5 ways to keep the kids learning over the holidays

 5 ways to keep the kids learning over the holidays parenting school holidays boredom buster activities

5 ways to keep the kids learning over the holidays

So the school holidays are fast approaching and you’re asking yourself how to keep the kids’ brains active and keep them learning over the hols.

Here are 5 tried and tested ways to do just that:

Let them get bored!

Yes, ditch the structure and don’t plan anything.  Let them get bored occasionally and I’ll bet that their imaginations will start doing the work to keep their brains active the scenes!  While we certainly son’t be banning electronics, turning them off and letting our 8yo ‘be’ will be quite a regular occurrence this Summer.

 

That said, boredom busters definitely have their place…

We all know those days when bedtime can’t come fast enough (ours not necessarily theirs!).  So keep a few easy ideas up your sleeve for the “I’m boooored” moments.  Check the local activities for the summer.  Many school children receive a kind of activites directory and many of the sessions are drop-ins.  Meaning happy kids and peace and quiet for you… for now.

 

Give them a challenge

From riding a bike to swimming, from reading to tying their shoe laces; being active doesn’t have to mean be physical activity all the time.  Maybe they could learn to do some of these challenges, giving them a sense of achievement, building confidence and keeping their brain switched on.

 

Get them up!

I’m all for lazy mornings in the hols (trust me!) but there are times that the sleeping until lunchtime habit needs to be broken for older children.  So give the older children jobs to do with the condition that they’re done in the morning, and maybe even pay them or give them a non-monetary incentive.  It’s a really good idea to do this in the last week or so before ‘back to school’ because it gets them used to the idea of getting up and getting going after a long break, and also gets them tired if they’re up ‘early’!

 

Have a tidy up

This works well for younger children.  A good tidy up reveals long-forgotten toys that refresh the imagination and gives you some breathing space in a less cluttered living space.  And what do you do with all those toys, you all get out of the 4 walls and take them to the charity shop!

5 ways to keep the kids learning over the holidays parenting school holidays boredom buster activities

 

I asked some other bloggers for their thoughts and here are some of their fantastic suggestions:

Jen from Just Average Jen says: My son has always loved to make his own newspaper or guidebook full of things he has found out or enjoyed. He then sells it to people like Grandma and gets extra money to spend!

 

I love this idea and will definitely be using it, from Victoria at Lylia Rose: My daughter loves the learning workbooks they sell in our local office supplies store. They are for each key state and they have spelling and maths books. She has a word search one at the moment which she finds fun, but it’s aimed at helping with spellings. They’re only a couple of pounds each and she thinks they’re something fun rather than ‘work’!

 

Rebecca from You Me Raising 3 suggests: Limit screen time as I find this can reduce their motivation to get outside and explore. My kids love experimenting and making things so anything science based is a hit! Ice eggs with dinosaurs in for them to dig out is one activity we will try. wipe clean books to practice letters and numbers are also great (preschool age), taking them out on walks to explore nature and recording what we find.

 

Finally, Kelly from School Run Shop says let them be: Let them explore – nature, their surroundings, new places. There’s no better learning than letting them just ‘be’.

What would you add?  I’d love to know!  Comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere .

Thanks.

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A new chapter in our reading journey

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A new chapter in our reading journey

Just last week, we returned some books to the local library (mine and our 8yos).  I love visiting the library with her.  I always have.  It literally opens up a whole world of imagination.

On this visit though, she said she was running out of books to read.  She’s read all the Rainbow Magic books, all the Harry Potter books and various other series.  So, we asked the nice man behind the desk what level would be suitable for a fluent nearly 9 year old to read.  And we were shown the Teenage Junior (TJ) shelf while being told to leave the Teenage Advanced (TA) section for now.  I could almost feel our daughter’s disappointment as she looked at the 4 shelves of the TJ section.  Not many books there when you’re used to browsing through what seems like a whole world of imagination.  Still, we can order books in from other branches and I’m sure they’ll have some sort of reading challenge to keep her going through the summer.

A New Chapter in our Reading Journey

Magical memories as we enter a new phase

While she browsed, I sat on the little toddler seat next to the board books and had a little think to myself.  The days of reading out loud to her, the same books over and over and over again came to me.  The days of her sounding out her first school books, learning phonics and learning to blend the sounds.  Magical memories.

We still have a bedtime story and I’ve recently got the reading bug again and started reading actual books again – partly for my own relaxation but partly to encourage her to continue.  With all the distractions in our childrens’ lives, reading can easily be put on the back-burner.  So at bedtime, because she now reads chapter books with few (if any) pictures or drawings, we only read a couple of pages.  Her school has a 20 minutes a day reading challenge.  She easily manages this because she reads at breakfast too but we incorporate into her bedtime routine, which I love and so does she.  So after I’ve read 2 pages and kissed her goodnight (on her still oh-so-soft cheek) and showered her with a hundred kisses all over her beautiful face, I give her 20 minutes.  She often uses this time to read to her teddies and role play.  She clearly needs this little bit of time to process the day.  Long may it continue.

