The Growth and Giggles Blog

Ideas for helping parents and their preschoolers.

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Activities and Classes for Preschoolers Structured activities and classes for preschoolers abound these days. Amid the dazzling array of opportunities, how do we know what choices are beneficial for our kids, and how much is too much? A good rule of thumb for preschoolers is to use their age as a guideline for the number of group activities a week. A two-year-old probably can’t handle more than two classes a week (this includes religious services/Sunday school), and a three-year-old shouldn’t have more than three a week. It’s also important to know your child’s personality here. Are they energized by being around people? Do they do better in smaller classes or just doing activities with one other friend? Follow your child’s lead. Art, music, and sports can all be fabulous for preschoolers. The important thing is that they be physically engaging, age appropriate, and focused on experience rather than outcome. Look for activities that provide tactile learning...
How to Make a Travel Activity Book A travel activity book is a spiral notebook filled with learning games and fun activities for times your child needs to do something quiet, like in the doctor’s office, waiting rooms, or during car trips. It’s a combination of activities drawn onto pages, games held in envelopes stapled into the notebook, and blank pages for creative fun. Grab a notebook and let’s get started! Envelope games Pipe-cleaner people. In one envelope put in pre-made pipe-cleaner people, bits of cloth for clothes, and plain pipe cleaners for making props. Playing with posable pipe-cleaner people is great for your child's finger muscles and fine motor skills, and it makes for fun pretend play. You can tie pipe cleaner people onto a car seat for a preschooler so if your child drops them, he can pull them back up again. Tangrams. This doesn’t actually have to be tangrams. Just cut out a variety of...
The Counting Worm Game for Teaching Numbers A counting worm is an engaging game for teaching numbers to preschoolers. Make your counting worm out of an egg carton. Cut one strip of 6 cups. This will be your worm. Draw a face on one end, and add pipe-cleaner antenna if you want. Write the numbers 1 through 6 on each of the bumps on his back. Be sure to write neatly and clearly since your kids are just beginning to learn their numbers. Cut a second strip of 6 cups apart into individual cups. This will be your worm’s “clothes.” On the back of each of these cups, draw dots, 1 through 6. Draw them in the same pattern that dots are drawn on dice. The numbers are easier to recognize in that pattern. Start your game with a story. Say, “This is the counting worm. He’s getting ready to go to school, but he needs your help...
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Learning Games to Play in the Car Does the idea of a car trip with small children fill you with dread? Road trips don’t have to be torture. In fact, they can be an immersion learning opportunity for your kids. If you fill your time in the car with fun games and activities, you can expect your children’s vocabulary and knowledge to grow exponentially in a short time while you cultivate fun memories and a strong relationship. The real challenge of road trips is keeping kids entertained. Here are some ideas that will engage your kids and help them learn and grow at the same time. Play rhyming games. Let the youngest child say a word and have everyone else say a word that rhymes. Try to come up with as many rhymes as possible. Read Piggle by Crosby Bonsall, and play “Piggle” by saying four words that rhyme, mixing up real words and nonsense words. Play I...

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Games to Play with Bean Bags Bean bags are fun learning materials for babies, preschoolers, and even older children. The easiest bean bag to make is to fill a child’s sock with popcorn, beans, or rice, and then tie a knot in the end of the sock. For babies, give them a bowl full of bean bags and let them pull them out and put them in. Say “out” and “in” as they move the bags. This is good for eye-hand coordination, hand strength, and learning the concepts of out and in. As children become able to stand, bean bags work great for throwing games. For ways to teach throwing skills, see this post. A first step is just to have your toddler stand over a bowl and drop the bean bag in. Next, you can teach the throwing motion. Have your toddler or preschooler hold the bean bag and swing their arm back and forth. Tell...