When we think of Play and Structured Play, we immediately realize that observation skills and learning go hand in hand. Both are highly beneficial to your child’s development. Do you often ask, “What is Child Development”? According to Kid Sense Child Development, “Children’s development occurs across a range of skill areas including: physical (motor) skills, speech and language, social and emotional, cognitive and intellectual abilities”. Monitoring of Child Development is crucial to your child’s success, while making sure their milestones are being met. Let’s delve into helping your families use three techniques to take your fun playtime and make it slightly more structured, you can do this without your child even knowing they are learning! Here it goes!
- Introduce (1-2) specific concepts for daily playtime sessions – Choose specific times whether early morning or after afternoon snack to structure your child’s play. Get on their level and engage with them. Find something you know your child likes and set up an activity around it. This could take place at the carpet, table, or outside on a walk. Use props, materials and high energy. Ask open-ended questions, discuss observations, and use visual cues. Your child can go into any direction they choose and you follow their lead, this will make a huge difference for the future. This will offer a wealth of knowledge for the child.
- Create a home model of an educational space/classroom – This can be used for children infant to preschool. Purchase bins, drawers, chairs etc. and turn your child’s entertainment space into an educational realm. This means having everything in its order and all materials having a home. I.E. books on a shelf, small table and chairs for art, puzzle rack, stuffed animals on a shelf, cars in a bin. This will give it a structured look and even free play will be semi-structured.
- Use team building and appropriate social skills on playdates – We encourage children having play dates and or friends. A play date is the perfect time to see what developmental, and social level your child is on. Use special techniques to discuss emotions, proper sharing techniques, and listen to the language they use with peers. Take notes, and see how you can improve these for the next visit. Encourage success using positive words and modeling appropriate behavior.
Now that the holidays are over, the long winter days can seem dreary and dull as we wait for spring flowers to bloom. Brighten your Little Pnuts day with play by creating a light box from a few items you probably have on hand!
What You Will Need
- A large, clear plastic container with lid
- Liner for the body of the container- a black garbage bag, black construction paper, or foil work well
- Parchment paper
- White Christmas lights- a strand or two will do, depending on the size of your container
Making the Light Box
First, line the body of the container with your material of choice. We used a black garbage bag – no taping required! Next, arrange your Christmas lights so they are distributed evenly throughout the container. Be sure to leave the plug near one end so you can find it easily. Now, take your lid, flip it over, and line the inside with a single layer of parchment paper to diffuse the light from within. Tape the edges down, flip it back over, and place it on top of your container. Before locking your edges down, find your plug and pull it out enough to plug into the wall. You can cut a hole in the side of the container for the plug if desired, but we didn’t need to. After that, all that remains is to plug it in and enjoy the soft glow from within the light box!
Light Box Play
There are many great ways to play with your light box with Little Pnuts of all ages! There are commercially available geometric shapes for light box play, or you can make your own by cutting up inexpensive translucent dividers. Water beads in clear containers look beautiful when placed on top of a light box (pictured)! Another fun idea – fill plastic baggies with colored hair gel or glitter glue, place flat on top of the light box, and let your Little Pnuts practice drawing shapes or writing letters in the gel with their fingers. Drawing in translucent containers filled with a shallow layer of salt is another engaging pre-writing activity for Little Pnuts that is extra-exciting on the light table. Manipulatives such as marbles, translucent gems, or sparkly pom-poms are fun for fine motor or counting activities. Older Little Pnuts may enjoy using the light box for tracing activities. A quick internet or Pinterest search for light box activities will yield many more ideas.
*Please keep in mind that children should always be supervised when playing near an electrical outlet or plug. DIY light boxes may become hot after extended periods of play, so be sure to monitor the temperature of the box periodically.
This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:
Fine Motor Skill Development, Hand/Eye Coordination, Focus & Concentration, Imaginative Play, Creativity, Sensory Exploration, Cognitive and Language Development
—Stephanie Haass, Little Pnuts Early Childhood Activities Expert & Blogger, www.two-daloo.com