Sometimes less is more, simple is the most effective and handmade is the way to go. Below I have put together some of my favourite activities for kids. They can be modified, made easier or harder and can be done with kids of all ages, even babies! Educators, these activities are excellent in a classroom setting as well. All activities provide open-ended and engaging learning experiences for children of all abilities and can be used to accomplish many curriculum goals. Science, math, literacy, art, drama – I’ve got you covered!
1. Box Play
Can we all agree that a box is never just a box to a child? Box Play. It’s simple, it’s affordable, the play is imaginative and for all ages. No batteries, no flashing lights. It’s back to basics. Children, especially the little ones, love enclosed spaces which is one of the reasons why a box is so appealing. A box is also open-ended and can be used for absolutely anything from space ships to fire trucks. How neat would it be if your children came down to the living room on a Saturday morning or if your students walked into their classroom and saw a pile of boxes. You can challenge them to build something tall, something sturdy, something magical, something that moves, etc. The sky is the limit!
Need some inspiration? Not a Box is a great book to read before engaging in any box play. I can almost guarantee something in that book will spark some creativity!
2. DIY Light Table
Traditional light tables can be very expensive. I remember when I was a supervisor, a teacher approached me wanting to purchase a light table for her classroom but we just didn’t have the budget for it. So, what did she do? She made her own! Her students absolutely loved it. I thought it was brilliant so when my daughter recently started showing an interest in light and shadow play, I made her one. I used a bin I found in my basement, tin foil, white tissue paper and twinkle lights which can be purchased at the dollar store. The entire light table costs about $30.00. Below is everything you to need to know to make your own DIY light table!
Clear bin with a lid
White tissue paper
Twinkle lights (can be found at the dollar store)
Any items that are translucent
Follow these simple steps:
1. Grab your clear bin
2. Fill the inside with tinfoil and tape it all in place
3. Add your twinkle lights to the bin and turn them on
4. Tape white tissue paper to the inside of the lid
5. Flip the lid over, close the bin and VOILA. Hours of fun and discovery!
3. Open-Ended Art
Yes, crafts are sweet and some children do love creating something with a set of instructions. A butterfly, a snowman, a ladybug. But, there are many children who will sit at a table, glue on a piece of tissue paper and they are off to the next thing. Ever wonder why when you buy a craft kit from the dollar store, your children spend only a few minutes creating the craft and they move on? Traditional craft boxes can be closed-ended and do not leave room for creativity and imagination. My suggestion is to invite children to create with open-ended materials, with no boundaries and with no set of instructions. I remember growing up, my mom had a craft bin. A giant Tupperware filled with different craft materials and I remember sitting for hours using the different materials to simply create whatever I wanted. It was meaningful to me and I was able to be creative. Grab a muffin tin, a cutlery organizer or a dip tray and fill it with different art supplies. Offer different art utensils as well, like markers, crayons, scissors, glue. Let your children direct the art activity and create whatever comes to mind! You can also take the activity outdoors. Back a bag will a sketch book, some crayons or pencil crayons, markers, paint, etc. Find a nice shady area and allow your children to sketch whatever inspires them in nature.