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This morning was tough. We had a really bumpy start to our day and found ourselves with a few hours at home and nothing to do. I don’t do well being at home with nothing to do. I like to have plans with my kids, activities, friends to see, and places to go.
I am really trying hard to just BE more. To be home with my kids, playing with their toys, just us, together, no plans, no destinations. I think this time at home is really important for children. But it’s hard for me. I’m working on it.
So this morning I found myself at home with my boys with nothing to do and nowhere to go. I was tempted to load everyone in the wagon, call some friends, and go to the park but I resisted the urge. We stayed home all morning and played. I didn’t touch dishes or check my email.
It was wonderful.
My boys are both really into animals right now so we immediately opened up the “animal bin” and started playing pretend. (For the record, I think that plastic animals are one of the best toys and that every child should own some. They’re great for pretend play, talking about science, practicing language, and more.)
After playing pretend for a while, I noticed that Ash was talking a lot about the animals’ homes so we decided to make “habitats” for our animals out of construction paper. Like I mentioned in my Picture Scavenger Hunts post, great learning activities have a few criteria for me, and again, this activity met all of them:
We made these habitats in about 10 minutes, working together, using scrap construction paper, scissors, glue, and crayons. No prep, just gathering some simple art supplies already in our hall closet.
We started by making 5 habitats initially: Desert, Grasslands (Africa), Ocean, Forest, and Lake/Stream/River. We laid out the habitats and Ash pulled out all of his animals, excitedly sorting them among the habitats.
As he sorted he noticed there was not really a habitat for his dinosaurs so we decided to create a special area for extinct animals. He also noticed that the Arctic Fox and Penguin didn’t have anywhere really cold to live so we talked about the word “Tundra” and created a habitat for these creatures.
I love sorting and classifying activities because they develop a child’s:
- mathematical thinking
- observation skills
- ability to notice and talk about similarities and differences between things
- language skills
…and much much more. In addition to all of these benefits, the sorting activity that we did with animals this morning allowed us to cover some science concepts and vocabulary: habitat, tundra, grassland, extinct, predator, prey, food chain, the difference between the forest and rainforest, and more.
When it was time to make lunch, I left the boys to play with their animals for a bit and turned around to this:
All of our lizards lined up, ordered by size. See... I told you plastic animals are great for learning!
We spent a loooong time on this activity and both kids were fully engaged. So much so that the entire setup is still on my living room floor for us to continue tomorrow.
This morning didn’t quite go as planned, but that ended up being a blessing for all of us. We had a lot of fun, only one major meltdown, and played with a ton of science concepts. Meanwhile, I learned that staying home all morning with no plans and nowhere to go isn’t always a bad thing. In fact today it was pretty great.
Looking for some plastic animals? Here are some that we have and play with daily!