PLAY SCHOOL ‘Pump-Up’ – Enhance the Creative Mind

 Young children just love to ‘play school’. This timeless and creative activity provides an excellent opportunity for children to reinforce and extend their skills in reading, math, story writing, and science while having fun.

Our young play school enthusiasts will want to have the same teaching tools to play with as their teachers use in the classroom. Parents are encouraged to provide a selection of school supplies including pencils, crayons, markers, paper, scissors, glue, and craft materials for hours of learning fun.  Don’t forget an inexpensive calculator or two, and of course, chalk and a chalkboard! Garage sales are a great source for inexpensive resources – educational games, story books, puzzles, paper, crafty activities, and manipulative materials for counting and sorting.    A real find would be a set of Golden Book Junior Encyclopaedia which are colourful, easy to read, and include a collection of interesting information covering everything in your child’s world.

To encourage strong academic skill reinforcement, visit local educational or book stores and pick up a selection of workbooks in phonics, math, grammar, and reading comprehension to have available in your child’s play school area. Invite your child to help choose the workbooks. A good rule of thumb is to pick materials at their comfort level or at their previous grade level.  If your child is really keen, you may also wish to purchase workbooks at the next grade level.

Puppet shows are a great source of creative fun for all children.  A theatre can be constructed from a recycled cardboard box, and your child’s imagination will soar as he/she decorates it with scraps of fabric for the curtains, and creates puppets from old socks, buttons, wool, ribbons, and glue.  As with all great theatre, the audience is very important.  If invited, be sure to attend the performance and remember to provide your child with positive and supportive comments which will help encourage and further extend their ideas for the next show.

Science exploration is usually overlooked. Why not put together a science tool box, complete with a magnifying glass, tweezers, small containers, and even an old microscope if you can find one. You could include a starter collection of local rocks and pebbles, flower petals, a bug, and a variety of seeds from either the garden or spice seeds from the kitchen. For another fun activity, take the bottom out of an old shoe box and have your child place this cardboard frame on a patch of ground, sidewalk, or garden and, with a magnifying glass, observe the activity in the miniature world inside the cardboard box walls – amazing!

Play school activities provide children with a wide range of experiences, from valuing and having fun applying various academic skills, to having extended periods of time to experiment with various materials, to improving their fine motor skills, and strengthening their interpersonal exchanges with their friends. For parents, it is important to balance adequate supervision of a play school activity with providing children with their own creative space.

Linda Sweet  M.S. Ed.