. Hold the paper on the surface and rub the chalk or crayon over it.
382. WET CHALK
Draw on a sheet of wet paper with pieces of brightly coloured chalk. Try also drawing with the coloured chalk on paper that is both wet and dry in different areas – achieve this by wetting paper with a spray bottle, or painting water onto the paper with a brush.
On a sheet of plastic or a plastic table spread paint – one or more colours in a way that pleases you. Use your finger to draw a pattern, ensuring that the paint is actually pushed off the area with your finger. Wash hands.
Gently lay a piece of paper over the design and carefully press down making sure you do not move the paper around. Carefully peel it off and lay it flat to dry. Try with wet paper and dry.
384. MAGAZINE PRINTS
Cut a picture from a magazine that doesn't show too much small detail. Place the picture face down on a sheet of paper. Paint the back of the picture with turpentine. Whilst it is still wet scribble evenly and firmly over it. Carefully pull the picture away and you should have a print of the picture on your paper.