One of the joys of having preschool children is that you needn't be confined to your home - there are plenty of places that you can take young children that allow you the freedom to be out, and that extend their understanding of the world around them. When you think of places to go out with your children, some of the obvious places are the local park, playgroups and soft play - these are obviously child-oriented.
But consider also other places that might not otherwise spring to mind. Take them on a bus or a train - you don't need to head anywhere special, just take them for a ride. Take them to shopping centres not simply to shop, but to explore the spaces. Sit and talk with your little ones about what you can see. Go to your local library and swimming pool, visit any local museums or galleries.
Although you may not consider many of these spaces to be 'child friendly', preschool children will find plenty to keep them stimulated in even, what might appear to you to be, the most ordinary environments. Remember that the world offers so many new experiences for babies and toddlers and just being out and about will stimulate them far more than you might imagine. They are constantly taking in new sights, smells and sounds, and everything that they experience is building up their knowledge and understanding of the world. Babies and young toddlers will go wherever you take them and every day presents new adventures for them.
New research brings consensus to the idea that the dinosaurs were wiped out after a phenomenal asteroid collision sited at what is now the Yucatan Peninsular in Mexico - this is the stuff of boys' imagination, combining two fascinating boundaries of knowledge: dinosaurs and space.
Although your little ones are probably too young to comprehend the reality of either space or dinosaurs, why not at least introduce these ideas? No matter where you live you probably aren't that far from a museum that has exhibits on at least one, if not both, of these topical areas. Plan a visit and activities around one of these two areas!
To foster an interest in space, take your little ones outside after dark to observe the moon and stars; explain that every star is like our sun but so far away that they appear to be tiny. Talk about concepts of near and far based on things you can see nearby, explain how further objects appear to be smaller than nearby ones.
Introduce the idea that we live on a planet called Earth and that there are lots of other planets in space but so far away that we can't see them. Look at a map of the world and describe how we have lots of countries and lots of sea, and perhaps name some of the countries that your little ones might have heard of.
Create a spaceship out of old bottles, boxes or cartons and encourage your kids to go off exploring the universe!
Time is a very confusing and abstract concept. Children struggle to distinguish 'today', 'tomorrow' and 'yesterday', so having them conceptiualise dinosoars roaming the land hundreds of millions of years ago is going to be a challenge! But you can explain that dinosaurs were like giant monsters and that there were lots of them a long, long time ago!
Find pictures of dinosaurs in a book, online, or best of all, in a sticker book, and look at the different creatures. Point out their different characteristics such the styles of their legs, tails, horns; maybe some of them have funny necks and small heads, others might have huge teeth; lots walk, some fly, others swim. Study the pictures and tell your children their names. See if they can pronounce the really tricky ones - to them the sounds may be no more alien than many of the other words and phrases they hear every day.
Why not make a dinosaur park? Draw and cut out your own dinosaurs, make more out of card or old bottles, and see if you can create a dinosaur menagerie.
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