Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Sneak" Learning Into Every Day Activities

Learning about the old school house during a tour at Jones' Dairy
AKA the Taylorsville/Bennion Heritage Center

I recently had a friend ask me how I got my preschool and kindergarten age kids to sit down and go over flash cards. I started thinking about it, and we never really have sat down and "studied", yet my kids know the content. I started thinking about how we DO study the required items, and realized that we incorporate it into every day situations.

If your child is one that won't sit still long enough to go through a pile of flash cards, below are some ways we have found work for us in getting kids to learn. These are appropriate for all different age groups:

General Learning:
  • Ask "What (or why) do YOU think?" in answer to a question they are asking you. Let them try to think it out. (Thanks Katherine for the idea!)
  • When your child wants to watch cartoons, suggest a learning cartoon, like the ones shown on PBS Kids. Your child will think they are "getting to" watch cartoons, when in reality they are learning a ton! (Thanks Mary for the idea!)
  • I count things out loud, I read to my kids and for fun for myself, I quiz her on things we learned earlier as often as I think of those things, and I give her hugs and cuddles for getting things right (and that's pretty often)... I am upbeat about it to teach that learning is fun, reading is fun, and these are things we seek to do for pleasure. That's the most important thing I want to teach; to love learning and to do it for pleasure. (Thanks Priscila for the idea!)
  • Get them helping with laundry. They can match socks! They can measure and pour out the detergent. They can sort whites, lights, and darks. I think the most important thing is to just have fun! It has been said 'that a child's work IS PLAY.' They learn so much just by being allowed to play, and to role model YOU. (Thanks Catherine for the idea!
  • I like to do the, "I can't figure this out. Can you?" game. I let them figure or work out something, letting them gain self autonomy, and get their deductive reasoning skills working, while building their self esteem and confidence, even though i clearly could have figured it out, or done it a whole lot faster. (Thanks Catherine for the idea!)
  • Play games, like Rummikub, and match the colors, then line up in numerical order (Thanks Becky for the  idea!)
  • When your children ask questions, answer them back with a question that will make them think. If they ask you a question that you are not sure about, research it together. (Thanks Candice for the idea!)
  • We rhyme during our commute to school. i.e. learning, burning, turning. Also, if they can guess the correct color of Skittle/M&M they get to eat it. (Thanks Stephanie for the idea!)
  • Asking questions. If my son asks me something, my first response is "what do you think?". This helps him learn to verbalize, reason, problem solve etc." (Thanks Angela for the idea!)
  • One fun thing we do is play counting, rhyming and association games in the car. Like lets see how many American flags are on the way to your preschool? (The most we've counted is 16) or our association game "I must and you must". I say, "I must be peanut butter" and she'll say "I must be a jelly" (That game goes on and on!) (Thanks Maryana for the idea!)
  • Your idea here! Email your suggestions to

  •  If they can guess the correct color of Skittle/M&M they get to eat it. (Thanks Stephanie for the idea!)
  • Your idea here! Email your suggestions to

Numbers and Telling Time:
  • Buy a digital alarm clock. Asking your child to tell you what numbers are on the clock make them feel like they are being big helpers, and also help them practice recognizing numbers.
  • If your child asks what time it is, ask them "What number is the little hand pointing to? What number is the big hand pointing to?" (Thanks Katherine for the idea!)
  • Your idea here! Email your suggestions to

  • Play "I Spy" with letters. This is a great calm-down activity for car rides, sitting in the doctor's office, or any time you need a distraction activity. (Thanks Jacki for the idea!)
  • Your idea here! Email your suggestions to

Math and Counting Money:
  • When handing out afternoon snacks, "sneak in" math problems such as "Hmm.....we have 10 pieces of cheese, and 5 kids. How many pieces of cheese should we give each person to make it even?"
  • When making cookies, ask your child "If we need 1 cup of flour, and we only have a 1/2 cup measuring cup, how many should we put in??
  • When making cookies, double the recipe and have the kids figure out how much to put in, even though you know the answer. (Thanks Candice for the idea!)
  • We spend a lot of time at baseball games, but when there is a 'snack shack' and the kids want a treat, they have to find out 1)what it is they want 2) how much it is and then 3) they get to count out the change needed to go purchase their treat. I sometimes give them challenges like, "you can only use 5 coins, or if they are to get change back, how much, so they know to wait for it (rather than run off without it). (Thanks Catherine for the idea!)
  • Your idea here! Email your suggestions to

  • When driving past a historical place, point it out and discuss briefly what the place is and how it's important to history. Make a plan to visit and take a tour in the future.
  • When checking out books at the library, sneak in some books that talk about historic events.
  • Use abnormal occurrences to teach a history lesson. For example, when the power goes out, get out candles and talk about how their Great Great Grandma didn't have electricity, and how the pioneers survived without it.  
  • Your idea here! Email your suggestions to

Reading, Writing and Spelling:
  • Kindergarten Site Words: Instead of drilling them with flash cards, help them label things around the house that they use often. Use site words in your labeling. For example: THE fridge, HER book, SHE likes this, HIS bed, etc.
  • Have your kids write your grocery list. "Sally, will you do me a favor and write ketchup on the grocery list?" It helps with spelling and handwriting. Have them find it in the grocery store, and it will help with organization skills! (Thanks Catherine for the idea!)
  • Your idea here! Email your suggestions to

Teaching Finances, Budgeting, and Saving:

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