“For every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.”
These are the words famously uttered by the original super nanny, Mary Poppins, in the 1964 film of the same name, as she teaches the two kids she is caring for the importance of cleaning up their room through song and repetition. She turned a previously difficult task for them into a game, and the children loved her for it. What we can take away from this is that it really all boils down to perspective, and this can be related to learning as well.
Learning can occur through many different mediums and platforms, especially in the tech-savvy age we live in. Kids today are spoiled for choice in terms of the ways in which they can learn. This is also the case with learning through play, which is is commended for infusing learning components into recreational activities. There are a wealth of apps, games and activities that are great for kids to build their cognitive abilities, which will be an asset for them in the classroom and consequently in their day-to-day lives. While we are all for learning via online platforms, we recognize that there are so many different ways to learn.
Below we’ve listed six different activities/games you can introduce to your kids, divided into three categories – Old School Fun, Creative Pursuits and ‘App’tastic Learning & Video Games.
‘Old School’ Fun
These games are classics, but that doesn’t mean they’re outdated! Sometimes, simplicity is the best, and you cannot go wrong with the games listed here, as well as many others that are available for kids.
- Lego – We’ve covered this before in a previous article on “Lego of boring math concepts and learn it visually“, and it’s so effective we definitely couldn’t leave it out! Besides helping kids to pick up fractions, these well known and well loved building blocks will be able to teach kids the importance of creative thinking as they will need to analyze their decisions to construct their blocks into a logical 3D form that they will then be able to play with. Lego also has a line of larger blocks called DUPLO, that are catered specifically for kids aged 1-5. These blocks are a wonderful introduction to the concept of building blocks, if your kids are younger.
- Boardgames – This is something the whole family can enjoy together! There are many types of boardgames out there, but we specifically mean the ones that encourage critical thinking. From classic boardgames like Scrabble for older kids – which encourage kids to think creatively to come up with appropriate words and utilize counting skills to fit them into the right location, to simpler ones like Chutes and Ladders for the younger kids – where they will also learn how to make strategic decisions to gain a positive outcome in the game.
All children learn differently, and some gain the most from being exposed to artistic endeavours. Learning should be tailored to the personality of each child, and if they show an interest in activities that promote creativity, then these skills should be honed.
- Music – This is particularly useful for kids who display a natural inclination towards music. Research suggests that studying a musical instrument from a young age can increase a child’s ability to grasp subjects in school with ease – particularly in terms of language and math! If you are not keen to invest in an instrument, fret not. This is something you can try with your younger kids. Just load up a YouTube page with some songs and make it into a fun game with actions and movements, to form a dance. The combination of singing and dancing will teach kids to multi-task and will boost their brain power at the same time.
- Arts and Crafts – If you’ve noticed, coloring has become a trendy hobby for adults as a form of therapy lately, but let’s not forget that a lot of these creative activities are very much rooted in childhood. What better way to spend quality and fruitful moments with your kids, than with an artistic project or two. Encouraging kids to explore their creativity through these activity is a wonderful way to build their hand-eye coordination through tasks like cutting items and gluing them. Coloring and painting will teach them to discern colours and shapes too – which for pre-school kids is a great introduction to concepts they will learn of in school. If you’ve ever checked out Johanna Basford’s intricate coloring books, you’ll be won over! The famous British author sold millions of copies of her magical inky quests, including Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest. On top of highly imaginative pen and ink drawings both parents and children can color and embellish together, there are hidden objects to be discovered within the pages including wild flowers, animals and birds, gems, lanterns, keys and treasure chests!
‘App’tastic Learning & Video Games
Of course this list wouldn’t be complete without a nod to the games that are so prevalent today – online games. Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of the digital age is the immersive nature of content these days, and games are no exception. Kids are now active participants in games which will also prove beneficial to how effectively they absorb information.
- Online Apps – This of course is close to our hearts, as Zap Zap Math fits into the category. There are many apps available that are catered to kids specifically, and allow for moduled learning while being entertaining and interesting to kids. Apps usually are consistently updated so as to continuously engage their users, and this is an important feature as kids will be able to improve their skills through constant use of the platforms in question. Besides our own app which emphasizes teaching mathematical concepts, there are also many apps that focus on different angles and content, such as Duo Lingo, which teaches various languages in separate modules.
- Video Games – Video games are often thought of as controversial and not always painted in the most positive light. In fact there are organizations devoted to the sole purpose of eliminating games of this type due to the perception that the content is harmful and encourages violence in youth. Video games have actually been proven to encourage creativity in kids, and also increase their cognitive abilities since their senses are engaged heavily while playing these action-based games that require them to retain a lot of information, use quick thinking to solve issues within the games as well as multi-task. There are many video games out there that have child friendly content, such as Disney Infinity. And even if you don’t have a video game console, a lot of video games can now be played for free on PCs, which means you can actively search for appropriate content for your kids, depending on their age groups and specific interests.
Each of the activities listed above share a common denominator – which is that all will encourage a sense of structure to a child on some level, whilst also teaching them the importance of practice, repetition and challenges in ways that will not be burdensome or stressful. Zap Zap Math also encourages such values through our game-oriented universe of math lessons.
In addition to all the ideas presented above, we hope you’ll also give Zap Zap Math a try. Download it here, for your Android or Apple devices!