Friday, August 15, 2014

20 Activities for When Kids Have to Wait (no materials required)



We have all been there…what was supposed to be a 10-minute oil change or wait at the doctor’s office suddenly becomes more like an hour (or two!).  Worst of all, you weren’t prepared for the wait and didn’t bring any coloring books or toys along with you!  Don’t panic…you have this list FULL of activities for when kids have to wait!
(With that being said, you *might* want to go ahead and pin this post or bookmark it to your phone…just in case.)    :)
This list is divided into two categories:  activities for when others are around and activities for when it is just you and your kids.  Silly activities are great for when it is just you and your kids, but might not be appreciated when there are other patrons waiting in the same room.

 Just You and Your Kids
These activities are perfect for waiting in exam rooms or when you have the place to yourselves…where others won’t be disrupted.
-  Play Simon Says:  This timeless game is the perfect way to keep kids active (i.e. burn a little energy) and occupy their attention all in one!
 -  Sing a silly song or recite a finger play (the more actions the better):  Hokey Pokey, Do Your Ears Hang Low, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Deep and Wide, Father Abraham, London Bridges, Old McDonald Had a Farm, This Little Piggie…just to name a few.

Create a piggyback story:  Start telling a story and then pass it along to your child.  Have him/her piggyback off of the start to your story and continue telling it with his/her own flair.  Continue piggybacking off of each other until your wait is over or the story has become too outrageous to continue!  :)
 -  Have a Thumb War:  Link knuckles with your child and go to war to see which thumb is the strongest!

-  Do jumping jacks.  Did I mention that it might be necessary (for everyone’s sanity) that your kiddos to get some energy out while waiting?
 -  Play the Body Count Game:  I love this idea from Creative Connections for Kids!
 -  Find Your Funny Bone First:  Have your kids compete to see who can point to their 
funny
 bone first.  Continue the race by calling out more body parts.  (Idea from Teach Mama)


 
 With Other People Around
 -  I Spy:  A classic game that can be easily reinvented!  “I Spy with my little eye, something ______” (insert color, shape, beginning letter, etc).
 -  Letter Hunt:  Call out a letter and ask your children to identify objects around the room that begin with that letter.
 -  Play “How Many?”:  Call out a shape, color, etc. and ask your child how many objects he/she can find.  (idea from This Reading Mama)
 -  Read the Room:  Have your child walk around the room and identify words (or shapes, colors, letters and numbers for non-readers).
 -  Round Robin Game:  Start with a topic (colors, types of fruit, animals, etc) and go back and forth with your child(ren) naming a color until no one can think of any more (idea from Making Time for Mommy).  Try it with other topics too (four-legged animals, types of fruit, etc.).
 -  See how high you can count:  Quietly count aloud with your child and see how high you can go (idea from Nothing If Not Intentional).  Another idea is to guess how many seconds (counts) until the doctor comes in, your food arrives, your car is ready, etc.  Then count together and, whoever comes closest to the actual number of counts it takes, wins (idea from The Chaos and the Clutter)
 -  Recite Memory Verses:  A great suggestion from Meaningful Mama!  (Or you could keep theseABC Scripture Cards in your purse at all times).   :)
 -  Imaginary Traveler:  Take turns asking your kids to imagine where they might go and what they object want to take along on their trip, beginning with the letter “a”  and continuing consecutively through the alphabet.  For example, “I’m going to Australia and I’m taking my Angry Birds.” “I’m going to Brad’s and I’m taking my Batman shirt.” Encourage participants to be as silly as possible.” (see this and other great “thinking games” at What Do We Do All Day?)
 -  Play the “What’s missing?” Game:  This idea from Craftulate is brilliant when you have a purse or diaper bag with you.  You could even play with items you find around the room.
 -  Guess Which Hand?:   Put an item in your hand and put your hands behind your back.  Have your child guess which hand the item is in.  (idea from Your Modern Family)
 -  Play “I’m Thinking of a Number”:  Think of a number and keep it in your mind.   Begin giving your child clues.  This classic game is great for kids who are familiar with the concepts greater than and less than.
 -  Ask “Would you Rather?” Questions:  Would you rather be in a pool or marshmallows or in a pool of M&M’s?  Would you rather have bright blue hair or bright blue feet?  Find  more questions like this (along with printable cards) from the Measured Mom.
 -  Play the Verbal Memory Game:  Give your child a short list of items (3-6 depending on the age of your child).  Then have them recite the items in order.   (idea from There’s Just One Mommy)
Also, I loved this reminder from Study at Home Mama:
I love playing the 
games
 like I Spy, but I also find that these boredom times are great to encourage children to either (1) talk, or (2) find their own 
entertainment
.  I think when kids are expected to entertain themselves, and they aren’t always given the answers, they learn to rise to the occasion. I think it takes practice — don’t always give entertainment during car rides, leave some free play time at home every day, etc. Engage your children in conversation and teach them how to start conversations — with you, or other kids. When you do this, your child is more apt to strike up a conversation (asking a question or sharing a story) than start whining about how they are bored.

Finally, as a last resort (i.e. deaf-con meltdown), you can always give them your phone.  I am personally trying to be more engaged with my kids and less reliant on technology because I don’t want to miss out on interactions with them!  But there are times when everyone has had enough (including me…just keepin’ it real).  In these dire situations, I might break out the phone and let them play an educational app for toddlerspreschoolers, or beginning readers.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What Should a 4 Year Old Know?

What should i realize about my 4 year old daughter is this! Thank you from a A Magical Childhood

What Should a 4 Year Old Know?

It’s back to school time and children all over are starting preschool.  Many parents are frantically searching the internet to find out if their little ones are “on track” and know everything they should.
I wrote this article about what a four-year-old should know many years ago but it continues to be the most popular page on the Magical Childhood site.  I don’t think a week has passed in the past eight or so years when I have not received a letter from a parent, grandparent or teacher about it.  Parents and principals especially have said they wish more parents realized these things.
So in honor of the new school year, I’m posting it here…

What should a 4 year old know?
I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. “What should a 4 year old know?” she asked.
Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only three. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.
It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t. We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.
So here, the list of what a 4 year old should know.
    1. She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
    2. He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
    3. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
    4. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he couldn’t care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
    5. She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.
But more important, here’s what parents need to know.
    1. That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.
    2. That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.
    3. That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.
    4. That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important– building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too– to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.
    5. That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.
And now back to those 4 year old skills lists…..

I know it’s human nature to want to know how our children compare to others and to want to make sure we’re doing all we can for them. Here is a list of what children are typically taught or should know by the end of each year of school, starting with preschool.
Since we homeschool, I occasionally print out the lists and check to see if there’s anything glaringly absent in what my kids know. So far there hasn’t been, but I get ideas sometimes for subjects to think up games about or books to check out from the library. Whether you homeschool or not, the lists can be useful to see what kids typically learn each year and can be reassuring that they really are doing fine.
If there are areas where it seems your child is lacking, realize that it’s not an indication of failure for either you or your child. You just haven’t happened to cover that. Kids will learn whatever they’re exposed to, and the idea that they all need to know these 15 things at this precise age is rather silly. Still, if you want him to have those subjects covered then just work it into life and play with the subject and he’ll naturally pick it up. Count to 60 when you’re mixing a cake and he’ll pick up his numbers. Get fun books from the library about space or the alphabet. Experiment with everything from backyard snow to celery stalks in food coloring. It’ll all happen naturally, with much more fun and much less pressure.
My favorite advice about preschoolers is on this site though.
What does a 4 year old need?
Much less than we realize, and much more.