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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Six Super Saving Educational Activities for Kids and Families

By Maxine Sprague

Teaching kids how to learn will go a long way in helping them be more successful in school. With all the educational materials marketed to parents, one would think it takes a sizeable budget to teach kids the skills they need to succeed in today's electronic world. This is simply not true. Basic skills required for learning are the same as they have always been. 

Children need to have inquiring minds that propel them to find out about the world around them. They need basic decoding skills that will help them learn to read and an understanding of fundamental concepts that will help them become proficient at Math. There are many easy and inexpensive activities you can do with your children that will help them become keen learners. Try some of the following and reap the spin-off rewards of spending time with your children.

1. Read, read and read some more. Kids learn from your example, so make reading a part of their lives from birth and beyond. You will probably want to buy some new books for your child's collection but there are also lots of inexpensive ways to get your hands on books. Garage sales, secondhand stores, clear out sales, friends and relatives, and the local library are some resources you can tap into.

2. Experiences teach children a bundle about their world. If you live in the city, schedule a trip to a friend or relative's farm. Don't know anyone. Ask around and let your friend's know you want to visit a farm and there will be someone who knows someone who will help you out. If you live in the country, take a trip to the city for no other reason than to explore with your child. Visit high rises and ride the elevators, stop by repair shops such as shoe and bicycle stores to see how things are fixed. Some larger cities have underground tunnels that allow you to visit many places in the city center while remaining indoors. Other places to visit include the airport, fire station, ferry dock, farmer's market, television studio, garden center, and pet stores. Pack a fun bag lunch and you're sure to have a great day.

3. Stock up on inexpensive craft items. Keep a box handy to throw in items such as tin cans, cardboard, used ribbon and wrapping paper, old jewelry, sewing supplies, Styrofoam, wallpaper and whatever else you might have. Buy craft items such as googly eyes, sparkle glue, beads, felt and craft foam when they are on sale. These items will inspire creativity in your child for some great homemade fun. Borrow craft books from the library and make inexpensive gifts for friends.

4. Make some homemade play dough by mixing 1/2 C. Salt, 1 C. Flour, 2 tsp. Cream of Tartar, 1 T. Oil and 1 C. of Water plus a couple drops of food coloring. Stir and cook over low heat until it turns rubbery. Knead. Roll out long snakes of dough and use to shape letters of the alphabet and numbers for beginning learners. Make cookie cutter cutouts and use to solve number sentences. For example: Tracy had 5 stars. Her teacher gave her 3 more stars. How many stars does she have in all? Make game pieces for games like Tic-Tac-Toe. Try making play dough dice to use with other games. Let their imaginations be your guide.

5. Save containers from food products and help your child set up a store with a toy cash register. Cardboard apple boxes from the grocery store make great shelves. Use money to teach them how to buy items and make change. A shopping cart and grocery bags add to the fun.

6. Get together with other parents and plan an educational play day. Each family is responsible for providing one educational game or activity. Make a station for each activity so the children can rotate and try each one. Use simple math, spelling, vocabulary and language games. You could set up stations involving measuring using sand or dry cereal. Don't forget puzzles, blocks and water play areas as well. This is a great way to share ideas while having fun and learning together with others.

Do you want to know about smart toys?


, BEd is a parent, author, and educator and lives in Edmonton, Alberta. She is the author of 3 books including her latest, Super Easy Bag Lunches - Recipes and Hundreds of Other Happy Baggin' It Ideas. (The Learning Center Press)

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