The holidays are around the corner, which means the kids will be at home and needing things to keep them entertained. This is a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time together as a family, doing fun and interesting things – and maybe even teaching your kids some valuable life skills at the same time!
Kids as young as three to five years old can already start building up important skills that will stand them in good stead as they get older. Things like problem-solving skills, personal hygiene, communication, and even preparing a basic meal, can already start teaching them independence as well as coping skills for The Big Wide World.
Parents are children’s first – and most important – teachers! They watch us and see how we do things, react to circumstances, approach problems, and treat people, animals, or possessions around us. And then they copy what we do. So if we spend quality time with them teaching them positive, constructive and valuable lessons, they will build self-esteem, self-sufficiency, and learn how to be confident in themselves as they grow older.
Here are some fun ideas to start teaching your kids wonderful life lessons, while spending quality time with them these holidays.
Kids love things that have visual effects – like a DIY volcano! This cool “science experiment” can teach kids how ingredients react to one another, teaching them the beginnings of basic chemistry, as well as the lesson of cause and effect.
To make your volcano, get an empty plastic bottle and put it on a mound of dry sand (outside is always best for reactive experiments!). Using a funnel, pour some baking soda into the bottle. Next, mix some vinegar and food colouring (this creates a fun visual effect to add additional excitement for the kids!), and pour this into the bottle. Then watch the magic happen (and watch your kids’ faces as they blossom with delight at the cool experiment they made).
Playing a musical instrument
Playing musical instruments is a wonderful way to spend time with your kids, as well as keep them entertained for hours. And you needn’t have an actual instrument in your home – you can make your own from things in your cupboards and drawers.
Some fun musical instruments that you can create at home include an elastic band shoebox guitar, a pot drum with wooden spoon drumsticks, musical glasses filled with different levels of water, paper straw panpipes, spoon maracas, and a paper plate tambourine.
Music can help your kids learn sensory skills, from listening to and combining notes, and holding the items they’re playing their music with. It can help enhance their hand-eye coordination, for example banging that wooden spoon on the pot. It can also teach them patience and perseverance, as they learn to be patient while setting up the musical set and persevere to create sounds that sound good to them. To enroll your child to a good music class, visit Music Academy of Texas. You may also enroll your kid in a children’s online music theory class.
Cooking a meal together
Cooking is a wonderful way to teach kids some valuable life lessons. It can help them to make healthy food choices to look after and nourish their bodies; teach them how to enjoy a greater variety of foods (we all know how picky kids can be with their food!); help them to explore their senses; and teach them basic maths and language skills.
This is one of the goals of eat2explore, creating themed food boxes to teach kids about different countries and cultures, from Asia to Africa, Europe to America. Each box is themed around a country, and includes recipe cards, non-perishable ingredients, an explorer guide to get those little imaginations going, educational activity sheets, fun cooking tools, and collectibles like stickers and country flag pins. A shopping list tells you which additional perishable ingredients are needed, so you and your young chef can shop together, cook together, then enjoy your wonderful meal with the family talking about the adventures you had preparing it!
Creating a family tree
Building a family tree with your kids is a wonderful way to teach them about your family’s heritage – where they came from (were their great-great-great-great grandparents royalty or warriors!), did their ancestors come from different parts of the world, how did the different sides of the family meet – and create a wonderful, exciting story around their ancestry.
Using a big A3 sheet of paper and loads of crayons or colouring pencils, draw and colour in a fun big tree with your child. Then you can add in as many branches as you need! This activity can help teach your kids counting skills, improve their gross and fine motor skills through drawing and colouring in the tree and cutting out pictures or names of family members; help them start learning how to write; and teach them research and history lessons.
And because some children or parents may not feel comfortable mapping out a traditional family tree, consider creating a tree of love. Children who aren’t living with their biological parents, or who are dealing with tricky or traumatic family dynamics, could focus on those who love them or play a special role in their lives. Adopted family, a teacher, friend, carer or activity leader could all be a part of this special tree, and will strengthen your child’s sense of social bonds.
Hands-on play is very important for kids, from playdough to making and playing with slim, singing, dancing, to role-playing with dolls or stuffed toys. These experiential activities can encourage interaction and active listening if your kids are playing with their friends or with you; strengthen fine motor skills; and encourage creativity. It can also help children to practise their problem-solving skills, and interact with different materials and textures – as well as making mistakes and learning from them in a practical, thoughtful manner.
By Rowena Scherer, Founder and CEO of eat2explore