My Top 5 Reasons Why Playing is Learning

Playing is a big part of our day around here. We play all sorts of things like dinosaurs and baby dolls. I am all about pretending and using our imagination. It’s great! But aside from fun, playing has other wonderful benefits to our little people.

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1. Speech development
Elle has been going to speech therapy since the beginning of the year. Playtime is a great time to naturally focus on the sounds on which she needs to work. For example, when we play babies Elle becomes Dr. Elle and we can /f/igure out i/f/ the baby has a /f/ever and what we need to do to /f/ix her booboo. Can you tell we are now working on the /f/ sound? I try to incorporate words that have the sound and as we have our conversation she repeats some of those words; it’s a great way to practice.
2. Vocabulary expansion
When we play together we talk a lot. And this is a fabulous time for me to add in “big” words. In fact the other week while playing dinosaurs I asked if the dinosaurs were going to battle. Elle immediately perked up and asked what battle meant. “It means to fight,” I told her. Since then I have heard her use that word several times in conversation, and she has correctly used the word.
3. Problem solving
One thing my kiddos love to pretend is being different animals. They also like to pretend being a scientist who is looking for a particular animal so they can observe or help the animal. This opens up the door to their creativity: how can we help the fox find its home? Let’s build a den! And there you have it, now we are figuring out how to build a fort and make it have the characteristics of a fox’s den. There are so many ways to incorporate this skill. Playing with blocks automatically puts this skill to use.
4. Modeling manners
Playing with my children gives me a chance not only to reinforce please and thank you but to show how to act or behave in different situations. If Elle is being the mommy and I am the daughter and my “mommy” doesn’t give me the candy I asked for, I don’t throw a fit. This is my opportunity to show her how to accept a negative response to her requests. Sometimes, I will behave badly and we later talk about why it’s not okay to behave in that way.
5. Learning something new
I love it when we come to a part in our game when it takes on a new direction, I can explain how something works. The other day while playing pet shop we eventually came to a point where we were learning how money is made. As the pet shop owner of 16 triceratops, I wanted to make sure that the purchaser of 6 triceratops had enough land and money to care for these creatures. I asked Elle “how do you make money?” She explained that she takes paper and cuts it into rectangles then draws on it to make her money. (I tried really hard not to laugh, she took my question so literal.) I proceeded to be upset that she would dare use counterfeit money and that I wouldn’t be able to sell her any animals. Then I took this as a learning opportunity and explained what counterfeit was and showed her a video from the mint so she could see how money is printed.
We have fun playing. We are learning while playing. And for this homeschool mom, learning when it doesn’t feel like learning is the absolute best.

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Love Languages Discovered

beach heartLast night I came to a realization. My daughter’s love language is “Receiving Gifts.” She had gone out on a Daddy/Daughter date earlier that afternoon and came back with a gift for her little brother. It was a mini toy monster truck. He finally awoke from his nap and Elle was eager to give it to him.

If you aren’t familiar, according to Gary Chapman, there are five love languages. I have only read his book meant for love relationships. It’s pretty cool to recognize what you and your spouse’s love language is so that you can show him your love in a way that he best understands. There is a love language book for parents to discover their children’s language too. I have not read that one but the languages are the same.

This is not the first time she came home with a little present for her little brother, but what struck me was how she explained why she was giving him this souvenir. She told Finn that she was giving him the truck because she loved him, and if she didn’t give him something then it meant she didn’t love him, and she continued to explain that she loved him and that was why he was receiving this gift.

It was surprising to hear her explain love in this way because my husband and I have not shown love to each other in that way. It is not important to us to receive gifts and in some ways we see it a being materialistic.

This little show of affection reminded me of a conversation I had with Elle a couple of weeks back. We were in the grocery store and she saw the floral department. She told me that “it would be really nice if Daddy would buy me some flowers like he did before.” At the time I didn’t think too much about it.

Another inkling that made me think of the love languages was when my hubby gave her a seed that was starting to sprout. He has been working on wheatgrass lately and was sprouting some seeds in a jar. After he inspected the progress he took one little seed out to show Elle, she is so fascinated with all of hubby’s growing projects. He then told her that she could have the seed. She is such a funny little girl. By her response you would think she just got a pony or whatever other prized possession for which a girl could ask. She gasped with awe and gratitude, and for the rest of the night she named the seed and babied the seed as if it were her favorite doll.

giving flower thank youI am super excited to have figured out another dimension to my daughter. It really helps to understand her more deeply. As I expressed this realization to my hubby he made the observation that Finn’s love language is “Acts of Service.” Every evening as we settle in the living room Finn brings Hubby a blanket (we keep it pretty cold in the house, it’s normal to need a blanket at the end of the day). He is also quick to help mommy empty the dishwasher. He always helps sister when we are leaving by bringing her shoes and coat to her. And he gives you this look of appreciation and gratitude if you help him with something as trite as bringing his plate to the table.

How do your children show love? It’s probably the way that they best receive your love too.

Have you discovered your child’s love language?

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How Did You Get Your Job?

4460629019_6c760a18a5“How did you get your job?” was quite the interesting question posed by my daughter. It came out of the blue and I have been a stay at home mom for the last two years.

I began asking her what she meant and she wanted to know about the job that I had at the restaurant. I explained that I needed a job to pay for where I was living, to pay for food, clothes, and other things that I needed and wanted. Then I told her that I applied for jobs and that I was interviewed and they liked me, so they hired me. “Does that answer your question?” I was still wondering why she wanted to know.

She seemed satisfied with my answer and proceeded to tell me that when she gets older she’s going to “get a job in a place where they fix animals.” “Oh, you’re going to work as a veterinarian?” “Yes!”

It all made sense. We had just come from the store where she saw a toy vet set that came with an interactive dog you help to get better. She really wants that toy. Maybe I allow the perusal of the toy aisle too often, maybe she’s just five and wants everything she sees. Either way this will be a great learning opportunity in responsibility, earning and saving money to buy what she wants.

Two things that are now on my to do list: help Elle set money goals to earn what she wants and find books about being a veterinarian. This was not the first time I saw this veterinarian interest. I’m wondering what is to come.

How do you encourage your child’s curiosities?

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