As you’re well aware…it’s been cold out. Freezing cold. Thirty-degrees-below-freezing cold. Way-too-cold-to-take-my-kiddos-out cold.
So we’ve been housebound, trying to stay warm and busy. Luckily, my kids are pretty easily amused. My daughter loves to color, so she’s been coloring for about three days straight now. (Thank you to the insightful friend who made her an art box for her birthday!) My son is into getting into things, so baskets of toys (or laundry) that he can dump out and fill back up again keep him happily amused.
We’ve also stayed in pjs too late and watched way too much TV, and by day three of this I decided we needed a little mental stimulation.
My daughter has a newfound passion for owls, which is replacing her previous adoration for ducks. Being two she is eager to learn new things about her interests, so I created a new game which we’ve come to call “Duck or Owl?”.
First, I created several picture cards of ducks and owls. This was easy enough. I ran Google image searches for pictures of owls and ducks, selected my favorite pictures (8 of each bird), and saved them to my computer. I pulled them up in a Word Document, cropped and resized them to my liking, and printed them. (I did this in Word because I know how to; I’m sure there is a better way to do it, but this worked for me!) I printed out the words “owl” and “duck,” too. I cut them out and taped them onto cardstock.
They aren’t fancy, and the teacher in me wanted to have them laminated for durability, but a trip to Kinkos wasn’t in the forecast and I was excited to share them with my little girl. Turns out, she loved them, and the lack of laminating didn’t offend her at all.
I introduced the cards to her by handing them to her one at a time. I started out with a couple owl pics, and she exclaimed “owl!” or “hoo hoo” with each new card. Then to mix it up, I handed her a duck card. She laughed at me, and started quacking. I handed her each card and she continued to identify the birds by naming them or saying their sound.
Then I just let her look at them for a little bit. She laid them all out and spent some time looking at the pictures. She really seemed to enjoy looking at so many pictures of her favorite animals!
Next I asked her to give me an owl card. She handed me one (saying, “hoo hoo,” of course). I continued to ask for duck or owl cards until we ran out of cards. She REALLY liked that, so we did that again (and again, and again…). After the second round, when I gave her all 16 cards back, she spread them all out on the floor and put the ducks to one side and the owls to the other. I was pretty much exploding with pride, watching her classify and organize the cards on her own. We played duck or owl one more time, then put the cards away for another time.
We’ve gotten a lot of use out of our duck and owl cards! “Duck or Owl?” is still our favorite, but we’ve made up some other variations, too. Some other games we’ve played are:
- What does this animal say? (Hold up a card, and she says “hoo hoo” or “quack.”)
- How does this animal move? (Hold up a card, and pretend to fly like an owl or waddle and flap like a duck.)
- Water or nest? (Put the ducks in a blue bowl that we call “water,” put the owls in a brown bowl that we call “a nest.”)
- Asking for specific cards, like the picture of the white owl who is flying, or the baby duck.
From a learning standpoint, sorting is an excellent way to teach children to classify things by similarities or differences. I used sorting daily when I was teaching, as it can be applied to any topic. You can sort pictures by the sounds they start with. You can sort words by word family. You can sort pictures of animals by habitat. You can sort numbers by whether or not they’re divisible by 5. The possibilities are endless, and the best part is that it seems more like a game than anything!
What did you do to keep the kids sane during the cold???