Keeping Kids Occupied with Mind Games
Child expert Wendy Toone offers fun ways to expand your child's mind during the dog days of summer.
We may be knee deep in those lazy, hazy days of summer, but that doesn't mean we still can't keep our kids active with challenging games and activities that will keep their minds buzzing. In fact, here are some great rainy day and car ride activities that will challenge your kids to think on their feet!
1. Mind games can keep boredom away as well as physical activity. Even small children can follow an adjusted version of "I Spy." Just be sure that the clues are age appropriate and not too tricky. Look for easy to spot shapes, bright colors, or unique characteristics (animals, common objects such as pencils, etc.). Remember to let them give you the clues, too, to really work their brains. Finding an object is different than coming up with a clue for an object.
2. Once your child is a little older, around 4 years or so, theme games can be played. A favorite (still) of my kids is the animal game. "I Spy"-like clues can be given, but your child must rely on their memory and knowledge of animals instead of looking for pictures or representations of them. These types of games are great for long car rides, and you can make them more challenging, as your children get older. Go in order through the alphabet..."I have a long nose and tongue" = Aardvark (or anteater, both will work in this case); "I'm totally white and live in the cold" = Beluga whale. Get it?
3. READ, READ, READ. Reading to your child, no matter how young, increases their vocabulary, imagination, and overall cognitive abilities. Hearing language creates synapses - the connection of brain cells. Most of us parents think that reading at bedtime is sufficient. And while bedtime stories create a wonderful bonding time between parent and child, so can reading a story with your child snuggled on your lap in a waiting room. Granted, you can't be expected to tote a small library around with you at all times. But if you know your day will include a little waiting time, why not pop your child's favorite book in the day bag. Or maybe a story you haven't yet read to them? Or take advantage of digital children's books that can be downloaded to your cell phone or iPod? These digital books can do double duty, as oftentimes they are books that are enhanced with narration (sometimes even music and sound effects are added), so your little one can hear the book as they see the words on your phone or iPod screen.
So the next time you find yourself exasperated trying to tame the savage beast that is a toddler with nothing to do, try a few of these tips. Not all of them will work at all times or in every situation. But hopefully if nothing else, it will spark your creativity to engage your child and use your waiting time as teaching time. For there is no better teacher for a child than his or her own parent. Good luck!!!
Wendy Toone is a child expert having owned and operated a leading franchise children's fitness center and now producing MobiStories, Digital Books for KidsTM, as well as being a mom to her two children. To experience the world of digital children's picture books, visit www.mobistories.com.
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