Learning While Playing
Children love to be creative and it is important to encourage them to use their imaginations. Their little brains are still growing and need to be stimulated. Doing projects with them can be a great learning experience for them because they not only have to think and follow directions but they also have to have some hand/eye coordination.
Doing crafts that involve drawing and cutting will help them develop their dexterity for learning to write and cut things out at school later on when they are older. Doing simple projects such as pressing their hands into finger paints and making prints on paper gives them tactile stimulation and instills the creative imagination for future projects.
Taking a walk in the woods and using the time to teach children about trees, plants and any wildlife encountered is a very enjoyable experience for everyone involved and it also helps to be an outlet for their abundant energy. What a great way to ensure that everyone is ready to sleep at bedtime, including mom and dad!
Children Thrive In Structured Environments
Having play times and special project times are really good for your children because the structure helps their behavior. Anyone with young children knows that when you throw them off of their normal routines they can become quite cranky. Some children can become nightmares to deal with when they are taken out of normal routines.
Conversely, giving children structured projects and keeping to a routine will help them overcome behavioral issues or prevent them to begin with. Use coloring to help teach children their basic colors and develop coordination as they learn to color within the lines.
Using modeling clays and things made just for children, like Playdough, can give them learning opportunities in three dimensional creativity. Use many types of materials so that you can expose them to different textures and colors. The more you create with your children, the more you stimulate their minds. This is shown to increase IQ later on and make transitioning to school much easier.
Keep Things Safe
Remember that children should always be supervised when doing projects. Be sure to use non-toxic paints, glues and decoration that can be swallowed. I am positive this is the reason that we glued macaroni pictures in elementary school. Who ever died from eating raw macaroni?
Use safety scissors, crayons instead of pencils with sharp leads and don't let children handle hot glue guns, irons or any other things that could be of any potential danger. Remember that with children, it should always be assumed that they will find a way to injure themselves or someone else. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best at all times.
Communicate with the children about the rules of each project. Challenge them to pay attention and follow rules. Do not compare anyone's project to one that belongs to another. Give them all kudos and strictly keep things fun. It doesn't matter if they are coloring in the lines right now; all that matters is that they are having fun.