6 Activities for kids spanning the ages.

Apr 22, 2014

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This day and age, children have access to just about every possible play thing imaginable. The variety of toys, games and items made specifically for the entertainment of children is quite overwhelming and is mainly driven by consumerism and toy companies than actual need.

Whilst there have been significant changes in the availability and capability of children's play things over the years, you will find that the way children play and many of the items they play with, have been around long before we were.

Here is a list of 6 different ways/activities that children can play and a brief look at where they began.

1) Play Checkers (Ancient Times)

It was around 4000 BC that a Babylonian game is believed to have been played that was probably an ancestor of chess and checkers (draughts) and around 3000 BC, that Egyptians are believed to have played a game resembling the checkers we know today. (Facts via toyinfo.org and wikepedia.org)

Checkers, a strategy board game for 2 people, can seem a little complicated at first, but is relatively simple to play once you get the hang of it. Whilst probably recommended for older children in general, I know some 5 year olds that could give you a real run for your money!

I found this was a good, easy explanation of the rules of checkers

Below are a couple of other handy free resources:

2) Play Blocks (Late 1700s)

Children have probably been playing with blocks from around the late 1600's (or even earlier if truth be known), but the earliest recorded mention of them specifically being used as something for children to play and learn with was in a book on Education in the late 1700's. (Practical Education, 1798 M. Edgeworth & R.L. Edgeworth).

In the early 1800's, Friedrich Froebel, the inventor of Kindergarten, developed a set of wooden blocks known as Froebel's Gifts, that lay claims to be the worlds first educational toys. Developed specifically to aid in the education and development of young children. These blocks were played with, as young children, by some of the most prominent people of their time including Albert Einstein Buckminster Fuller, Frank Lloyd Wright, Paul Klee & Piet Mondrian. (If that's not a good reason to start playing with wooden blocks, I don't know what is.) Spielgaben have reinvented their version of the set and my children play with it daily. It is an educational toy that is worth having in your house.

Here are a couple of ways that you could play with blocks today (the links will open in a new window for you):

These days blocks are not all made from wood and are often made of coloured plastic, the most famous being the Lego group, who started producing plastic interlocking bricks in 1949. (History of Lego on Wikepedia).

Here are a couple of ways you could play and learn from Lego/Duplo today:

3) Make and Fly a Box Kite (Late 1800s)

The box kite was invented by Australian, Lawrence Hargrave in 1893 and was the first 3 dimensional kite made. Hargrave's original purpose was to lift a man off the ground which he succeeded in, but these days, the high flying box kites are mainly used by children and families as part of a hobby or plaything. You can read more about the history of the box kite on Wikepedia.

Building a box kite is a fun family project and whilst it can look complex, it's not really that difficult. Making something that appears as though it will never actually fly makes it all the more interesting (and box kites fly really well and high!), and the surface area of the paper makes for a fabulous 3-dimensional art gallery.

I've done a lot of searching for good tutorials on making a Box kite and the one below is the best I've found so far. Click the link below full instructions:

I also found templates and instructions in making a slightly different style of box kite which looked pretty cool. The site also sells a kit to make it but you could just download the template and the instructions and make it up yourself:

4) Draw with Wax Crayons (Early 1900s)

Whilst the origin of the crayon dates back way further than the Early 1900's, it wasn't until 1903 that the first box was made and marketed for children as a toy. You can probably guess which company holds the honors. Before this, crayons were mainly oil based, very crumbly and used by artists. When wax was introduced to them it made them much sturdier, hence why they make such a good, safe first drawing tool for children.

Simply drawing with crayons on both black and white paper is great for little kids. For something a little different you could try:

5) Play with Playdough (1950s)

It might surprise you to know that Playdoh was first introduced to the market, (not under that name), back in the 1930s as a wallpaper cleaner! It wasn't until a class started using it as a modelling compound that the idea was formed to market it as the play compound that we still know today. It hit stores in 1956 and there have been many variations made since. 

As a child I played often with homemade playdough. None of the bought stuff for us. My children also play with it almost daily. Below are a number of fun ways that we've played and learnt with playdough. Just click the pictures to go to the activities.



