Does it seem like every time you turn around your home is being taken apart by your little explorer? It’s easy for parents to become angry over such seemingly destructive behavior, and rightfully so — we have to pay for the damage! However, such behavior is often simply the result of an extraordinary desire to learn. These are our future scientists, inventors and leaders.
When your child is in need of something to occupy her creative energy, have her try some of these fun, educational activities.
- Put together a book of facts. Choose a favorite interest such as dinosaurs, horses, rock bands, sports or astronomy. Clip pictures and information from magazines and Internet printouts, then trace drawings from books and write about personal experiences with the topic.
- Make up a scavenger hunt. For small children, make a list of easy-to-find items. Give older kids a greater challenge by giving them a list of puzzles to solve in order to determine what items they must find. Kids also might have fun creating their own scavenger hunt for family or friends to try.
- Play restaurant. Have your child make up a restaurant menu with several simple dishes that he can prepare. At dinner time, allow your child to seat the family, take your orders, then prepare and serve the dishes. (Suggestion: Bring along some reading while you wait).
- Recycling fun. Start a discard collection and teach your kids the importance of recycling and reusing disposable items. Get their creative juices flowing by saving zippers and buttons from old clothing, plastic containers, fabric strips, packing materials, small scraps of wood, carpet and wallpaper scraps — just about anything that won’t rot. Once a variety of odds and ends has been collected, supply kids with scissors, tape and glue and let them go to work. Offer suggestions to get them started then let them come up with their own creations.
- Make a United States puzzle. Purchase several colors of clay and a United States map. Then clip each state from the map, place a state over the rolled out clay, and trace the shape into the clay with a toothpick. Cut out the shapes then write the name of the state with a pencil tip. Be sure to use a different color of clay for each neighboring state, then let the shapes dry or bake according to instructions.
- Play “Thomas Edison.” Save old kitchen appliances, computers, VCRs and other electronics. Give your child a supply of kid-sized tools such as pliers, screwdrivers and safety glasses, and let her go to work. Kids love this type of exploration and learn just by taking apart and examining the inner workings of electronics. As a word of caution, cut the electrical cord before your child begins in order to prevent any mishaps, and supervise for sharp parts or mechanisms that could pinch fingers.
- Create a video. Have your children make up several humorous television commercials using household items for props and dressing up for the part. After they’ve rehearsed their skits, set up a video camera and tape their production.
EXPLORATION ON THE GO
Kids can expand their horizons while having fun at area museums.
- Art museums are a great place to find activities that’ll spark your child’s interest. Many offer art and craft workshops, traveling exhibits and even performances.
- Explore everything from dinosaur digs to pioneer artifacts at a science or history museum, where kids can learn how things work and how they used to work. Many museums offer special family events as well as workshops and educational programs for children.