All children need time for fun, but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn new skills and develop intellectually in the process. Our selection of activities is bound to provide both great enjoyment and brain-boosting stimulation.
WORDS REBECCA WONG
We all know that children learn through play but that doesn’t mean they need expensive toys. These four brain-building activities are sure to keep them entertained for hours on end.
Reading aloud to your child does wonders for his cognitive growth by sharpening language skills. “By four months of age, your baby may show an interest in handling books”, observe David Perlmutter and Carol Colman in Raise a Smarter Child by Kindergarten. “Encourage your child to grab the book and play with it. The baby who holds and smells a book will understand that books are an important part of life.” Look for books that help teach phonics, such as rhyming books. When reading picture books, point out and identify specific pictures – this enables your child to visualise an object or picture when he hears the corresponding word and is a significant developmental leap, explain Perlmutter and Colman.
Complete the Story
Your child will also have a blast predicting the ending of stories. “The richness of thought that accompanies predicting endings of stories mid-way through the story line strengthens observation and deductive reasoning skills,” explains Sarah Woon, educator and Atelier manager at Blue House Infant & Toddler Ateliers.
Work to create alternative endings as well – this stretches your child’s ability
to perceive situations in different ways.
Woon also suggests playing out these story lines together through dramatic play, using puppets, props and costumes. “This offers a chance to add depth to a fictional character as your child learns to empathise with the character in the story,” says Woon.
Fun Brain Games For Kids’ author Kim Maree recommends this entertaining game as a means of encouraging guesswork and imagination. Ideal for kids aged seven and up, charades can be carried out with four or more players. As kids love a little friendly competition, it may be a good idea to split them up into opposing teams. Come up with a few categories like animals, movie and book titles, or famous people and have each player write down on paper a word or short phrase pertaining to that category, says Maree. Place the papers in a small bowl, have each player pick from the bowl and act out the word, and watch as the laughter ensues!
Homemade Finger Painting
This involves a little DIY but is sure to keep your kid occupied for hours. In addition to being calming, finger painting also promotes a high level of concentration and creativity, says Susan Kettmann in The 2,000 Best Games and Activities: Using Play to Teach Curiosity, Self-Control, Kindness and Other Essential Life Skills. Kettmann suggests a finger paint recipe of half a cup of cornstarch, ice cold water, and food colouring. Mix the cornstarch with four cups of cold water, bring the mixture to a boil and then stir it until it thickens. When it cools, pour the concoction into jars, add food colouring and mix accordingly. Let your child mix the colours with his fingers, creating various patterns and shapes, instructs Kettmann. Introduce one new colour at a time so he can discover new colours.
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