Activities for Kids
It’s finally summertime – the moment your children have been dreaming of since last September, when they headed back to school and the pools and snow cone stands closed for the season. If you haven’t enrolled your kiddo in an early childhood education program yet, the summer is a great opportunity to research the best option for your child. Early childhood education is vital to your child’s cognitive growth and social development.
I am not a parent yet, but I do have nine nieces and nephews and my husband and I plan to have children one day. The following activities are beneficial for four year old children in particular, especially as they near the beginning of their formal primary education. (Please note: These activities are merely suggestions and are not completely research-based. Always do what you think is best for you child.) I think my four-year-old niece, who loves memory games, swimming, and teasing her little brother, would happily engage in these summertime activities.
Image Via: Tulsa Zoo
Go to the Zoo – For an afternoon at the zoo, you’ll only need a few things: a notepad, a few bright-colored markers, and a miniature picnic of fruit and cheese crackers. The Tulsa Zoo is located on the edge of town and offers dozens of animal exhibits, from elephants to monkeys to pink flamingos.
While you and your child are at the zoo, allow your child to discover the animals and their surroundings by inviting them to look at the exhibit sign illustrations or watch a zookeeper feed the lions. Engage your child in analysis by asking questions like, “Why does a penguin have webbed feet?” or “Why is a rhinoceros so big?”
Once your child has picked out their favorite animal – say, a giraffe – set out the art supplies and snacks you brought and encourage your child to draw a picture of the giraffe.
The Tulsa Zoo offers daily chats and demonstrations, where you and your child can hear from the grizzly bear keeper or bald eagle keeper as they feed the animals and tell stories about animal behavior. Check the schedule and pick out a session (or two!) to attend for an educational conversation.
End the trip by taking your son or daughter on the safari train around the zoo as they narrate their favorite sights, sounds, and smells from the afternoon. Oh, and good luck getting through the gift shop without taking a stuffed animal home with you!
Image Via: CBSB Homeschool
Write a Letter to Grandma – Even with the advances we’re making with technology, handwriting is “a key part of learning to read and communicate.” Get out a sheet of paper and pen and help your daughter or son write a letter to a relative or friend.
Encourage your child to recount a recent activity, like going swimming or collecting rocks on a hike. Allow your child to write their name or create a drawing on the paper, and praise their progress when they are finished.
Once you and your child have finished writing the letter, show your daughter or son how to mail a letter by having them assist you with addressing the envelope, applying the stamp, and walking it to the neighborhood Post Office to be mailed.
This activity engages your child’s fine motor skills, communication skills, and imagination.
Image Via: Wilko
Plant a Vegetable Garden – Pick out a small plot in your backyard and invite your child to help you plant a row of strawberries and tomatoes. (Note: The best vegetables to sow outdoors in mid-summer in Oklahoma are spinach, kale, beans, and pumpkins.)
Have your child help you prepare the soil, sow the seeds, and water the garden you’ve planted together.
It will take ten to fourteen days for your seeds to germinate, but at the first glimpse of a sprouted green, your child will be ecstatic to see his/her efforts. After another 50 to 90 days, the tiny sprouts will turn into hearty leaves of spinach and large, rounded pumpkins (or whatever you choose to plant).
Planting a vegetable garden with your child will teach him/her patience and how to care for a living organism. It is also powerful for a child to see where the food on their plate came from – just a stone’s throw away from the kitchen table. And hey, if you planted pumpkins, you’ll be very prepared to carve jack-o’-lanterns this Halloween.
Image Via: The Huffington Post
Lend a Hand with Chores – Growing up, if my dad asked me to complete a chore and I responded that I couldn’t because my stomach hurt, he would tell me, “Go clean your room and it will feel better.” (He could always spot an outlandish ailment disguised as an excuse, but it’s hilarious that young children think they are fooling their parents.)
Having your child complete age-appropriate chores teaches children responsibility and that – sometimes – life will involve doing things we don’t completely enjoy doing.
This helpful chore chart for preschoolers gives great suggestions on things your son or daughter can do to contribute to the household, like feeding the dog, setting the table, and making their bed.
Celebrate a great week of completed chores (and minimal complaints) with a popsicle on the back porch!
Bonus Activities – Don’t let all the rain and cloudy skies get you down! There’s plenty to do inside, too. Allow your child to spend a few minutes on the iPad after breakfast playing a game on one of these educational and interactive websites. You can also build a pillow fort and watch a nature documentary, like Planet Earth. Warning: There will be lots of gasping and whispered shouts of, “Mom! Did you see that?!” If all else fails, have an epic dance party.
Alright, time to pack up my nieces and nephews and head to the Tulsa Zoo for an afternoon of exploration and discovery. Doing something fun and educational with your children this summer? Let us know in the comments!
If you are passionate about early childhood education and want to contribute to providing children with a safe learning environment where children can take an active role in the learning process, our Early Childhood Education program might be for you. Learn more about our Early Childhood Education program and your Financial Aid options here.