As a teacher-mom, I live for the summers! The weather is beautiful, the days are longer, and the pace is slower. But the kids are home, and we need to keep the learning alive to avoid that summer slide. I still need to keep my teacher-hat on while managing two parenting resource websites and keeping my kids entertained and engaged in learning.
Any working mom can tell you that it’s a near-impossible task. It’s hard to block off time to explore Westchester County and learn with my children while still making myself available to take calls, respond to emails, and everything else my job entails.
Luckily, Vivvi is reinventing childcare for today’s families with their in-home childcare program. Their goal is to create wonderful memories for young learners as they grow and develop from infants to young children. With a little ingenuity and planning, this summer can be transformed into a time for continuing to build a strong learning foundation to stretch your child’s mind in preparation for the later years.
Here are some ways to keep the learning alive this summer!
Sensory Play (Infants & Toddlers) is sometimes referred to as a calming activity. Sensory experiences are widely beneficial for babies. Engaging in this type of activity promotes scientific thinking as your child builds a foundational understanding of the scientific concept of cause and effect. They also manipulate objects to develop fine motor skills and improve their focus and concentration.
Water Play: Provides hours of rich and valuable early childhood experiences to develop children’s creativity and imagination. Grab a bin, fill it with water, add some bubbles, floating and sinking bath toys, and cups or small containers. As kids pour, scoop, squirt, and stir, they also develop early communication, language, and problem-solving skills.
Food Coloring/Ice Cube Exploration: This simple activity takes zero time (in fact, it might give parents back time). Fill an ice cube tray with water and add your favorite shades of food coloring. Let the water freeze into colorful cubes and let the fun begin. Aside from the immediate touch and temperature experience, it also supports an engaging outlet for open-ended play and exploration.
Sensory Bags: Always great to have on hand for everyday play as they can help little ones develop their sense of touch, fine motor skills, language skills, and cognitive skills. Grab a Ziploc reclosable bag, child-safe paint or food coloring, some shaving cream, and some painter’s tape for extra sealant, and you’ve got your go-to activity “in the bag.”
Mathematical Discovery is the exploration of shapes that helps your baby begin to gain shape discrimination, eye-hand coordination, visual perception, and problem-solving skills.
Shape Boards (Infants): Provide infants with endless opportunities for focus and concentration as they help your baby with eye-hand coordination, visual perception, problem-solving, and shape discrimination skills. Just take a piece of cardboard and put a circle-shaped felt on the cardboard with velcro backing for exploration. Let your child lead and observe what they are focused on or trying to do and then respond to their intent and interest. When interest begins to fade, share a book with them about shapes.
Artists at Work: Finding engaging and safe art experiences for babies can sometimes be a daunting task since children of this age are known to put things in their mouths. Fortunately, there is a way that babies can experience artistic endeavors safely without fear of eating something not suitable for them.
Edible Paint (Infants): Give your child the experience of being a boundless artist. You can put the edible paint in the containers with a piece of paper, cardboard, or plate for the painting surface, or structure the activity a little more by displaying the edible finger paint on a paint palette made from a paper plate. Then let the creative process begin with a paintbrush or their fingers.
If you are worried about the mess, you can put your child in their high chair or move this activity to the bathtub. When your child is finished, use a wet cloth to wipe down the high chair or bathtub and then get your child squeaky clean too.
What You Need
- Food coloring
- 2 cups flour
- Warm water
- Cold water
What to Do: Scoop 2 cups of flour into a big bowl. Add cold water mixed with drops of food coloring and stir until you make a paste with no lumps. Add warm water a little at a time and stir until you get the desired consistency.
Let’s Make Music! Early in life, children start to identify rhythm and even move to the beats. Just like adults, it touches their souls! Here is an activity for your baby to perk up their listening skills: a necessary component to music appreciation
Sound Play: Find some plastic bottles or small containers that your baby can hold and one or more of the following: cheerios, rice, pasta, beans, couscous. Put one of the items in each container and secure the lid. Isn’t it amazing how you can convert household items into learning experiences for your baby?
