What were the games you liked best at school: skipping, Cat's Cradle, British Bulldog, hand-clapping rhymes, marbles? People would have us believe that all these games have completely been wiped out by the advent of the DS, television, DVDs etc. However recent research has found, not surprisingly, that playground games are as popular and as fun as ever they were!
The Universities of London, Sheffield and East London carried out research on traditional games children play and it found that many of the traditional games we enjoyed are still played today, with some modern references thrown in.
Two years was spent studying the children at play in schools. There were lots of imitation games such as their own version of Britian's Got Talent and chat shows, and lots of mimicking their childhood heroes such as Simon Cowell and pop stars.
The finding suggest that children are in fact better informed by their access to the digital media of today. They are not, as many would have us believe, walking around zombiefied once starved of their Wii or DS. Instead, they use the information they have and build ideas and develop themes in an accomplished way.
The results of the study entitled 'Children's Playground Games and Songs in the New Media Age' will be presented at the British Library next week by former children's laureate Michael Rosen.
Whether they are learning to read, just looking at the pictures or starting to sound out letters, whatever stage your child is at, it is vital to get them enthusiastic about books. No matter the style of book, whether it is the latest release or an old favourite from your own childhood, or if it is from a book shop, a library or is borrowed - get them excited about books. Here are some easy ways!
Bring it alive: That doesn't just mean fun voices and emotion in your voice when you read... why not introduce some sensory experience too. If it's a book about a fish, swimming in rough water, panting to get to the party on time to eat cake... why not get them to take their socks off and paddle in a few inches of water in the bath, then run on the spot and have a mouthful of cake for them to eat along with the characters!
Pictures: There are some super illustrations in children's books, so sometimes just look at the pictures. Spot things, talk about what's not mentioned in the story but that feature in the pictures. Focus on one thing and make up your own little story.
Familiar books: If you have read a book too many times for your liking, talk about changing the ending and decide what else could happen. Change the character and discuss how different animals or people would make the story different.
Other means: Try all sorts of books, cloth books, out sized books, ones with lots of words or just a few. No matter the age of your child, they will get something out of looking or reading a new book, even if its not officially aimed at their age.
Get everyone involved: If you have family visiting get them to read a book or if your little one is starting to read, get them to read to your family or act out their favourite book. Do a puppet show with teddies or dress up in the characters and do a version as a play.
Library: The library will have books in different forms: A book you may have read may also be available in audio CD/spoken word format or as a cartoon or film on DVD. Use these formats too.
Write your own story together: Take some photos of things and print them. Then create your own story. Write the words in a book, stick in the pictures and it will become your own, unique masterpiece!
Children love playing games: it's fun, it's easy and it's a great way of learning without even knowing it!
Early on, games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake and other nursery rhymes form the basis of children's games. This is how the idea of games actually starts. The little ones laugh and smile and begin to understand cause and effect: ie. each time teddy pops out from behind the cushion, it will make them jump and they will laugh! It sounds simple, but it's an early form of game-playing.
They will then progress to all sorts of other games: easy box games, then number, colour and letter games and eventually board games. At each stage they are learning different things and experiencing different ideas. The notion of a winner and loser; the notion of practising at something to get better; the idea that you need to make an effort and try hard at something to then enjoy the feeling of doing well etc.
What are the benefits of playing games? Does it really help in any way other than passing the time?
- Patience and fair play: they can't interrupt or snatch when playing a game. They need to learn to take turns.
- Fine motor skills: moving counters, placing items on a board, balancing things on a horse. Most board games help improve fine motor skills.
- Sportsmanship: they should congratulate the winner rather than get stroppy at not winning!
- Gross motor skills: many outdoor games involving balls, hoops, balancing etc. help with gross motor skills.
- Develop relationships: playing games helps improve and develop relationships between families and friends. Laugh, play and chat about the game together and see how much fun you all have!
- Thinking: as they play games, young children will begin to learn strategy - high dice rolls mean moving further, which squares to avoid because they have penalties etc.
- Keep games easy and short at the start. Don't make it too complicated or long winded.
- Don't let them win all the time! It is tempting but does them no good in the end.
- If they look tired or bored don't force them. Make games fun, not a chore.
- If ever they ask to play a game with you, try to say yes! They need as much encouragement and support as you can give.
- Try to play enthusiastically. You may not be in the mood to play, but try to make the games fun!
Surely, once children begin to read or learn their numbers they should be doing that in their spare time, rather than playing? This couldn't be further from the truth! In fact, children that play tend to become better and more attentive learners on average, and what you must remember is that when chidren are playing, the are learning the whole time too! This is what ToucanLearn is all about... sharing ideas of games, activities and crafts that are GREAT FUN, but we show you the learning elements too so you can see exactly what your little ones are actually learning about. As they are doing the activities with you, they are learning even more (Two CAN Learn much better than one)!
Do you need special equipment at each age stage in order to encourage your child to play?
NO! Play can involve anything (more or less!). From wooden spoons and saucepans, to folded socks and a washing basket! It can mean jumping in puddles to learn counting or throwing gloves to see how far you can get them or posting junk mail into a shoe box made into a letter box. All sorts of things can be used as long as you are there to help the game along!
What do children learn through play?
They learn about the properties of objects and how they work. That if you throw something hard, it will go far. They learn about their own limitations: they may be great on the scooter but not so confident on a bike. They learn about their environment (stairs and steps) and other places (on a walk to the park). They learn how to play with other children and how to interact with adults.
