‘I’m bored’. Two words you don’t have to hear this school holiday…
The school holidays bring a welcomed break, but the stop-start routine of the school year doesn’t suit every child. Children can find it hard to retain any hard-won literacy or numeracy skills over the holidays, which doesn’t help their confidence either.
Children get bored (naturally), but the last thing they want to do is get their books out, so here are some simple, low-cost ideas to keep them occupied and their brains ticking over.
Winter fun with hidden learning
1. Keep it simple – invent a quick or ‘lite’ version of a more complex game where everyone has a manageable degree of difficulty. (These adaptations work well for players with shorter attention spans).
2. Aim for a ‘little and often’ approach – short bursts work better for everyone.
3. Free online resources are brilliant, and children will learn more if you try and stay engaged with them throughout the activity.
4. You have our permission to have fun too!
Choose activities that encourage specific numeracy, literacy and kinaesthetic learning.
Numeracy: On phones and tablets we like https://www.coolmath4kids.com which is free and has loads of competitive games that children and adults can play.
Literacy: Wordsearches are fun and great for literacy training. Find free word search apps, we especially like pictoword, wordcircle and wordscapes (free to download on android on apple), or https://www.games.co.uk/game/word-connect for similar PC version
Most children love baking, and it encourages lots of different skills.
Numeracy – measuring, counting, timing.
Literacy – Reading the ingredients list, writing a shopping list for anything else you need.
Kinaesthetic – kneading, mixing, rolling, cutting out shapes, using cookie cutters.
Baking doesn’t have to be edible! Make salt dough Christmas decorations, messages for Santa or an entire alphabet to practise all three types of skill. Popcorn strings make brilliant tree decorations and are great for working little hands and for counting activities – https://unsophisticook.com/salt-dough-recipe/
Board games: Dust off traditional board games that offer lots of opportunities for thinking, learning and participation.
Numeracy – counting spaces, keeping score. Snakes and Ladders type games.
Literacy – reading instructions. Junior Scrabble and Boggle (older children). ‘I Can Do That’ (Dr Seuss cards) are great for reluctant readers and dyslexics as it allows readers and non-readers to take place in a charade type game using short words and picture clues.
Kinaesthetic – moving small pieces, collecting parts of the game, ‘winning’ other players pieces. Try Jenga, Kerplunk, Operation, floor puzzles, Twister etc.
Out and about: You can make up your own memory games and stories where each player adds a new line to the story, the next person has to recite the story up to their part, add their own line and so on. Matching pairs of cards/ pictures and so on are also good and introduces a kinaesthetic element too.
Of course, in a few days, a man with a red sack may bring some respite for the ‘boredom’ factor, but the best news is that once you’ve got a few learning games up your sleeve, they work all year round, not just at Christmas!
We’re always happy to give information and guidance to parents so if you have any concerns about your child’s learning, please get in touch:
Hull East Centre Director, Liz Martin, is a Specialist Dyslexia Teacher and Assessor. She has a Post Graduate Certificate in Difficulties in Literacy Development (Dyslexia) and has a current practising certificate with PATOSS. Liz also has experience in teaching and supporting children and young people with Dyspraxia, Visual Stress and ADHD.
Hull West Centre Director, C-J Lingard, holds a Master of Social Science degree and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education. C-J’s teaching experience has taken her across the globe and into a diverse range of teaching environments. Kip McGrath Hull West offers tuition for primary and secondary students in English and Maths.
A big Mumbler thanks to Kip McGrath for writing this useful article and for sponsoring an award in the upcoming Mumbler Awards! They are sponsoring the Best Over 5s Class or Activity, find out more about that here.