Category: Learning Activities

Home / Learning Activities / TV /
Media gets a bad rap, but it doesn't have to be bad. Here are some tips for using media to supplment education

How to Use Media to Supplement Education

Media gets a bad rap.

I don’t think it is all bad. But, I do think that too much of anything is never good. So when you’re thinking about your children’s relationship with media, do make sure it’s not the only activity they’re participating in.

So head outside, read some books, do a puzzle.

And as long as you’re doing all those real-world things, a little media can be a great supplement to your child’s education. And you don’t even have to feel guilty about it!

Here are some tips for using media.

Make It Active

Passively sitting in front of the television won’t offer many educational benefits. To use movies or episodes as a learning tool, you must engage the brain with some activity.

Here are some ideas for making that happen:

  • Encourage your child to draw while watching–they can draw:
    • The setting of the movie
    • A main character
    • Their favorite part
    • What they think will happen at the end
  • Talk about what you’re watching. Don’t be afraid to hit pause.
  • Work on a hobby while watching; crocheting, knitting, drawing
  • Do jumping jacks during one commercial break and sit ups on another

Tie it Into Your Schooling

Is your child studying pioneer life? Are they learning about ocean life?

No matter what your child is studying, there’s probably some form of entertainment you can use. Look for documentaries, child friendly films, or apps that reinforce the concepts.

Have your child read the words on the video games, look for patterns in the levels they play, and describe the characters with adjectives.

There are so many ways to tie media into learning!

Extend the Learning

Don’t just shut the television or tablet off and walk away. Spend a few minutes extending the learning, to help your child make connections. Try to find activities that activate different parts of the brain, and rely on your child’s learning strengths. You could:

  • Act out a favorite scene
  • Write a review
  • Do a craft project inspired by the media
  • Create a matching game with index cards inspired by the media
  • Share three facts you learned while watching
  • Draw a movie poster

How Do You Use Media to Enhance Learning?

I’d love to hear your best tips for enhancing learning with media. Do your kids have a favorite series, app, or game that reinforces what they’re learning about? Please share in the comments!

Looking for more ways to integrate media?”Check out this graphic from theย Christian movie streaming service Pure Flix.

 

Save

How to Practice the Alphabet with a Computer Keyboard

We have a USB keyboard that we occasionally use. When it’s not hooked up to the computer, my kids love playing with it! I’ve learned it’s a fabulous way for them to practice the alphabet.

Here are a few activities we use it for:

Type the ABCs in Order

I ask my kids to hunt and peck the alphabet, in order. This forces them to look at all the letters, and use their ability to recognize a letter by shape.

As they search for each letter, I ask them to sing the ABC song, slowly. So they sing “A” as they hit the A key, and “B” as they hit the B key, and so on.

Once they hit Z, I ask them to do it again, a bit faster.

They keep practicing the alphabet until they can find each letter in the amount of time it takes to sing the ABC song normally.

Name the Letters in QWERTY Order

Using the non-alphabetical order on the keyboard is a great activity for ensuring your child knows each letter. I just have my child start at Q, and name all the letters in the top row.

Then we move to the A and do all those letters.

We finish with the last row, starting with Z.

Letter Sounds

When we work on letter sounds, I can point to a letter and ask my child to say the sound. She’ll say the sound, and then type the letter.

We’ll typically do 10-15 letter in a single setting.

Any that my child can’t automatically name, I know I need to continue working on that letter with her. It’s an easy way for me to assess progress in a way my child thinks is a game! ๐Ÿ˜€

Spell Your Name

My kids love trying to spell their name on the keyboard. So, I’ll ask them to find all the letters in their name. And in my name. And spell Dad. With 10 people in our family, there’s always a name to practice!

Play Store

We love to bring the keyboard out when we’re playing store. The cashier sits and pretends to type out several things:

  • The names of customers
  • Items in the store for sale
  • The name of the store
  • Prices on items

Even if they’re using invented spelling, it’s a fun way to practice the alphabet and letter sounds.

Do Your Kids Enjoy Using a Keyboard?

If you have an extra (or broken) keyboard lying around, try letting your kids practice the alphabet with it. It’s a favorite activity here (along with the old-fashioned typewriter!)

Of course you’ll want to make sure there aren’t any keys popping off, as that could be a choking hazard.

If you give it a try, come back and let me know what your kids thought!