Times to cherish

Then we often have the panic of her losing her unicorn bookmark among her duvet and the handful mountain of teddies.  It’s the one she cut out from a template in a magazine.  There are 2 others but it has to be the unicorn one.  Eventually, all is still and I often pop up to our room for something and can hear her little voice being narrator.  It’s these times, after a busy day, that I cherish and I never want to end.  But I know they will.

Until they end, I’ll continue to indulge us both in a quick read and then let her enter her own world with her teddies, the characters from the book and feed her imagination as she slowly drifts off to her dreams for the night, wherever they may take her.

Has your child run out of reading material?  Do you use your local library?  I’d love to kmow!  Comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere .

Thanks.

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Ideas to keep your kids reading over Summer

Ideas To Keep Kids Reading Over Summer Parenting Boredom Buster Activity

Ideas to keep your kids reading over Summer

When I was at school (all that time ago!), I remember when I went back after the long Summer holidays and it felt really odd to write again!  And this was waaay before we all had phones glued to ourselves and were texting all the time.  We generally had no need to write.  It’s the same with reading isn’t it?  It’s easy for our children to get out of the habit of reading over the summer break – no ‘carpet time’, no reading buddy to read to, no guided reading, no excitement of choosing a book from the library, no reading record to update…

oh wait!

We can do all of these things out of the school environment and maybe, just maybe make it even more fun than it is in school!  You should know that I’m passionate about literacy in our children and firmly believe in the building blocks it gives them in all areas of their learning.  But I’m always open to suggestions and I asked some fellow bloggers for their ideas on keeping kids reading over Summer.  Some of them I had already thought of (great minds think alike eh?):

Ideas To Keep Kids Reading Over Summer Parenting Boredom Buster Activity

Make your own books

Karen from The Mini Malpi says: How about making their own books?  My son has always enjoyed doing this and, now he’s started to learn to read and write, he could add his own words.

I’ve got fond memories of our now 8yo doing just that and I’ve still got them tucked away in ‘memory corner’!

 

Engagement is key

Claire from This Mummy Rocks suggests getting your child to choose their favourite book:  Use Pinterest to find engaging activities to link with the book or relating topics. Keep referring back to the book and re-read. Bring the book to life.

And let’s face it, there are so many ways to do this.  We just need a little extra inspiration by way of Pinterest as Claire says!

 

Make it personal

Emma at The Family Hub says that personalised books can be great for engaging little ones so much fun to be part of the story!

 

Make it fun!

Carla-Marie from Bump2Baby suggests making the book buying process fun: let them choose and have an hour no electrics – reading time only!!

 

Contact the author

This is one of my favourites and something I’d never have thought of.  Adam from You’ve Got All This To Come says: Get in touch with the authors on Twitter- ask a question or leave a comment, they’re usually willing to reply!

 

If all else fails…

And THIS from Jess at Tantrums to Smiles says: A reading den! Both my kids love a good den so sometimes I will set up a reading den in a shady bit of the garden. It can be as simple as a sheet over two chairs with a few books inside a jug of cool icy squash and a few biscuits. We have a lovely time reading together, enjoying a cold drink and getting out of the sun for a bit!

Our daughter has a little den in her bedroom which she chooses a book from for bedtime reading but i’m going to do this in the garden too.  Book, biscuits and bonding time.  Bliss!

It’s similar to Sarah’s idea from Digital Motherhood: Go to the library and let them pick as many books as they like. When you get home sit down with a drink and a snack and look at the books together.

Have you got any more ideas?  I’d love to hear!  Comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere .

Thanks.

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How a group activity can grow your child’s confidence ~ #IfShesHappyImHappy

How A Group Activity Can Grow Your Child's Confidence #IfShesHappyImHappy It's About You Being Happy, Making Your Child Happy, It Coming Full Circle Making You Happy!

How a group activity can grow your child’s confidence

I recently introduced a regular feature #IfShesHappyImHappy and this week I’m talking about a group activity that our daughter enjoys and has helped to build her confidence.  #IfShesHappyImHappy is all about the cycle of happiness – you being happy, making your child happy and it coming full circle to make you happy again!  You can read it here if you missed it.

How A Group Activity Can Grow Your Child's Confidence #IfShesHappyImHappy It's About You Being Happy, Making Your Child Happy, It Coming Full Circle Making You Happy!

