A child's brain grows rapidly during his or her first year of life and continues honing its connections, memories, and skills throughout childhood. Kids sometimes have trouble sitting still while learning and often have short attention spans that make it difficult for them to engage in a single activity for a long period of time. Children learn through doing things, and these four interactive experiences will be enjoyable for both you and your child.
Exploring a Museum
Consider exploring a museum on a cold or rainy day. There are museums on all sorts of topics, from art museums such as the Detroit Art Institute to science museums such as the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Museums operated by the federal government have no admission fee. You could also purchase a family membership to the closest children's museum. Places such as the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio, feature multiple levels of interactive learning experiences for kids of all ages. Look for museums that offer hands-on science experiments, places to walk, jump, and crawl through, and interesting things to touch and do. Be sure to check the museum's schedule before you go. Many offer a daily special activity, lecture, or performance. Some children's museums also include movie theaters and guided tours.
Visiting an Aquarium
Visiting a professional aquarium is a wonderful way to encourage learning. Your child can look at the different colors, shapes, and sizes of fish. You can stop and listen to the docents describe what different sea creatures eat and where they live. Many aquariums offer a touching tank or interactive exhibits where kids can touch the shell of a turtle or the arms of a starfish. Consider timing your visit to an aquarium to coincide with special events such as when they feed the sharks or penguins.
Going to the Library
A visit to your local library is another enjoyable and interactive learning experience for your child. Growing brains can participate in an interactive storytime that involves listening to a short story, putting up pieces on a felt board, clapping and singing during a song. Many libraries have dedicated children's sections with learning toys such as puzzles, felt letters or magnetic numbers. Kids can also walk through the shelves of books and choose a few to borrow and take home. This allows the learning experience to continue for days.
Walking in a Park
If your area has a national or state park, these places offer incredible opportunities to learn about geography, animals, the water cycle, plants and the environment. Guides at the parks often provide families and groups with guided tours on trails that are easy for even young children to navigate. These parks also have visitor's centers with interactive exhibits. Closer to home, look into your metropolitan and city parks. Some communities offer free children's programs on topics such as owls or crickets that include a walk through the places in the park where these animals live. Even if you do not have access to these places, a walk through your community park can be a great learning experience. Point out the birds' nests, check out the different types of trees and their leaves and scope out animal tracks and guess who made them.
This set of four activities includes things that you can do every day of the week as well as special trips that you can take with your child. Fostering a sense of curiosity and encouraging your child to learn will set your youngster up for a lifetime of educational success. Spending this quality time with your child will also help to make lasting memories for both of you.