 

Help your little learners practice the alphabet with a computer keyboard.

Save

Flying a kite isn't only fun, it's very beneficial!

5 Interesting Ways Your Child Benefits from Flying a Kite

Have you flown a kite with your child yet this spring? My kids got kites for Easter from my mom, and we’ve spent a couple of lazy afternoons trying to keep them in the air.

Flying a kite isn’t only fun, it’s also beneficial. In addition to the obvious gross motor skills, your child is working on several key areas. But before we dive into those benefits, let’s talk about what you’ll need for a successful kite flying adventure.

Before Setting Out to Fly a Kite

Of course you’ll need a kite! The cheap ones from Walmart work just fine. But, if you have younger kids, be sure to get the diamond shaped kites.

Those are way more aerodynamic than the round ones, so your child will have an easier time flying.

You’ll also need a safe place. We head up to our upper field, because there aren’t any power lines or kite eating trees :D.

Make sure it’s a windy day. We wait until our flag is flying fairly horizontally before heading out.

Water is also essential, especially if it’s a warm day. Bring a couple of bottles along so you all stay hydrated.

Once you’re at your ideal location, help your kids get their kites up. My littles enjoy just running while holding onto the string, while my middles and big actually do quite well at getting the kites in the air. While they’re flying, your kids will be learning the following skills:

1. Understanding of Aerodynamics

Different shaped kites react differently to the wind. If you have a couple of different shapes, let your kids experiment with them and describe the experience with each.

Regardless of kite shape, your child will be feeling the wind interact with the kite and the string. As they move, the kite moves. The more they fly, the better handle they’ll get on how to play the kite in the wind to keep it up.

If your child likes to run to launch the kite, she’ll also be learning about wind direction and speed–both important to aerodynamics.

2. Problem Solving

Kite flying doesn’t always go as planned! Sometimes the kites take a nosedive, the string tangles, or a little sibling comes over and pulls on the string.

When these problems occur, children must stop and assess the situation. Sometimes they need to ask for help. Other times, they can solve the problem themselves.

Problem solving is one of those soft skills that’s so important in life!

3. Concentration

With all the digital stimuli in the world today, kite flying offers a chance for children to concentrate on something real. There are no screens. Its just you, the kites, and the big blue sky.

Concentrating on keeping it flying will help your child extend his attention span. You can slowly increase the amount of time you’re out.

4. Self-Confidence

When my three-year-old got his in the air for the first time, he was thrilled! He quickly learned that he could do it, and didn’t want any help after that.

As your children fly a kite, they’re gaining confidence in their own abilities. It’s an amazing feeling to be in control of something way up in the air. And you feel like soaring right along with it!

5. Attention to Detail

When the kites get high in the air, tracking them takes more attention. As the wind switches direction, your child will have to make adjustments to keep it up.

While winding in the string, your child will have to watch to make sure no weeds snag the kite and make a hole in it.

All of these tasks require attention to detail and observation skills.

Let’s Go Fly Some Kites

Pick a day this spring, and go fly kites with your kids. You’ll all benefit from the exercise and fresh air, and you’ll also benefit in the five ways described above.

Next on our to-do list?

Making our own kites. I’m looking forward to it!

Do you and your family enjoy flying kites? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.

 

Have you ever turned your living room into a mock bowling alley for kids? It's easy, fun, and educational.

Benefits of Bowling in Your Living Room

Don’t worry, I’m not talking about actually turning your room into a bowling alley, or having your kids chuck heavy bowling balls towards your furniture. But, your kids can learn so much by setting up some cups and trying to knock them down with a ball.

How to Set Up a Pretend Bowling Lane

If you’re ready to give it a try, you’ll need to set up a bowling lane. Here’s what you need:

  • 10 plastic cups
  • 1 playground style ball (that has a bit of weight)

That’s it! Of course you can also get fancy and use masking tape to mark your lanes. But that’s definitely optional.

How to Bowl

Find a location in your living room that has some space. You may need to scoot some furniture aside. We just slide our coffee table over to one side of the room, leaving an empty path straight down the middle.

As one end of your space, set up your plastic cups bowling pin style:

Then, have your kids form a line at the other end. One at a time, they get the ball and bowl it down towards the cups. They get two chances to knock down as many cups as they can.

Now it’s time to reset the pins and let another person take a turn.

