Learning Opportunities and the Holiday Season
Updated: Feb 28, 2022
Whether you celebrated Hanukah earlier this month, are eagerly awaiting Christmas or Kwanzaa, or are just curious what learning opportunities holiday traditions may afford, you can find out here from Child Development seniors at the University of New Hampshire: Lauren Soleimani & Callie Mackey guest blogs below!
Holiday Crafts: Creative and Physical development
Children of all ages can partake in this activity, and it can help to bring a family together. It is important to allow children to explore with materials in how they see fit. Encouraging your child to be creative and inventive will lead to further development as they gain confidence in their abilities. Physically, using scissors, gluing, and coloring are all essential parts of early childhood fine motor development. Having supplies available at home can aid children in their exploration of different materials. Another important thing is to talk to your children as you create your crafts. Listen to their ideas and allow them to take the lead in the conversation. Language development is the gateway to literacy. Most importantly have fun!
Merry Christmas - 2021!
The weeks leading up to Christmas offer many opportunities to encourage growth and learning in so many areas for your little ones!
It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year:
The many seasonal activities associated with this time of year, such as baking cookies, writing letters to Santa, and decorating a Christmas tree are wonderful teachable moments! Below are some quick and easy ways to squeeze in a little learning during this busy time of year:
Encourage your child to help you bake!
Encourage your child to use measuring tools - this helps especially young children work on their fine motor skills and control. Using measuring tools often requires counting, and this is another great way to help children develop familiarity with number sequences.
Let your child help you read the recipe - depending on the age of your child their capabilities will vary. For emergent readers this will encourage letter and number recognition and offer an opportunity for you to help them learn new letters and numbers! For your older children, encouraging them to read the recipe provides another opportunity to strengthen their literacy skills!
Writing letters to Santa, or loved ones!
This is the perfect opportunity to encourage your child's phonological awareness - a fancy way to say ‘learning letter sounds’. Have your child sound out the words, and if they spell them wrong, don’t fret! Inventive spelling is celebrated and encouraged as children learn the rules of grammar and phonics.
For younger children, I encourage you to have them write their own letters to Santa or loved ones, even if their words are scribbles. You are laying a foundation for a love and appreciation for writing. But, what is important is to teach children the correct way to hold a pencil and encourage growth in their fine motor skills.
Decorating your Christmas tree!
Challenge your child to count how many ornaments are on your tree! This is a great opportunity to reinforce the concept of one-to-one correspondence, which is the understanding that one object can only count for one number. You can adjust this experience depending on the age of your child. Encourage children to count ornaments of a specific color, shape, etc. This promotes understanding of colors and shapes, along with early numeracy development.
For younger children, hanging ornaments on a Christmas tree is a great experience to strengthen fine and gross motor skills. The act of pinching/holding an ornament, reaching to a branch and successfully hanging it on a tree is great practice for your youngsters!