School years may be limited, but learning can be every day for a lifetime. Here are a few ideas for expanding your children’s (and your own) pool of knowledge through fun family activities that reinforce the subjects taught in school—without inviting complaints that this is as boring as a classroom.
Games that use counting and basic math include Hearts and Guess the Number (one player chooses a secret number between 1 and 100, and answers other players’ guesses by telling them whether they’re too high, too low, or just right). Or see who can stack the greatest number of blocks into a tower, or reach the highest total by tossing dice. For kids graduating to multiplication tables, try Scrabble (adding up double and triple scores) and All Fives Dominoes.
Another math activity: let the kids help prepare a savings plan and a budget for a family trip, new pet, or home entertainment system.
Sharing stories as a family remains a great source of shared enjoyment long after the kids learn to read for themselves. Form a weekly “reading circle” and pass the book around with everyone taking ten-minute turns. Or start a family book club. Or write stories together, letting everyone have a turn as scribe.
Family games that involve reading for comprehension include Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit. Even many trivia game shows use written questions: you can watch as a family and give a token award to whoever answers the most questions faster than any official contestant.
Get outside and observe nature every chance you get: organize a scavenger hunt together, or take up bird watching. Mix educational discussions with the fun—talk about:
- The health benefits of exercise and fresh air
- What clouds are and how they make shapes that resemble dogs, ghosts, Santa Claus, etc.
- What sorts of clouds forecast what sorts of weather
- Where the products at a farmer’s market come from
Build a block bridge, house of cards, or sand castle while discussing the engineering principles that also hold more permanent structures together. Fly paper airplanes or kites while talking about aerodynamics. Read about the scientific discoveries that birthed today’s everyday gadgets, and devise your own experiments using the same basic principles.
Kids naturally take to art projects. Here are a few suggestions for making it a group activity:
- Use a 10’ square piece of art paper (or newsprint) and create a group mural or collage to decorate the family room.
- Make a clay town, zoo, or airport with everyone contributing sculptures.
- Visit an art museum and go home to create your own Impressionist, Classical, or Kinetic works of art.
Note to Teachers
Don’t listen to the stereotype that says education is “supposed” to be lecture-based and boring. You can implement any or all of the above projects into your curricula: your students will learn more and appreciate it!
LEARNING CAN BE FUN AT SCHOOL
At Shady Oak Primary, we believe that school should be educational and fun, and should also emphasize such important life skills as teamwork, active play, and empathy. We utilize this philosophy in all our programs and classes. If you agree that your children deserve better than rote instruction and standardized-tests obsession, contact us today to learn more!
Blessings to parents and children of all ages!