Scientific Exploration (Toddler & Preschool): Young children are natural scientists with a ferocious curiosity about the world around them. Scientific activities help to ignite their curiosity as they develop key life skills such as higher-level thinking, focus and concentration, and mathematical reasoning. Here are some ways to facilitate scientific thinking.
DIY Light Catchers: This creative scientific project doubles as a work of art to hang up for the entire summer and helps your child become aware of the properties of light, as well as fine motor development, following directions, and extending their attention span. Gather your used plastic lids (from old yogurt/hummus containers), pour lots of white glue with watercolors or food coloring, stir swirly designs and let dry. Punch a hole in it and use something to hang, and begin catching the light!
Multi-Color Balloon Baths: Such a fun way for your child to take their bathtime to the next level as they learn about colors, number sense, and the concept of sink and float in the calming water. Fill three balloons of different colors, fill up the bathtub and let the fun begin!
I Spy Observer Game: Provide children with an exploration of their five senses and observation skills as they focus and concentrate on the task at hand. Here is how to play the game: I Spy Game Parent Tutorial. There are endless possibilities for playing this game, including exploring textures, colors, or shapes. If you run out of ideas, your child might have some ideas of their own!
Icy Fun: Keep your child engaged as they use their fine motor and observation skills. You need a container, a cup of water and some found small objects to put in the water. Since the water will expand as it freezes, leave some space in the top of the container before you freeze overnight. Then give your child a selection of “tools” such as a spoon or toy hammer to help dissolve the ice and discover the treasures.
Like adults, children need to develop strategies for managing their emotions to build social-emotional skills. When children learn how to be more emotionally aware now, later in life, they can more effectively maintain loving relationships and self-regulate when challenges arise. But unlike most adults, it can be difficult for children to understand their emotions without adult support. The process of calming down when upset and using words to describe feelings requires a lot of practice.
Expressing Emotions with a Book: This Caldecott Medalist book can help your child learn to express and identify their feelings appropriately. Go Away Big Green Monster, published more than 25 years ago, helps children express their fears with humor. It’s hard to get this book these days, so here is a video you can use to introduce your child to the book. The first time you read this book, encourage your child to chime in on the “you don’t scare me” pages. Then you can reread it, and as you read the book, use “I’m wondering” questions to encourage your child’s participation in the reading. Questions like – “Look at those teeth. I’m wondering how those teeth feel. Sharp?
To extend this activity, find a paper plate, markers, and decorative embellishments( cotton balls, yarn, pipe cleaners) and glue and make some “monster” faces.
Cook With A Book: Although cooking with young children is sometimes a messy affair. It is a wonderful activity to do with your child for taking advantage of hands-on learning. When cooking is integrated with a literary experience, the learning multiplies.”The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle is the perfect book for providing your child with the experience of creating a dish with fruit. After reading the book, take fruits your child enjoys and, if desired, granola, honey or agave, and yogurt. Talk about the shape, color, size, and how many fruits you will use in your recipe with each fruit. Then get to work creating your yummy fruit salad. For a hot summer day, have your child mashup soft fruit like berries and bananas and freeze for a few hours with granola in a muffin pan.
To develop music appreciation use fingerplays and songs in early childhood is a great way to help young children learn a new language, gain large and small motor skills and support memory and practice the attributes of sequencing needed for reading comprehension.
Fingerplays: The perfect engaging activity to interact with your child while they learn. Some might be familiar to you, and others will help you add to your expertise as a child entertainer!
Art experiences provide young children with multiple benefits for learning in all domains. Of course, art is important for its own sake–as a source of beauty and expression. For young learners, it is best to give them opportunities to explore and experiment with materials that allow for open expression. What is important is the step-by-step process they experience, not the end product.
Painting With Water: So simple to set up yet such a rewarding experience for your child. Just gather a bowl of plain water and colored construction paper. Using paintbrushes of sponges, your child’s creativity will be sparked.
Vivvi offers so many fun and engaging ways to keep the learning alive this summer. They make it easy for your family to experience the team’s incredible learning model in the comfort and safety of your home!
Just name your needs, and Vivvi will find the perfect match for you. Vivvi educators are well-versed in childcare. In addition to providing everything a nanny would, there’s the bonus of each team member having true early childhood education skills, plus curriculum guidance, training, and support from Vivvi.