Teacher-Approved Indoor Activities for Kids

Teacher-Approved Indoor Activities for Kids

This post is brought to you by Wacom

The teacher-in-me is constantly mentally stockpiling ideas for indoor activities for kids.

I’m always on the look out for play-based ideas that are simple and flexible but infused with opportunities for learning.
This map-making activity is fun, light on resources and full of conversational opportunities.
I shall also include some of the prompts that I use to gently guide the learning. (These are shown in italics.)
But feel free to go off-script – look for the teachable moments!

Stick to the end- For NSW residents, I’ve got an awesome offer to share with you from Wacom Australia that takes creative indoor activities for kids to the next level (wherever that may be!)

Step 1: The Walk-Through and Drafting Your Map

I equipped my two older children (aged 6.5 and almost-5) with a clipboard each and we stood at our back door. The 3-year-old was happily engaged in independent play so she didn’t come along for this part of the ride.

What learning is happening here? I began with some positional language.
What is behind us? What is to the left of us?
What is in front of us?
Once we discussed the lay out of where we were, we began discussing how we would represent this on paper.
At this point, it is useful to discuss map-making as taking a bird’s eye view.
My almost-5-year-old wanted to draw a roof on his map but we discussed how we were like birds looking down on our house.

What learning is happening here? We discussed the shapes we could use to represent different sections of our house and each began sketching a map. I modeled on my clipboard.
How many sides does that have?

As we walked through the house, we counted our steps between points.
What learning is happening here? We explored measurement by chatting about how the size of our feet led to different answers between the three of us.

Step 1 involved a lot of mathematical thinking. Step 2 involves a lot of literacy and fine-motor skills.

Step 2: The Collaborative Map

I’m not gunna lie.
In a perfect world, this activity would have involved compliant children thirsty for knowledge.
In reality, one child was in a *MOOD* and frustrated by perfectionist tendencies.

This led to a discussion around flipping to a positive mindset and things not needing to be perfect.
So teach to the teachable moments.

After walking through the house, we took our draft maps to the dining table and set to creating a final map with coloured paper.

We cut the shapes out and arranged them. In an ideal world, my children would have refined their scissor skills and cut the shapes out but, as per the above disclaimer, there were varying levels of cooperation.
What learning is happening here? As I cut, we discussed the layout of the house. So again we were reinforcing positional language and spatial awareness.

What was Miss 3 doing whilst this was happening? I set her up with a big sheet of paper and some coloured paper. She went wild with collage and every now and then we’d chat colours and shapes.

I then asked my first-grader to label the parts of the house.
What learning is happening here? She used her letter-sound knowledge to spell unknown words. We also discussed syllables and how we can use syllabification when spelling unknown words.
“Pan-try. How many syllables in pantry? You know how to spell pan! How would you spell the second chunk?”

Once all the spaces in the house were labelled, we brainstormed a list of activities we could do in each space in the event of extended periods spent at home. Call it an “I’m-Bored-Combat-Plan.”
We used dot stickers to highlight places where we could go for some chill-out time should we need it.

Want to take this activity to the next-level? Test your digital drawing skills using a Wacom Intuos.
We used our Creative Kids Vouchers to score a Wacom Intuos, and it is HANDS DOWN, the best value use of the voucher that I have come across. (Trust me- I did a whole heap of research! Note: For residents of NSW Australia only.)
Read about it here and find 3 more creative ideas for indoor activities for kids from the team at Wacom.

Starting School Tips: Lunch Boxes

Starting School Tips: Lunch Boxes

I have done the first day of Kindy a fair few times as a teacher. When my eldest started school earlier this year I learned that starting school is a WHOLE NEW BALLGAME from a parenting perspective. Here are some of my starting school tips to help you navigate the Brave New World of Big School with your little scholar.

Let’s begin by talking lunch boxes.

If I had a dollar for every time a Kindy student told me, during those first few weeks of Big School, that they had eaten ALL their food at first break and now had nothing to eat at second break, well, I’d be semi-retired from teaching.

Starting School Tips: Lunch boxes

• What designated eating times are scheduled at your child’s Big School? In the weeks before school starts, try and have your children eat at the same times as the school bells. My kids seem to think that I run a smorgasbord restaurant open 24/7 so this was an interesting transition for them. Also a good/ sneaky chance to do some learning about telling the time.

• Familiarise your little with the language used by the school. Is it little lunch? Or recess? Or Break 1?

• Make sure your kids practise eating from their lunch boxes. Explicitly explain what is in each compartment and when it is to be eaten. “The food in the big section is for Big Lunch, the food in the little section is for Recess.”

• The above step is also super important for checking to see which containers or packaging they have difficulty opening. Sometimes kids just need to be shown how to open something. Sometimes we might just have to modify how we give the food.

I KEEP FORGETTING TO PACK A SPOON FOR THE YOGHURT! Hello teachable moment! A good chance to discuss with your child what they would do if this happened at school. Who would they approach? How would they ask for help? Model and practise some sentence starters with your child.

• This is also the perfect opportunity to discuss with your child the types of food they would like to see in their lunch box. I’ve been told that if an orange slice appears for Crunch and Sip then it WILL NOT be eaten. Okay, noted.

• Don’t stress! PLAYING at lunch time is just as important as eating. I’m pretty sure most of us didn’t eat everything in our lunch boxes as kids, and we all lived to tell the tale.

•  I basically live on the Goodie Goodie Lunchbox website. SO many simple, nutritious and WINNING ideas for lunch boxes.