And Now for the Second Part of the Family Literacy Circle’s Kindergarten Series…
Play continues to be a significant part of your child’s growth & development. Free Play, which is highly recommended by brain & child experts as well as children themselves and Pretend Play, which is the natural-occurring form of daily learning, are both important parts influencing the Brain’s wiring for Thinking & Learning skills as well as Creative & Social skills.
Even the toys, or tools, your child chooses to include in his/her play are essential. They influence creativity & imagination everyday.
ACT TWO : Play Power
Free Play, Toys as Tools, and Pretend Play all are important parts of your 5-year-old’s ability to problem solve, brainstorm & understand her/his immediate world as well as explore & discover new & different ones.
You can encourage how your child participates in & learns from these ongoing adventures in a variety of ways.
Guidance without too much interference will strengthen in your child’s decision-making abilities, confidence & independence.
Of course, there will be times when issues of safety (and sanity ) have definite boundaries…. I mean, risk-taking has its limits in the REAL world…..
Yes, Your 5 Year Old Is A BRAINIAC !
Teach a child how to think, not what to think. ~ Sidney Sugarman
Her/his brain is almost the size of an adult’s. It will continue to develop for the next 20 years. And just a “heads-up”…. you’re in for some REAL brain-wave excitement in about 10 years time….
Some these Cognitive, or Thinking & Learning Skills your child may be displaying are:
- creating more imaginative ways to complete a task
- asking more analytical questions while weighing the choices
- understanding & using concepts like: big, bigger & biggest; first, middle & last; yesterday, today & tomorrow; first, then & next; more, less, same; before & after; above & below
- asking & answering a variety of questions, including “how many”
- inventing games with simple rules
- identifying basic colors of blue, yellow, red, green & orange
- beginning to understand how to sort & classify objects by size, shape or type
- showing interest in cause & effect
Promoting Your Child’s Brain Growth & Development
Your continued interaction with your child, not only strengthens brain cell connections, but, also, builds skills in language, cognition & socialization as well as self-help skills. Specifically:
- Encourage independent problem solving; however make suggestions & decide on solutions together
- Suggest your child use all 5 senses for more in-depth observations
- Allow for an extra “get ready” window to promote independence during time-sensitive preparations
- Promote Literacy through drawings, pictures & lots of questions
- Make sure your child plays OUTSIDE a lot, especially with other children because, yes, s/he is preferring activities that involve others
Free Play and The Brain
When my children become wild and unruly, I use a nice safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out. ~ Erma Bombeck
Whether alone in her/his “hide-away” place or playing with peers, child development and brain experts agree on the significant power of free, unstructured play.
During free play, children express their emotions & feelings, which helps them to identify who they are.
Unorganized play without lots of rules promotes the development and growth of creativity, flexibility , and adaptation to future challenges.
Sergio Pellis, a neuroscientist from Alberta, Canada, observed that “the brain rewires itself under the positive stress of play, as children figure out how to navigate the world and each other.”
As part of a peer-play group, children learn to share, resolve conflicts, make decisions, and be assertive.
“If You Play with Me, I’ll Be Your Best Friend….”
Your 5-year-old wonder has moved quite comfortably into the Social stage of play partnered with the Expressive stage of play. S/he enjoys playing with others in his/her age group, seeking and creating opportunities to engage in this type of play.
S/he is interested in exploring new playgrounds, parks and friends’ houses. Community play-spaces can have a positive effect on youngsters, making them feel more connected to their neighborhoods.
Swinging on playground swings & trying out new jungle gyms are especially enjoyable to your 5-year-old. You may notice her/him initiate conversations & play in a familiar way with other children, even though they’ve never met.
Free, physical play is SO important for your child’s development of his/her body awareness. It stimulates growth as well as strengthens her/his fine & gross motor skills. S/he may bring toys to the play area and invite some peers to play with them. Together, of course !
YAY ! What A FUN Toy !
Your child’s toys should stimulate & engage his/her imagination, communication, collaboration, creativity, and cognition, as well as her/his gross & fine motor skills.
You’ve heard the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. It may have been created while watching children at play. Believe me when I tell you, I have seen & heard children create amazing worlds with little and/ or nothing but their incredible imaginations, a few pebbles, sticks, leaves, and a pile of dirt……
So, What Are Some Brain~Food Toys ?
Open-ended toys, or play tools can used in many, many ways, depending in your child’s imagination or learning-needs.