6) Play some Apps! (Modern Day)

Ok, this is an area that has certainly changed! These days children can have their own kid dedicated tablets jam packed with fun and interesting apps designed to challenge, entertain and teach a variety of different skills.
Below are some apps that we have played and enjoyed in the past. They are all currently free on the Google Play store except for the Toca Boca app, unfortunately. My kids really enjoy all of their apps and we were lucky to snap some up while they were free, so keep your eye out as you never know when they'll have a sale or release another free app. You can click on the pictures below to go to the apps.


GIVEAWAY: We are currently giving away a $100 voucher to the Google Play store. You can buy a lot of apps for that amount!! Go here to enter.

I hope you enjoyed this little journey through time and found some fun ways to play today. If you're interested in reading more information about different toys and when they were invented, I found lots of interesting facts on Toy Info's Toy Timeline.

What toys do your kids play with today that your great grandparents would have played with?
I can think of a few!

Happy creating,
Debs :)

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The Samsung GALAXY Tab 3 Kids is the tablet that grows with your child. With intuitive Kids Mode, parental settings and a great selection of preloaded apps, it's the unique tablet for kids that parents will love.

Invitation to Create with styrofoam, pipe-cleaners and paint.

Apr 18, 2014

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The first week of the school holidays here was quite miserable weather so there was a lot of time spent inside. This meant lots of creative and open-ended activities to keep the kids, aged 5 and 2, entertained and their minds stimulated.

Today's activity was an Invitation to Create with a few available materials we had on hand. My original idea had actually been to wrap pipe-cleaners around some foam pieces to create a type of pipe-cleaner resist artwork, however, it was more interesting and promoted greater creativity and investigation to simply supply the materials and leave the rest up to the kids.

Ages: 2+
(See the bottom for handy tips to make the activity work best for your child.)

  • Styrofoam pieces (I wouldn't buy this stuff, just recycle any that enters your house in packaging. etc. Any shape or size is fine)
  • Pipe-cleaners
  • Paint (we used our favourite easy wash metallic paint from Micador)
  • Brushes

When presenting the same activity to children of multi-ages, it is always interesting to see how they approach it. It was no surprise to me that my toddler went straight for the paint and his older sister started with the pipe-cleaners.

Maddie (5) worked with care and purpose. We discussed ideas for what her creation could be used for. (I think she decided on a stage area for toys to perform).

Noah (2), enjoyed the sensory experience of touching and using all the materials around him.

He may not have thought to stick pipe-cleaners in the foam but working beside his older sister allowed for peer learning and discovery as he attempted to imitate her careful actions.

Practicing those fine-motor skills and hand-eye coordination

As with all different painting surfaces, the paint will react differently with it. The foam was somewhat absorbent but also somewhat water resistant at the same time which was interesting for the kids. Some of the colour would soak in but my toddler discovered he could wipe the paint back off the foam with a cloth and reapply the paint over and over again. This gave us many opportunities to talk about the different colour combinations as he applied them.

Exploring the paint, swirling and mixing. Without realising it or with any intention, we are investigating properties of various liquids (the paint), including the density and thickness and how it sits on a brush or canvas. This is also a natural time to discuss colours and colour mixing with children.

When the paint dried on the styrofoam, the colours were a bit duller but overall made a nice effect. We're not exactly sure what we're going to do with out now decorated foam pieces but I'm sure we'll come up with something. Any suggestions? :)

Handy Tips:

- Simplify this activity by leaving out the pipe-cleaners and simply exploring the effects of paint on styrofoam. Or, for a mess free activity, leave out the paint and focus on working fine motor skills through building sculptures with the foam and pipe-cleaners.

- Extend this activity by adding extra elements to your initial invitation. Add things like beads, feathers, sticks, leaves etc.

- Get well set up before you start painting with little kids. It's when you have to race off to grab a damp cloth or similar that things can quickly go from a controlled mess to an outright mess, so be prepared before you start by having cleaning supplies like a damp cloth and toweling paper at the ready.

Talk with your child about what they are doing and ask them questions. This will help them understand the physical and mental processes they are going through as well as giving them the vocabulary to describe it. While children are being creative and focused,  it can be a great time to talk about sensitive issues and their feelings.

- Use new language and descriptive words like, "manipulate", "spread", "vibrant", "absorb" etc. This will help with their language development.

- Still feeling creative? Here are some of our other arty ideas for kids. 
(click on the pictures to go to the post)

 art for kids, fun art, canvas art   painting activity, kids activity, activity for kids  activities for kids  kids art

Happy creating,
Debs :)

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