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Educational Fun in Your Own Backyard

This week's fun and educational place takes us no further than your backyard (and your house if it's too hot!).

Our own homes can have some of the most hands on learning available to our kids. Each subject area of school can be found in our own homes without spending a dime or having to get gas in the car and pack bags of supplies for an outing.

 

Take a look around your kitchen; it is full of math. Pick a child friendly recipe that is age appropriate for your child and allow them to help you make it. For some suggestions visit Cooking With Kids or use your own search! They will have to read and follow directions, measure ingredients and keep track of time. The end result is concrete and gives immediate feedback to the child as well. If they have never helped to cook, it will also show them a new appreciation of what it takes to put a homemade dish together for everyone to eat!

 

While waiting to be able to eat your dish, pull out some wooden or plastic spoons and some pots of pans of varying sizes and types for younger children. Now you have a drum set. While this might seem like a headache waiting to happen, it is important for your younger children to have time to explore sound. They will be able to see how different shapes and sizes create different tones. Put some rice or cereal in a sealed plastic container and use as shakers too!

It has been getting a little hot this past week around here! Another idea is to have a little fun with water. With young kids, fill different sizes and types of containers and see how much water will fit in one container versus another, and how many of a small container does it take to fill a large one. For older kids, you can fill glasses with different amounts of water and use a spoon to lightly tap them and make different musical notes.

 

For some of your older kids, do a little Fibonacci number investigation. This is a specific number sequence that is evidenced in our natural world. The sequences goes 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13 , and so on. You simply add the previous two numbers to get the next number. In your kitchen, just pull out some fruits that have seeds on the inside. If you cut the fruit in half, you will see this pattern at work. For example, the apple will have five sections when cut in half and will make a star shape. A banana when cut in half width wise will show three sections. You can also see this sequence in flower petals and leaf patterns. There are many websites you can visit to learn more about this sequence of numbers that creates the ratio that makes up our plant and animal world. Here is another website that I like that may help with some basic activities.

 

Those of you wanting to venture outside to do some hands on learning, just stroll the backyard. Look for birds to point out or animals (we had a small red fox walk through our yard the other day!) and different plants. You might also find some interesting bugs to examine- we found a huge beetle creature the other day! Make sure you are educated at least a little bit first so that you do not end up picking any poison ivy or other itchy plants! If you do a little research, you might even consider creating a terrarium of your backyard! Check our our local libraries for children books that you can read with your child about nature; we have some great Dr. Seuss style books on bugs! If nature walks are not easy for you, then grab some dirt, some seeds and water. Put together a planting project. Some great things to plant are marigolds, basil, sunflowers or any veggie plants! Just keep them nicely watered.

 

Parenting Pointers

  • Pick out activities that interest your child and are age appropriate.

  • Be prepared with any necessary items that you will need.

  • Make sure that if you are outside, you keep plenty of water handy to drink and stay properly attired with sun hats and lotion!

  • Be prepared for some messiness as you and your child are exploring. Remember, it can always be cleaned up later (another important lesson to teach!)

 

Learning about math, reading, music, art and science is as easy as walking through your own house and backyard. Remember that there are so many teachable moments that we encounter each day with our children. The more we take advantage of these, the better educated our children become. Learning with your child not only helps your child grow academically, but it helps the family grow together.

 

Parent's Homework

Put aside some family time this week and choose an activity to do around your house either outside or inside that will incorporate some type of learning and fun!

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