Here are a few ideas child development experts suggest for your child’s growth in these areas:
- board games for pre-readers, like Chutes & Ladders, Connect Four
- card games, like Uno, Go Fish, Old Maid
- memory & match games
- puzzles with 15-20 pieces
- large & small wooden/plastic blocks
- Lincoln logs
- tinker toys
Arts & Crafts
- play-dough & clays
- scissors & glue
- pencils. crayons, washable markers & watercolors
- drawing & construction papers
- jump ropes
- high bouncing ball (utility rubber ball)
- bicycle with training wheels
Dramatic & Pretend
- puppets, dolls, stuffed animals
- action & animal figures (Play-mobiles)
- trucks, cars, train sets/race tracks
- pretend walkie-talkies, phones & cameras
- dress-up clothes & costumes
- play tools
- LARGE cardboard boxes
I know I repeat myself, but at my Home Day School, I observed my children create everything from blocks, rocks & sticks. And there were HUGE crates of toys readily available in their playroom !
Powerful Pretend Play
The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination. ~ Albert Einstein
At the age of 5, your child is becoming more & more project-minded. S/he is planning play scenarios that include buildings, different roles, materials & tools with the drawings to implement them. A script may not be in writing, but the appropriate dialogue is in place…..with assignments for each person, animal & object.
Not only are your child’s Pretend Play plans “elaborate”, they will be enacted for long periods of time with new (and improved) details added each time.
Feel like your child is ready to try some new & different Pretend Plays ? Visit my Resource Library for a Pretend Play website collection: Pretend Play Power : 8 Helpful Websites.
Or click on the link below:
How You Can Contribute to Your Child’s Pretend Play
During Pretend Play, especially with others, your child is engaging in problem solving and building new understandings about the world , other people & oneself. New ideas are tested, many questions are asked (and some answered), and discoveries through exploration are numerous.
Although your 5-year-old has some definite ideas & plans regarding his/her Pretend Play, you can make some “suggestions” on what s/he might want to include into the setting. Ask questions, like “How will you….., What if the……, When will you….., Where are the……?” to promote details, cause/effect and expansion.
Six (or Seven) Simple Pretend Plays
As children we LOVED to play House, Mommy, Daddy, Baby, Cook, etc. Dressing up in our parents’ old clothes & accessories, including humongous shoes delighted us for hours, days, months, and, yes, years.
You might like to view a collection of 6 Simple Pretend Play ideas in a quick-read, table format, so I cheerfully created one (LOVE those info-tables). I included materials you will find around the house in the attic, basement, recycle bin or closets; at yard sales (gold mines); or neighborhood discount stores.
Six (or Seven) Simple Pretend Play Scenarios & Material Lists
LARGE-SIZED ITEMS MEDIUM-SIZED ITEMS SMALL-SIZED ITEMS CLOTHING & LINENS
House broom, mop, vacuum. ironing board, lawnmower, rake, washing machine, dryer, clothes basket trash and/or leaf bags, feather duster, clothesline, cleaning spray bottles, cleaning caddy, phone, storage bins iron, cleaning & yard gloves, clothespins, drinking water bottle, message pad/pencil, small clipboards for lists kerchief, cap, cleaning rags, sponges, laundry
Nursery cradle/crib, highchair, baby carrier, stroller, bathing tub, changing table dolls, cuddly toys, diaper bag. storage bins bottles, rattles, chew toys, tub toys, board books doll clothes, diapers, wash & burb cloths, blankets, baby pillow
Kitchen stove/oven, sink, fridge, table, chairs, cabinet/shelves for kitchen stuff pots/pans, dishes,bowls,cups, mixing bowls, colander, dish rack, cookbooks, clipboards, storage bins cooking & eating utensils, food pictures, play fruits & veggies, play canned & boxed food apron, wash cloths, dish towels, napkins, tablecloth, place-mats
People's Health Clinic
table & chairs, pet carriers scale,clipboards, medical bag, patients:dolls,stuffed animals, storage bins medical gloves, medical tools: stethoscope, thermometer, syringe, reflex hammer, bandages, gauze, band-aids, cotton balls lab coat, wash clothes, blankets, towels
wagon, table & chairs, trucks, earth movers hardhats,tool box, shovels, clipboards, storage bins tools: hammer, saw, screwdrivers, ruler, t-square, measuring tape, nuts, bolts,, screws, nails, vices, paper/pencils, phone, ropes, chains, safety goggles kerchief, boots, vests, work gloves, toolbelt
Restaurant tables, chairs, stools, menu board, kitchen-to-server window, cash register dishes, bowls, cups,vases & flowers, order wheel, trays, bus tub, storage bins eating utensils, play food, salt/pepper shakers, sugar & creamerpackets, ketchup/mustard containers, play money, order tickets/pencils, small clipboard, clothespins, phone, calculator, to-go bags aprons, table settings: napkins, place-mats, tablecloths
To promote additional Literacy skills in these 6 Pretend Plays, I created signs, bin labels, hat symbols, forms and lists to accompany each scenario. They are gathered together in a DIY Collection Manual : Prop~Templates for 6 Simple Pretend Plays complete with Construction Instructions as well as Tips & Idea Suggestions. Here’s the link to this product in BLB Shop:
I hope you found some useful Play Power tips & strategies to help you & yours prepare for this eventful step in your family’s lives. Let me hear how you are ….
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