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After School Hands On Learning Activities

Many parents feel that at-home learning should be an extension of the classroom and try to continue a similar structure to academic learning in school. However, offering a "break" that looks and feels like play is actually an opportunity for more learning. These activities are fun to do and keep those young minds actively engaged in learning all the way through to dinner time. All you need is a little organization to get started.

Finding Hidden Objects

Many of today's popular computer games for children feature a search for hidden objects. Set in plain sight among a jumble of other objects, the listed items to be found can be ridiculously hard to spot. It requires concentration and delivers rewards, so kids feel accomplished when they finish a level.

The game can also be modified to improve reading skills. Every story has the fundamental elements of who, what, when, where and why. Each of these items can be a "hidden object" in a story that your child can read. Have them write the part of the story that corresponds to each of those elements and prepare to offer a grand reward when they "find" them all.

Marking the Math

Prepare for this game by creating four cards marked with the mathematical operational signs (+, -, X and ÷). Go through a deck of cards and take out an ace, two, three, four and five. Finally, collect a dozen or more items for game pieces. Stuffed animals might be fun for younger kids; Lego's® might be more fun for older kids, or for kids who can manage bigger numbers.

Start by having your child randomly choose one of the operations cards while you place a number of game pieces on the floor. Your number of pieces is the first number of the math equation. Have your child then pull one of the five cards. That number is the other number in the math equation. The operations card tells your child what function to perform to find the answer to the equation. Doing multiple equations with a single operations card allows your child to practice and understand how that mathematical function works.

Writing the Right Letter

Some kids are perplexed by the fact that some letters have similar shapes to other letters. The lower-case letters "p" and "q" are mirror images of each other, which can make it hard for young minds to differentiate between the two. Sometimes, kinetic activities can make the difference to help these young minds grasp the distinction.

For this game, gather a variety of art supplies. Let your child use clay or play dough to mold the shapes of the letters. Have them make more than one example in different sizes or colors. Cut out a large-size shape of a letter (or let your child do the cutting), and let him or her color it in bright colors. Lay it on the floor and let your child walk around the shape while singing the sound it makes. For older children, have them look for the letter in magazines or books and give them a treat or a reward when they find one, or three, or a dozen.

Engaging your child's mind through organized play keeps them learning all day long. Start his or her educational career off right with these fun (and educational!) at-home games.

To learn more about the Brain Balance Program and our whole-child approach, contact us online or find a center near you.

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