This lunch time learning play idea is brought to you by Melissa & Doug, written by our Blog Ambassador Allison McDonald.
“Everyday play is what childhood should be about.” -Allison
Now that it’s summer one of my favorite parts of the day is lunch when my kids and I can (usually) all come together for a meal and a chance to regroup. We are all together and it’s the perfect time to add in a little learning before heading back outside. A great way to learn at the lunch table that won’t make your kids give you that look of “It’s my break from school remember?” are Melissa & Doug Learning Mats.
Here are a few ways I use them at lunch time and other times of the day.
- Place them in the middle of the table in a pile. Call kids to lunch and tell them they have to pick their mat and crayons. I set out fruit or veggies and they color and write while I finish up the rest of their lunch. They nibble on the healthy stuff while feeding their minds.
- Play restaurant at home and use them as the kids menus that kids get to color at restaurants. My kids love this. They really get into them when they are part of a pretend play scenario.
- Use the mats with books. The Advanced Subject Learning Mats have space, geography and history themes and match perfectly with non fiction books about the subjects.
- Playdough mats. I love using the learning mats for playdough play too. We play games with the maps and try to shape the playdough into the shape of countries and states. It’s great for fine motor development and geography learning. This is a good way of doing one activity with kids at different developmental levels. My daughter who just turned three can do it happily and so can her almost 7 year old brother.
- Play 20 questions. We do this with the Presidents mat a lot. Choose a president and everyone has to guess which one it is. It’s such a simple game but really gets your kids familiar with a little American history.
- I spy. Another simple game that can be used with the simpler mats for preschoolers or even more advanced ones. I can be making dinner and say “I spy Neptune!” and have my kids point it out on the mat at the table.
- Just let your kids color them, make mustaches on the Presidents, make Mars polka dotted and use the Learning Mat Crayons to work on fine motor skills.
Allison McDonald is founder and editor of No Time For Flash Cards. She has been teaching children in various capacities since 1993, so she has done her share of crafts, songs and circle times! Her son’s birth brought her home, and her love of teaching and helping other parents sparked the idea for No Time for Flash Cards. Early-childhood education is her passion . . . her heart belongs to the little guys! Get to know Allie and see her creative kids’ crafts and educational activities on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest
This post was created for our Summer Fun Calendar series. Click for more info.