With more families now doing school at home, there are many opportunities to incorporate play into learning in a semi-structured setting. Here are a few general things to keep in mind with any creative learning project to help things go smoothly and to help kids focus. If you would like five big tips about doing school from home, visit our big five blog post.
Set realistic expectations ahead of time - Go over the assignment with your child and make it clear what the goal is before you begin so there is no confusion and they can be as independent as possible in their creative learning. This may mean giving an example of how to do something if they have not done it before and practicing together before they do it alone. Follow the "I do, we do, you do" model.
Have all your tools in one place - Make sure to get out all supplies needed for the entire project and have them accessible for your child to use independently. If you would like more tips about how to make messy play stree-free, check out our messy play blog!
Set the environment for learning - Pay attention to the atmosphere of your learning environment. Give your child a clear space to work, use as much natural light as possible, and play calming music to inspire and encourage your child to lose themselves in the world of learning through play.
Map Making Activity
Map Making is used in Social Studies, Geography, and is a great learning activity that can be tailored to what your child is learning about. The great thing about using your Waytoplay roads is that they not only provide a stencil to help your child create their map even if they do not have advanced drawing skills, you also naturally incorporate play into the project that and will really help their map come to life. Using your roads on the map allows them to seamlessly go back and forth between imagining, creating, and playing with their creation in a cycle of natural learning. Here are a few simple steps to help guide your child in this interactive map making project:
Decide what kind of map you will be making
- Your neighborhood
- A area in town you visit often with favorite shops or restaurants
- An imaginary town where they get to build a small world of their own and put whatever they want on the map
- A map based on a book that you read to them where they are recreating the location of a story
Have them set up and trace their town using the Waytoplay roads on top of a large strip of paper or poster board.
If you do not have large paper you can also tape smaller pieces together and even do so in a way that is easy to fold later for easy storage and to keep working on at a later time. You could also recycle a cardboard box that has been flattened for a more durable option. Make sure to secure the paper to the table or floor with tape so it does not move while the map is being made.
Encourage your child to slowly start to draw other things on the map as they play and imagine
This is one of the times it may be good to think aloud with them and give a few ideas to get them going. Get excited about their ideas, and ask questions to spark new possibilities! If your child has a hard time drawing freehand, consider letting them trace not only the roads, but trace blocks that make up their buildings and even animals or people that they use in their play. Let them do as much of the drawing themselves as possible so they have ownership and pride in their project.
Let them take their time and have fun!
This is the kind of project that could be worked on for multiple days to add more details. An extra idea for a more in-depth project would be to use the map they create to help them write a story about what happens in their small world. This would be a great activity to do together where they tell you what is happening while they drive around on the roads and you write down the words to read back to them as they act out the story through playing on their map! If you have made a map based on a story that has already been written, this is a great time to read-aloud the book to them as they play and get in some interactive read-aloud time!
If you would like more creative ideas about how to use your roads in learning at home, visit our Pinterest page where you can find all kinds of ideas to spark imaginative play!
Enjoy the journey, Sarah