As a mother of three children, Amanda Morin of Bangor, Maine (pop. 32,817), understands the challenges of keeping kids occupied after school.
An author and editor, Morin says it was tempting to plant her kids (now spread between toddler age and teen) in front of the TV so she could finish her work or prepare the family’s dinner without interruption. Instead, she developed more than 100 entertaining and educational games to keep them busy and engaged.
Here are five activities from her newest book, “The Everything Kids’ Learning Activities Book,” published in July.
Muffin Tin Money Match—For younger children, place a penny, nickel, dime and quarter in the bottoms of muffin cups. Provide them each with handfuls of change to sort according to what they see in the cups. For slightly older kids, write a variety of cent values on the bottoms of muffin tin liners and ask them to use their coins to create the amounts. For still older children, create money word problems on index cards, roll them up and put them in the muffin cups; then ask the kids to solve the problems and place the right amount of money in the cups.
Comic Strip Sequencing—Cut out or copy a number of comic strips with stories that are easily discernible from the pictures. Cut each strip into the individual squares, mix them up and place in an envelope. Ask your child to put the story back in order using the pictures or the words. Then ask your child to tell you the story, or write it down in his own words.
Snack Patterns and Sorting—Provide your child with a pattern-friendly snack, such as trail or snack mix, along with a plate and a few plastic cups. Ask her to sort her snack into the cups, using whatever characteristics make sense. (For example, shape, color, size or taste.) Once the snack is sorted, ask her to create a pattern on the plate. When she finishes, she’ll have something she created to eat!
Teach Me How—Ask your child to think of something he does everyday, such as brushing his teeth. Instruct him to write (or for younger children, draw) step-by-step directions to teach an alien species how to perform that task. Then, follow his completed directions exactly as written (or drawn) to see how well he conveyed his message.