Will playing make them better at school?
Many studies have concluded that children that play with their parents are more curious and interested in learning. Playing is a great way to get them active and interested. It may also help their social skills and helps develop healthy relationships with other children.
Plus, possibly most importantly, by playing with your children, you are developing and securing your won relationship with them - which is absolutley vital.
So, just get out there and do some ToucanLearn activities, fool around, have a laugh and enjoy these special years when playing can be so much fun for your both!
Exposing chiuldren to numbers early through counting and number games males them familiar with numbers from a young age. Numbers are very important to a child's education and so many children 'struggle', but it needn't be like this. Numbers are all around us and simply becoming familiar with numbers when they are little, is the best way to get a head start and give your children confidence for later life. Most importantly, you don't need to be a maths genius yourself! If you make it fun, they won't even know they are learning.
Here are a few number and counting games to introduce numbers in your everyday life:
Count things: How many pototoes on to a plate? How many stairs as you walk up, grapes as you eat them?
Spot numbers: When you are out, look at door numbers, telephone numbers, car number plates, prices in shops and other numbers that can be observed all around.
Number games: Count the flowers in the garden, throw socks into a basket and count as you go, count how long it takes to run from one end of the garden to the other.
Number songs: Sing number songs like Once I Caught A Fish Alive, Five Fat Sausages and Ten Green Bottles.
Count your shopping: How many pieces of fruit in the basket? How many boxes in the trolley? Play shops at home too and count, make price tags and add up the food you buy together.
Get cooking: Measure and weigh the ingredients, count the paper cake cases, time the cooking, give 20 stirs with a wooden spoon.
Measure things: How tall is the chair? How tall is you child, or a teddy or the book shelf?
Get cleaning: Get your children to wipe the tables 20 times, dust the book shelf 15 times, splash the outside chairs with bubbly water 10 times.
Washing up: Count and clean the plastic cups and plates and do the washing up at the same time. How many are in the bowl, how many are drying, how many are clean?
Play is important for every child and for the first few years of their lives, babies and toddlers learn a huge amount during what they consider to be 'play'. This is why teaching through play is such a great way to guide and educate our children because the message gets through, they learn and yet it all happens while they are having fun, playing!
During play, children expand their understand of the world, their understanding of themselves, and indeed their understanding of other people. Once children play together, it is also a way to start communicating with other children and sharing ideas and games.
By six months, children have learned, through trial and error, various sequences that they practice. If they push a ball, it rolls! They see that something happens and they like the feeling of it happening. They are learning to grip and drop and use their hands.
By nine months they might push a ball, crawl to get it and push it again. They master new skills and make the play more interesting and complex for themselves. They use props more and gravitate towards toys they like.
By a year, they are able to be even more accurate with their props/toys. They know a rattle will rattle and can kick or throw or roll a ball.
Types of play
- Sensory play: As they gain confidence and control their games become even more complex. They enjoy the sensation of movement such as swings and slides. They will do things over again to relive the experience.
- Pretend Play: Children begin by being adult led and take the initiative from parents when starting out with pretend play. Once they see what they can do, they may take the lead. They may take familiar roles of doctor, or Dad when playing. They may need, props and costumes and will probably be happy making a dressing gown into a super hero cape or tying a scarf round their head to make a princess veil.
- By 4 or 5, pretend play becomes peer focused and they children will happy to share a pretend game together, working out what to do and who is going to be who in the game. They will discuss the rules of the game, how it will unfold. They may well guide behaviour by suggesting an action. "You'll need to drink your tea before you go to work, Dad." Pre-schoolers will also have to overcome conflict and negotiate.
- Constructive play: Blocks and boxes are used to create a pretend miniature world. This type of play, allows the child complete freedom to create a world of their own.
- Physical Play: Rough and tumble, running games, chasing games are all popular with pre-schoolers. They have more control at this age and can jump, run, climb and chase. Overly aggressive behaviour should be checked, but it's all about learning how to control their body and what they are capable of.
- Organised games: A more logical and formal game arrangement becomes popular between 4 and 5 years old. They can cope with and understand the idea of having rules and are able to follow those rules in order to have a fun game. The idea of competition is introduced and that of winner or loser! Teams are also introduced and the idea of working together for a common goal.
What's our role?
Observe and comment in a positive way to encourage them.
Play with them especially when they are young, It affirms the idea of playing and makes them feel worthwhile if you are willing to play too.
Create a playful atmosphere and allow them to play - give them permission to make some noise or a mess!
Make suggestions if they are stuck.
Ensure everyone plays safely ie. the equipment is safe and that the children behave properly too!
Playing games with your little ones is great, they love the attention, the interaction and the challenge of a proper board game with rules and a dice and characters to move around. The temptation for many parents is to let their children win all the time. Deal the cards favorably, land on the snake when it really was the ladder or simply miscount the number on the dice.
However, there comes a time when your child will have to learn about winning and loosing: whether its a table top game or a team sport. Rather than allow them only to feel the thrill of winning every time, children need to learn about losing - because it does happen.
By letting them lose sometimes when they are little, it will encourage them to be gracious whether winning or loosing. It's fine to feel happy about winning - of course it is. And, to feel a little sad if you lose. But the important thing is to teach them about playing fairly and the importance of doing their best. Let them win sometimes, but if they are used to winning every time, you may end up with a stroppy, moody opponent, rather than a fun opponent!