During the year your child has learnt many important skills. School holidays are a great time to relax and have fun, but it can also be enough time for this important learning to be forgotten. To avoid this we have compiled a list of suggested activities, games and excursions to keep your child thinking during the holidays. You can use these ideas anytime as they are fun and help your child practice the wonderful skills they have worked so hard to learn. The activities suggested here provide fun and learning opportunities for any school age child, Enjoy!
Fine Motor Skills & Handwriting – fostering nimble fingers and correct pencil grip and control
- Play tennis with a balloon.
- Throw and catch bean bags.
- Play Simon Says (touch your head, hop on one foot).
- Use play dough – squeezing, poking, rolling, pinching, twisting, finding coins hidden inside (Google “play dough reciples” for a huge variety of ingredient choices)
- Thread beads or macaroni on pipe cleaners or string – use tweezers to hold beads to make this task more challenging.
- Finger Painting (messy, but great fun).
- Dot-to-Dot drawings or mazes.
- Fold paper to make paper aeroplanes.
- Colouring in (triangular pencils are great for this, Crayola & Faber Castell are just two companies whose triangular pencils are readily available commercially).
- Any fine motor craft activity (making models, gluing, cutting).
- Play games – Marbles, Tricky Fingers, Pick Up Sticks (Fiddle Sticks), Operation, Card Games.
- Cooking – mixing, rolling, measuring.
- Build models with LEGO® and Blocks.
A favourite Play Dough recipe
2 cups of plain flour
4 tablespoons of ‘cream of tartar’
2 tablespoons of cooking oil
1 cup of cooking salt
2 cups of boiling water
Oral Language (Talking & Listening) – encouraging children to speak clearly so words and meaning can be understood
- Recount a day out with details of When, Who, Where and What.
- Ask your child questions if the meaning of what they’ve said is unclear.
- Games (these are great for the car) – Shopping List (I went shopping and bought bread – milk – sugar and the child has to remember what has been said before), I Spy (modify by giving clues about what the item looks like and what you do with it rather than just saying the sound it starts with), Guess Who, Celebrity Heads, Charades.
- Barrier Games (place a barrier between you and your child and they must use language to make sure both sides of the barrier are the same). For example your child draws a simple picture and then tells you how to make the same picture – you could also use block towers or bead patters to describe.
- Play games where your child has to listen to directions or answer questions.
- Oral sequencing activities – ask your child to order the steps needed to complete a routine activity such as bath time, getting dressed, a shopping trip, cleaning or cooking.
- Pick an interesting book (fact or fiction) and read to your child every day – show by example, a love of reading.
- Read purposeful texts with your child (train timetables, movie guides, holiday brochures, recipes).
- Encourage a short 10-minute reading time every day to sit and read with your child.
- Revise sight words in a fun way – write them on cards and play games with them – memory, fish, snap, bingo, old maid and rummy (you need 2 sets of each word to play!)
- Visit the local library to help your child find a type of book they enjoy.
- Keep a holiday journal once a week (or more if you can manage it) with details of When, Who, Where and What. Have your child draft it on scrap paper and then present it in a project book or type it on a computer. Add souvenirs of the day (movie tickets, photos, trinkets) to assist your child in telling their holiday stories next year when they go to school.
- Write a joke book with your child. Tell jokes to each other and write them down.
- Make a recipe book. Cook with your child, talk about the recipes and put them in a book with your child.
- Write postcards to family and friends.
- For those children with a wild imagination this is the time to write stories, long glorious stories because there’s no bell for lunch to disrupt the flow of writing.
- Play board games such as Scrabble (you can purchase modified versions for young children) and Up Words.
- Play Scategories and Hangman with your children – the whole family can enjoy this too.
Mathematics – Basic Number Facts
- All children would benefit from revising times tables – listen to the song in the car, play card games with the times tables written on cards (question on one card, answer on the other).
- Practice basic maths facts using board games. All you need is a blank board game, die, counters and a 12-sided spinner (or number cards or die).
- Use cards and dice lying around the house to play maths games. Simply flip two cards or roll two dice and add, subtract or multiple the numbers. The answer can be used to move around a game board or score points for the highest or lowest answer. These games can be made more challenging by increasing the number of cards or dice
- thrown at any one time.
- Board Games – Snakes & Ladders, Dominoes – basically anything involving counting dice and moving spaces is another opportunity for your child to practice their basic maths facts.
- Design your own games. Children enjoy being creative and can design their own board, materials and rules – lots of skills are practiced with this fun activity.
Go Outside – Explore – Get Dirty
Below are some great websites and iDevice applications detailing school holiday activities across all areas of Sydney. All of the hard work has been done for you, all you have to do is choose where to go!
Go Play – your school holiday calendar This free app, designed by Powerhouse Museum available for Apple devices (iPhone, iPad) provides a list of school holiday art, cultural, sport and recreational activities for children and teenagers. You can search by day, age, venue and facilities. “Go Play” is a wonderful source of information to find new and exciting day trips to enjoy with your children.
Sydney Olypmic Park – Kids on the Park On this website you will find an extensive range of free and fee-based recreational, sport and adventure activities you can involve your children in. The program for the upcoming July school holidays can be found @ www.sydneyolypmicpark.com.au
Kidspot – School Holiday Ideas The team at kidspot have made easy work out of finding interesting free and fee-based activities for the July school holidays. You can take your children to the Rocks to watch rock candy being produced, to the Chinese Garden of Friendship for daily fish feeding, to Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre for a range of art and science activities or to Brassiere Bread for free cooking classes. Visit www.kidspot.com.au for these details and many many more holiday activities.
iPad Apps for Children and Adolescents with Dyslexia and Dyscalculia
A catalogue of 195 iPad apps reviewed and recommended to assist children and adolescents with learning difficulties including dyslexia and dyscalculia is now available at Learning Links. These apps, categorized under three broad headings: (a) General Learning, (b) Literacy, and (c) Numeracy can be used at home and school settings to complement existing learning programs and provide engaging games-based practice. You can purchase a copy of this catalogue for $10, available in either print or electronic form. Please enquire at the front desk for your copy.
By Dr Samantha Hornery