The long summer holidays are here and while the children are looking forward to their well deserved rest I know that many of us parents are wondering how we are going to fill all those days. As a teacher I know that the long summer holidays are needed for the children to rest and recuperate, however it is often the case that children come back to school in September and they struggle to get back into the routines and expectations of school. It can often take a few weeks for them to get back to their full potential again. Therefore I thought I could combine these two problems and I have come up with some fun solutions which will keep the children happy and engaged in activities and at the same time give them time to practise their writing skills. Isabel has had a few days away from school and already she has forgotten what a finger space looks like and how to sound out words when she is writing. Below are a few fun activities we have been doing together.
1. Role Play
Isabel and Megan love role play and it is lovely to see them engaging in play together. It is great for Megan as Isabel is able to model good language and vocabulary for her. Isabel also benefits from having someone to interact with, she is learning to listen to Megan’s ideas and take turns in conversation which are all fantastic skills for every day life. When I join in the role play I am able to model new language for both girls and also demonstrate how unfamiliar interactions take place. For example I can role play the part of a waitress and model how to take an order in a restaurant which is an interaction they may not have fully understood before. The easiest way to enhance role play is to add some form of writing to it. It doesn’t have to be complicated just a notebook and pencil or even a folded piece of paper and pencil is all that is needed to take it to the next level. Below are some role play ideas I have for the summer and the ways I will enhance writing.
Ice cream shop– Blanket over a box, till, money, ice creams (we have a pack from amazon which includes ice cream scoops, cones, bowls, spoons) note pad and pencil.
Restaurant– Play kitchen and utensils, play food, chalk board/whiteboard (I have just bought a table top one this week in Lidl for £7.99) paper and pencil (one for recipes to write down for chef to cook and one for taking orders)
Post office- small table and chair, cheap occasion cards (in card factory you can get 5 for £1), post cards, paper, envelopes, stamps (I’m going to buy 50 1p stamps), a range of pens and pencils, a box painted red with a slit to post letters. (Depending on how play goes we might use Charlie’s Thomas the Tank Engine ride on as a delivery van)
Travel Agent- small table and chair, range of magazines for holiday destinations, old computer keyboard, old telephone, notepad and pencil/pen,
Doctors surgery/hospital – waiting room with small table, chair, old computer keyboard, old telephone, notepad/pen, consulting room with doctors bag and instruments, blanket and pillow, notepad and pencil to write down height and weight, prescriptions, any doctors notes etc
We have hospital role play all the time. Due to Isabel’s ongoing medical condition she likes to role play her experiences in order to make sense of them and normalise what has happened to her. Role play is a perfect way for children to safely explore new or unfamiliar experiences, so if you are going to a new place or your child will be experiencing something they don’t like such as going to the dentist or the hairdresser then role play it before and after as it will support your child through this experience.
Megan loves the opportunity to ‘write’ and is really demonstrating some great emergent writing at the moment. Emergent writing includes any mark making that your child does. For example the following photograph shows Megan’s writing after taking an order at the restaurant. She is writing ‘chocolate cake’.
2. Making a memory book- We had a fantastic experience last week when we went to Peppa Pig world for two days. The children and adults absolutely loved it and we were all sad to leave and come home. We have talked about it endlessly and we have also recreated our experience with the Peppa Pig toys we have at home. Isabel and Megan set them up as Peppa Pig world and then relived the day. In order to build on this I asked Isabel if she would like to make a memory book, she jumped at the idea so we printed out all her favourite photos from the visit. Isabel and Megan then went through the pictures and decided where they would go in the book. It was lovely listening to them talk about the photos together. Isabel then stuck them down in a scrap book and we are now in the process of writing a little bit about each picture. When doing this don’t expect it to be done in one go, this activity could go on for at least a week in order for it to be done properly.
3. Shopping List- see my previous blog on how to make food shopping a bit more interesting for the children and help them to keep practising their writing skills. http://www.thehappylearner.com/food-shopping/
4. Pen Pal- Try and get yourself a pen pal. This could be a friend from school and the children could write to each other once a week to update their friends on the holidays so far. It could also be a grandparent or even a neighbour. Isabel’s pen pal is a friend that we used to live near. The girls were very close from babies to aged two until we moved away. Isabel was so excited when Jasmine asked if she could be her pen pal and often gets Jasmine’s letter out to read again. We have been a bit lapse at writing lately due to a busy end of term (sorry Caroline and Jasmine) but will hopefully get a few more letters written over the holidays.
5. Finger Gym! As always I love a few finger gym activities as they keep those muscles needed for writing nice and strong. We have enjoyed playing finger football lately (world cup fever!) All you need is some old toilet roll/kitchen roll tubes, some pom poms or tin foil rolled into a ball. I set up around 4 or 5 tubes in a mini course and the aim of the game is to try and flick the ball through the tube and make it all the way around the course. All the children loved it and Charlie even tried to get involved.
Hopefully you find these activities useful.
Over the summer holidays I will be doing Finger Gym Friday where I will put a photo or video on my Facebook page of a finger gym activity you can try at home every Friday. Next blog post will be about supporting reading over the summer holidays.