Wednesday, May 28, 2014

5 Fun "Homework" Ideas for 5 Year Olds

My daughter will be going into Kindergarten next year and I have never been the type of Mom to pull out flashcards or do worksheets.  She prefers to be outside with her friends, riding bikes, playing dolls, and getting fresh air.  And that's been fine by me.

However, recently we had a playdate with a friend who is already in Kindergarten and at the end of the playdate, they explained that they had to get home to work on homework.  My daughter was intrigued.  The whole way home she was grilling me with questions about homework.  What did it mean?  Who got to do it?  Did it make you smarter?  And on and on and on.

So, I finally took the opportunity to introduce my daughter to worksheets.  And flashcards.  And she absolutely loves it.  Almost every night after dinner she begs me to do "homework".  I thought the interest would eventually wither away, but sure enough this has been going on for months and she is still thrilled about learning.  Some nights I just don't have the energy for it, but the interesting thing I have noticed is that she is truly behaving better for me in general.  She is quite a ball of energy and sometimes I have a difficult time reining her in, but I think she is thriving on this ability to learn new things.  It is improving her self-esteem and our relationship as well since we get to have this positive time together. 

I started out with worksheets but I have had to come up with some new things to keep her interest because let's face it, worksheets are only so interesting and reading isn't the only important thing to work on.  Here are some ideas of 

1.  Worksheets:  I downloaded some worksheets I found online and we have used Guided Math Made Easy, Grade K, which she really enjoys.  Pictured below is a worksheet from the Kindergarten/Pre-K version of Phonics First: Grades 2-4 ( I couldn't find the actual version I bought on Amazon, so don't buy this version that I linked to, it's for the wrong grades.  I had to go to a local toy store to find the Kindergarten version).  I also found one for my four year old called My First Book Of Tracing (Kumon Workbooks).  He has been insisting on doing "homework" as well since his big sister is doing it and this is great for his fine motor skills.

2.  Counting/Math:  For this I just find stuff around the house, like spoons, playing cards, legos, dolls, anything that is easily accessible and I lay them out on the table and tell her to count them.  When she finishes, she writes the number on the line (see below).  Then I take away a few and ask her to re-count them.  I showed her how to write the minus symbol, the plus symbol, and the equals symbol, and for each set of house-hold items, we turn it into an easy math problem.  This helps reinforce writing numbers and I am slyly introducing her to easy math.  

  3.  Geography:  My kids started to get really interested in other countries during the Olympics, but they had a really hard time understanding how huge the United States of America really is.  Every time we travel, it's hard to explain that we are still in our country.  I found a relatively inexpensive globe on Amazon, Elenco 11" Desktop Political Globe, and my daughter loves looking at it.  I have used it to explain north and south, how it is hotter at the equator and colder at the North and South Pole.  I picked out certain countries and explained some of the things they do there and even used my iPad to show photos of the people of the country, the customs of the country, etc.  I have never seen my daughter so interested in anything!  I had to practically glue her eyes shut that night to get her sleep.

4.  LEGO Stacking/Patterning: My co-author Susan Case, is a big fan of using patterning to teach math and reading skills and I have found this to be an easy and fun way to do some hands-on homework.  I just found some LEGOs, then I would use crayons to draw a pattern of LEGOs and she would put together the pattern for me.  This took no prep work at all, we just made it up and we went and it worked perfectly.

5.  Simple reading: I simply write out a very easy sentence and we work on sounding it out.  This is an opportunity to work on sight words and repetition.  I was so thrilled the first time we did this, because the look on my daughter's face when she read her first full sentence was truly amazing.  She was grinning from ear to ear and was so proud of herself.  

For more ideas on engaging your children and keeping them busy, please consider my book, The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn.  

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