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Learning at Home

Keeping children’s school skills sharp outside of the classroom – especially during school vacations – can be fun if you construct activities around their interests. Here are some activities that you can use to foster learning beyond the school doors.


Reading and Writing




  • Take time to read aloud. To encourage verbal skills, have your child re-tell the story in her own words when you’re finished reading.



  • Visit the library. If you let children pick books that they’re interested in, they’ll want to keep going back. Encourage your child to explore library activities.




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    Award-winning teacher, education writer and author of the new book Straight Talk About Schools Today, Judy Molland shares some practical advice for parents on how to help their children be successful in school.


    How to Keep Learning Alive During School Vacation



  • Play word games. Classic board games such as Scrabble and Boggle offer opportunities to build word power.



  • Create a treasure hunt. Have kids follow written clues hidden indoors and out to eventually find a new book or box of stationary.



  • Play word bingo. Make a bingo card with words or letters in the squares that the caller announces.



  • Write your own books. Have kids staple construction paper together and write and illustrate a book. Younger children can dictate stories to adults.



  • Write it down. Keeping a daily journal can be a great way for children to keep track of important events and experiment with poetry.





  • P>Write letters. Instead of calling a friend or grandparent, have your children write letters.


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    P>Be a critic. Read a book and then watch a movie based on it. Ask your child to compare the two versions.


P>Math


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P>Play thinking games. Traditional games such as checkers, chess and Parcheesi get children thinking through strategies for blocking moves and getting ahead. Dice games help with addition and multiplication.


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P>Play with building toys. Tinker Toys™, Legos™ and blocks help children to think spatially.


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P>Let kids pay. Or at least let them count out the money for the ice cream truck.


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P>Bring math into the kitchen. Cooking and baking involve measuring, adding and dividing.


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P>Estimate travel times. Before a trip, tell children how many miles it is to the beach and how fast you will go; then ask them how long it should take to get there.


P>Science


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P>Mix colors. Fill a glass jar with water and a thin layer of cooking oil. Add a drop of two different food colors. Watch as the colors form a new color when they reach the water. Try to make different colors.


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P>Examine the properties of substances. Put a drop of salt water and sugar water on a paper plate. Let the drops dry and then examine them under a magnifying glass. Describe the residue that is left.


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P>Look at the magnetic properties of materials – Give your child refrigerator magnets and a variety of objects, such as paper clips or marbles. What happens when two magnets are brought close together? What does the magnet attract?


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P>Learn about biology. Observe fish and marine life during a trip to the beach. What do these animals eat? How many types of shells can you find?


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P>Study ecology. Listen and observe birds. How are they the same or different from other birds? What do animals need to eat to survive?


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P>Learn about meteorology. Talk about the seasons. Learn the names of common clouds. Measure the snowfall height after a storm.


P>At Home, Everyone Can Be a Star


P>Opportunities abound to introduce your children to drama. Adding creative flair to mundane moments will show your children that “the play” is indeed “the thing.”


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P>Theater is storytelling. Expose your children to the joys of language, and talk about the stories you read together. Ask, “Why did the characters make certain decisions? What will happen next?”


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P>Dress-up and act out. Fill a box with old clothes for dressing up. Provide colored scarves that can become capes, ball gowns or princess hair. A refrigerator box can become a puppet theater or a main prop. Encourage open-ended play.


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Make-believe. Encourage your children’s imagination with fantasy play. Ask them to imitate their favorite animal. Play charades, practice pantomime, put on music and dance in your living room.



  • Incorporate theater into family celebrations. Holidays are perfect for quick skits. Help the children in your family act out the story of the first Thanksgiving. Invite the neighbors to stage a dramatic reading of The Twelve Days of Christmas – complete with lords a-leaping and ladies dancing.



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