Expressing themselves

Our daughter’s 7 and typically, she loves to dance and sing.  Very soon I’m sure she’ll be singing into a hairbrush.

For now, she loves to express herself by dancing and singing.  And so when she got a place in the cheerleading club at her school, I was really pleased.  She’d been asking to go, to join in with her friend.  And she loves it!

I even found some cheerleading pompoms in Poundland.  Of course, her eyes lit up when she saw them and off she went.

Age range

What I love about her little cheerleading group is that not everyone’s her age.  The group of around 15 range from 6-11 years old I think.

There’s a boy from her class who joins in just as eagerly as the rest, and she’s always shattered afterwards so the teacher is clearly getting  a lot from them!

And it’s turned into a family affair.  Oh yes, one rainy Saturday, we were all up on our feet waving pom-poms around and strutting our stuff to the cheerleading moves!  I was shattered, I can tell you…

Seeing their confidence grow

A few weeks ago, they did a little performance for us which was lovely to see.  As with anything, we’ve been building her confidence by using encouraging words, by telling her well done and by playing music in the house which she generally sings and dances to.  Her confidence has been growing and growing.  It was great to see her performing to the songs with her friends.

Whichever way you look at it, this group activity is good for our daughter and though it doesn’t need to be cheerleading, an activity like this could be good for your child too…

And #IfShesHappyImHappy

  What group activities does/did your child do that helped their confidence grow?   Please share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me @AllSortsHere

Thanks.

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Creating with a mosaic jewellery making kit ~ #BoredomBuster

making-with-mosaic-jewellery-pin-making-kit-boredom-buster-rainy-day-activity-kids-parenting
Show a little girl a jewellery-making kit and I’ll bet they’ll happily ‘make’ for hours.  (and little boys too, come to that!)  Our daughter loves making and using her imagination, like when she made pencil toppers and a Hello Kitty picture.  She gets absorbed into craft activities and it’s lovely to see.
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Predictably, that’s what happened with this mosaic jewellery-making kit that our little girl was given as a present.
She was making her own mosaic patterns for ages.
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First, she started off copying the patterns from the box, then her creative side kicked in!
making-with-mosaic-jewellery-making-kit-boredom-buster-rainy-day-activity-kids-parenting-2
It’s a great little kit, as long as you organise yourself by:
  • preparing the mixture and allowing a good 2 days for it to set within the jewellery mould.  (although atmosphere and environment have a lot to do with this!)
  • preparing yourself to break off what seems like millions of tiny little mosaic squares from the frames.  It’s not millions at all I’m sure, but just be prepared because it feels like it!
Once you’ve got the prep out of the way, you can kick back and watch your little one creating to their heart’s content!  You really can, because (depending on their age), minimal supervision is required, just appropriate encouraging comments through out the  process!  Which, of course, I gave without hesitation!
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And here’s the (rather blurry) mosaic creation that she was very proud of… 🙂
making-with-mosaic-jewellery-making-kit-boredom-buster-rainy-day-activity-kids-parenting

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Have you ever made jewellery or something similar to this?  I’d love to hear!  Please comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere

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Why lego is good for imaginative play

lego-pin1-imaginative-play-role-play-kids-parenting-boredombuster-build-make-create-do

Our daughter loves lego!

And I can see why because I used to love lego too.  I never had any ‘fancy’ construction kits.  Just the standard pieces.  You know, in a variety of sizes and colours.

My favourite thing to do was to build schools and out of the remaining pieces, I would make families!  Our girl likes to role play schools too, not to mention when she got into the lego trading card craze!  I’ve got seriously happy memories of playing schools though, and whiled away many a happy hour in my lego world!

Our daughter does the same and it’s wonderful to see her imagination at work.  Lego is such an interesting concept isn’t it?  It can literally grow with your child:- from the chunky lego babies use to hone their fine motor skills, to the ‘themed’ packs which come with a picture of a princess castle or a car garage on the front.  To the packs which are literally just the bricks and basically tell our children to ‘get on with it’.  And they do!

They construct stairs and towers and robots and houses.

And gardens…

The imagination knows no bounds and lego is a great way to feed this.

There are still occasions when our little girl will ask me to play lego with her.  I get down on the floor with her and let my imagination take me where it chooses to go.  Whether that’s back to school by way of role play or simply by building a tower.

Lego can be very relaxing and therapeutic… until you stand on a piece!

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Have you got fond lego memories?  Do you play lego with your child?  What’s the best thing you’ve made?  I’d love to hear!  Please comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere

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How to adapt learning to the changing seasons ~ #BoredomBuster

As the seasons change, it can be quite difficult to get our daughter outside.  The lure of the kitchen table to do seasonal crafts, the lure of the screens, the lure of the snuggles on the sofa!  And why not?  All of these are great ways to spend your time.