It keeps my kids busy for at least an hour! ๐Ÿ˜€

What Kids Learn in Your Homemade Bowling Alley

While they’re busy having a great time, your kids are learning and practicing many skills. Here’s a look at a few of them.

Math

Younger kids can practice counting to ten each time the pins are set. They’ll also practice seeing the pattern. Each row increases by 1.

So the first row has 1. The second 2. Then 3. And finally 4.

As the first ball knocks down pins, you get to practice subtraction too! How many pins are left? How many pins got knocked down?

Vocabulary

Pins. Bowling ball. Alley. Lane. Strike. Spare.

There are plenty of words associated with bowling. As your kids play, you can introduce new vocabulary words to them.

“Yay! You knocked down all the pins on your first ball. That’s a strike!”

(And if you have kids familiar with baseball, you can talk about how a baseball strike isn’t good but a bowling strike is good. Words can have more than one meaning!)

Taking Turns

It’s not always easy to take turn. Especially when there’s a ball involved. Kids get to practice this essential life skill when bowling in your living room.

Encouragement

Learning to offer encouraging words is important. Let your kids practice good sportsmanship and congratulate others on good turns, and share an encouraging word with someone who didn’t quite get it.

Physical Activity

Kids sit plenty today, especially when it’s muddy or cold outside. Having another active play game that’s perfect for indoor play will help get everyone up and moving. Here are some other active indoor ideas for you:

10 Variations of Hide and Seek

Active Indoor Games for Families

Sight Words Driving: An Active Reading Game

Have you ever bowled in your living room?

Did you kids love it as much as mine do? I’d love to hear about it!

Photo Credit: Daniel Alvarez Sanchez Diaz via Unsplash

Stacking rocks may be simple, but it's a powerful learning activity for kids. Here's how they benefit...

5 Ways Kids Benefit from Stacking Rocks

You don’t need fancy toys to engage your kids. They can play and learn with just about anything!

I walked to the waterfall with my husband and two of our kids recently. As my husband was taking pictures, my six-year-old was starting to grow restless. So I asked her to stack some rocks.

I figured she’d stack them once and then be done. But, she kept working on her creations. As she played, I realized there was some major learning going on!

Benefits of Stacking Rocks

Stacking rocks is simple. All you need are some rocks and a surface to stack them on. So head outside and let your kids gather up rocks. Then challenge them to stack them. They’ll be:

1. Learn about balance

You can’t just throw rocks on top of each other and expect them to stick. Rather, you must set them carefully, achieving balance.

As your child stacks, she’ll likely have to readjust, while learning:

  • Smaller rocks work best on top of bigger rocks
  • The flat side of angled rocks fits best on flat surfaces
  • Building is easier on a flat surface
  • You can increase balance by a change in placement

2. Improve observation skills

To figure out where each rock fits best, children must look at the rocks. As they look at the shape and size of each rock, they’re using the power of observation.

3. Connect with nature

Being outside benefits children in more ways than I can explain. Stacking rocks is an outside activity, and requires picking up rocks. It’s a very grounding experience!

Here’s my six-year-old with one of her rock stacks near the waterfall.

Ellie's stacking rocks!

4. Boost creativity

Stacking rocks might not seem all that enjoyable. But, when you sprinkle in a little creativity, it’s a game changer!

Your child can:

  • Try to build a house
  • Create the tallest tower of rocks possible
  • Use different surfaces as the starting point
  • Build a rock monster
  • Use two rocks at the bottom, like pillars, and build on top of that
  • Build blindfolded, relying on the sense of touch

Creative thinking is a soft skill that children will need in the future, so it’s important to inspire it now.

5. Build geology skills

Rocks are everywhere! What kind do you have in your area? You can talk to your child about some basic geology in your locale.

To let your child learn more, have her:

  • Sort the rocks before stacking
  • Look for patterns in rocks
  • Describe the color of each rock
  • Look for common speckles or other identifying features
  • Drop a rock and see if it fractures
  • Use one rock to scratch another to test hardness

In short, rock stacking is an easy, inexpensive way to build STEM skills!

Have you ever stacked rocks?

Rock stacking rocks! Give it a try if you haven’t! I’d love to hear about your experience, or see pictures of your stacks in the comments.

Photo credit: Deniz Altindas via Unsplash

Linking Up to the Hip Homeschool Hop!

Hip Homeschool Moms