Want to keep those little minds active and engaged over the next few weeks? We've got some great tips from those in the know!
Ah, the summer holidays. How did they come round so fast?! If you’re umming and ahhing about what to do with your young kids during this summer break, there are lots of options for fun activities, camps and goings-on. But what about how to keep your tiddlies engaged and learning over the summer? Yes, we all deserve a break but we also don’t want our kids to lose the momentum of all those awesome lessons. Here, we’ve got some tips and easy-peasy holiday activities you can enjoy with your youngsters at home to boost their brain cells. These fun ideas, courtesy of some of the top international schools in Singapore, will keep their minds ticking over. Psst: the secret is not getting them to think they’re doing anything remotely educational! Ready? Let’s go!
Fun holiday activities for the school break
1. Mess-free fun
The Early Years teachers at Tanglin Trust School encourage fun learning activities for the holidays – a happy child is a child who will learn! Even indoors you can get active and creative, without creating lots of mess, as Head of Infant PE, Joe Moriarty and Infant Music Specialist, Delphine Hastwell explain:
“Working on Maths and English skills whilst practising hand-eye coordination is a fun way to bring complete focus to an activity. Ask children to take turns hitting a balloon up in the air, but before each player takes their turn they must add a word to create an ongoing story. This can get quite creative! Alternatively, decide whether you are adding or subtracting… player A will then call out a number, player B calls another and as player A takes their next turn they must call out the answer.” says Joe.
“For music at home, I always recommend using household items to make instruments like shakers and drums then using them to play along to music the child likes. You can also use items like paper plates to ice skate in time to classical music on tiles (with caution!). Classic FM Greatest Hits has a good variety of easy listening classics for children. Our KS1 children have had great fun creating, recording and sharing their own operas through blob opera – no musical experience required so why not try it out at home? Laurie Berkner has produced lots of lovely songs for younger children too.
“To introduce them to a range of musical genres, see if they can find jazz, classical, pop, and folk music online with parental support. Play name that tune or instrument when listening to songs they know on Spotify, just stop the tune after a few seconds for the guessing game. Change the words to nursery rhymes to get their creativity firing and for a good giggle, e.g. incy wincy spider climbed up the Banyan tree…” says Delphine.
Basic concepts help children make sense of the world. Which is why you can make use of everyday objects around you to help them understand things like size (big and small), location (up and down), opposites and basic patterns. That’s why it’s easy for parents of young children to make use of their environment when thinking of fun holiday activities. So why is learning over the school break so important?
“Children never stop learning – all us adults need to do is support, extend and stoke their burning curiosity,” says Blue House Nursery and International Preschool’s deputy head of school, Abhi Prakash. “So, they can keep up their learning over the summer holidays just by being themselves. We can make an active choice to be led by children, instead of leading them to achieve what we think is essential. Allowing children the agency to lead their learning activities is an exhilarating experience; it opens our mind and heart to possibilities that we adults have been ‘educated’ out of.”
Use nature or your home surroundings
“Many different experiences can be inspired by things surrounding us in nature, through the use of loose parts at home or through drawings,” says kindergarten teacher, Ms Ayesha. “One particular experience is to ask the children to find and collect items with either a similar shape and different colour or a just a similar colour and then line them up to form a repetitive colour pattern.”
You can also cut string up into small and large lengths and get your child to divide the pieces into long and short piles.
3. Cooking and baking
Cooking with your kids is a great way to boost those brain cells during the summer holidays. “Through cooking, children learn about counting, measurement, estimation, reading and following instructions, and creative problem-solving,” says Serina Teo, curriculum specialist at Shaws Preschool. “For younger children, it’s also a delicious way for them to exercise fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and be exposed to different types of food.”
Sound good? Well, while Shaws Preschool is open all year-round and doesn’t break for summer, Serina and her colleagues still had some fantastic tips to share with parents to keep kids learning and meaningfully engaged when they are not in school. One of our fave learning activities, we say!
Enjoy some fun recipes
“Food usually agrees with most children, and it’s a great tool for keeping them learning and having fun,” says Serina. “Why buy when you can cook? Because it’s a delicious way to learn!” Here, she shares with us a fabulous recipe for a no-cook jam to try with your littlies.
“To make this easy no-cook jam, mash up a packet of slightly thawed frozen berries in a mixing bowl with a potato masher. Then, add in 1–2 tbsps of chia seeds and some honey and lemon juice to taste. If you have a food processor, you can put everything in for a good blitz and then keep it overnight for the chia seeds to be hydrated. This will bind the jam well. No food processor? It will work fine without it, too.” Serve with French toast for a special treat!
4. Maths and number skills
Summer breaks give our children the chance to recharge their batteries for the upcoming term. This term break is certainly a different one, following our recent bout of homeschooling! We’re sure our kids will be relishing the opportunity to catch up in person with a few friends. However, according to Brighton College (Singapore)’s deputy head, Lois Pugh, with certain kinds of knowledge, kids need to ‘use it or lose it’.
“Keeping the learning activities going can still be fun. The outdoors is a paradise when it comes to opportunities for maths practice,” she says. “There are many fun activities parents can try that will keep young brains abreast of concepts and skills… and the best part is they won’t even realise they are learning!”
Out and about learning
Here are some great suggestions from Lois:
- Get out the chalk and explore maths in a more visual sense. For young children, make up games that require them to draw numbers or sequences of numbers.
- Collect sticks outside and use string or tape to tie the corners together to make shapes, discussing the number of sides and the angles you can see.
- When out and about, choose a topic and take a survey. For example, ask your child to note how many cars of each colour they see, use a tally chart to take down the information and then use the data to practise their skills. Can they draw a bar graph or a pie chart?
According to Eugene Low, principal of The Grange Institution, literacy and numeracy are the “foundation blocks of all learning that takes place”. That’s why it’s important to keep up the good work over a summer break. “Literacy development is so important and should be a part of every young child’s daily life,” he adds.
If you’re looking for holiday activities, be sure to sit down with your child and make reading a part of their everyday routine – us HoneyKids parents relish storytime before bed! It’s a great opportunity to spend quality time helping our children recognise letters, sounds and make sense of the illustrations.
“Literacy isn’t just about reading a book,” says Eugene. “It encompasses listening and speaking skills, and the ability to make sense of text and visual symbols in various forms, both on paper and digitally.”
Make the most of your storytime sessions by getting your child to engage with the tale in more ways than one. How? By asking questions! “Humans are born to be curious, and with curiosity comes questioning,” says Eugene. “Why are questions so important? They are the seeds of self-motivated inquiry and the mother of all human inventions and innovations!” So ask away!
Enjoy some tongue twisters
Remember Peter Piper? Kids will love getting their tongues in a twist with some fun alliterative riddles and rhymes. Get them to recite favourites as fast as they can to help with their reading aloud and pronunciation!
Other ideas for summer holiday activities
- Play board games and work on jigsaw puzzles to help with hand-eye coordination, colour identification, number recognition and heaps more.
- Teach them some card games. Remember how much you used to love card games when you were younger? Why not get your children in on the action by showing them a few simple games? Not only will it be heaps of fun, but it will also boost their numeracy and maths skills.
- Visit the library. It’s a great opportunity to stock up on some fab new reads without spending a cent.
- Grow some flowers or food. Give them the green-fingered bug by growing your own food or flowers. They’ll love seeing their seedlings grow each day!