But here at VirtuallyAllSorts, we’ve been adapting our learning to the seasons!

easel-outside-pin-learning-outdoors-literacy-numeracy-maths-fun-learning-copy

At the present time, our daughter loves role playing (among other things), particularly schools.

Since moving house, we haven’t had the chance to do much to pretty up our garden.  It’s quite a small garden but it has potential.

Potential for exploring, for using imagination, for building insect hotels!

Due to its size, we do have to think outside the box.

It’s all concrete and there’s no room for a swing.  Despite this, we have prettied part of it up successfully by painting a wall all different colours.

When our girl says she wants to play in the garden, she often says she’s bored out there.  So despite the obvious change of seasons, we recently popped her easel outside.  She can think outside of the box and so can we!

It’s perfect for her to role play her schools, as you can see.  All she needed was her coat and she was happy as anything for ages 🙂

easel-outside-learning-outdoors-literacy-numeracy-maths-fun-learning

And a happy little girl makes for happy parents!

 

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What do you do to think outside of the box when it comes to space – inside and out?  Have you got any other suggestions for a boredom buster?  I’d love to hear!  Please comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere

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How to make pencil toppers ~ #BoredomBuster activity

When our little girl was given a ‘Go Create’ animal puppets craft activity pack, she couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

The picture on the outside was for puppet but imagination knows no bounds with our daughter and she often thinks outside the box.

She set-to, asking for gloopy glue (eeek!).  When I offered to help with the glue, I was shunned!

how-to-pencil-toppers-1-rainy-day-activity-boredom-buster-create-imagination-parenting-kids

I don’t mind mess, in fact I love when we get the crafting paraphernalia out but ‘gloopy’ glue…  Would pritt stick do? NO, it had to be the messy version.  The one that always dries round the nozzle between sessions, is a nightmare to de-clog before a new session can start and takes ages to dry!

how to make pencil toppers rainy day activity parenting kids make create do imagination

Despite my trepidation, I did as I was told and kept out of the way.

The end results were ‘pencil toppers’ and they’re not too shabby!

how-to-pencil-toppers-1-rainy-day-activity-boredom-buster-create-imagination-parenting-kids

So, readers, that is how you come to make pencil toppers! 🙂
What do you think?  Do you fancy having a go yourself?  Have you made anything similar?  I’d love to hear!  Please comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere

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All that glitters ~ a boredom buster activity

boredom-buster-tick-tate-modern-creation-imagination-glitter-sequins-making-creating-parenting-rainy-day-activities-boredom-busters

As with the average household with children, it’s not uncommon to come across a creation by our little girl, you might call it a boredom buster activity.  But the twist here is that she hadn’t actually uttered the words, “I’m boooored!”…

The creation can be anything from a Hello Kitty collage, to a present for Father Christmas or an insect hotel!

There are no limits to our daughter’s imagination it seems.  So when I was politely summonsed to see her latest Tate Modern-inspired offering, this is what I saw.

insert-pic-boredom-buster-tick-tate-modern-creation-imagination-glitter-sequins-making-creating-parenting-rainy-day-activities-boredom-busters

This is the cushion on top of a footstool, in case you were wondering…

 

I was reluctant to clear it up to be honest.  When the light caught the sequins, it was so pretty (the picture really doesn’t do it justice!)

I feel sure that very soon our daughter will be able to open her own art gallery.  And when she does, entry is bound to be by donation to her choice of animal charity and/or to give a seagull a bed!

Joking aside, hubby and I are both passionate about giving our little girl the space (physically and mentally) that she needs to express herself.  Be it by writing or art creations 🙂

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How about your child?  Do they like creating?  Perhaps they could collaborate with our little girl?! 😉  I’d love to hear about it!  Please comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere

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How to make the ‘purrfect’ Hello Kitty creation!

 How to make hello kitty kids activities crafts imagination create boredom buster

 

When we moved house, our little girl personalised her new bedroom which included putting her own special touch to her bedroom door.

We encouraged it at our old house and are doing the same at our new house.

It all helped to settle her into her new surroundings and made the transition of a house move smoother.

As is often the case, she busied herself one day with her crafts.  They are all stashed under her desk for ease of access.

She has always had ready access to all things pens, pencils, paper, craftiness and this has shown in her phonics and literacy.

So she busied herself one day and the end result was this lovely Hello Kitty picture.  I love how she’s included texture for the whiskers.

how-to-make-hello-kitty-kids-activities-crafts-imagination-create-boredom-buster

Just purrfect! 😉

What do you think?  How do you encourage your child to be crafty and use their imagination?  I’d love to hear!  Please comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere

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