I am SUPER excited to bring you Kids Play Space’s contribution to an amazing series coordinated by The Inspired Treehouse: Brain Boosters: Active Learning Games for Kids! It is all about getting kids moving and playing actively, rather than being stuck at the desk. We are so fortunate to live only a short walk from the beach here in Melbourne, Australia, so it seemed only right for this activity to be beach based: Active Learning with NUMBERS at the BEACH! Check out all the possibilities below for easy, fun and ACTIVE learning for children of different ages and stages, with just a few homemade dice…
To start: Preparing a few dice took absolutely no art skill whatsoever! First, I (roughly) covered some old teabag boxes from our recycling bin. I added the numbers 1-6 on one, and 7-12 on another. Then, I did the most basic stick figure drawings in the world, in brightly coloured crayons, each indicating a different kind of (animal) ‘walk’. Kangaroo jumps, monkey hops, dinosaur stomps, crab sideways walks, fairy tip toe walks, bear walks (hands/feet), puppy dog walks (hands/knees), snake (commando) crawls, frog jumps, etc…
The sand at the beach is such a rich sensory material – one of our favourites! The tactile sensory input provides strong feedback about the environment and the body’s position in space. Active movement at the beach coupled with the theme of ‘numbers’ makes for some powerful mathematical learning. That is, learning by doing; building on motor memory. Bottom line – active learning is quality learning, without so much as a desk in sight!
Play idea 1: Throw the number dice and make X number of hand/foot/finger prints, marks or sand castles/shapes in the sand.
Play idea 2: Throw the number dice and collect X number of beach related items (shells, rocks, seaweed bits, …) Perhaps a separate dice could be made with those particular items on it.
Play idea 3: Throw the number dice and write that number with the ‘drawing hand’. Variations include: making dice with other numbers or even with (tricky) letters. This is wonderful number and letter formation practise, reinforcing efficient writing skills.
Play idea 4: Throw the number and (animal) walk dice, and take X number of steps in the manner drawn. Variations could include using pictures, stickers, or words of how the numbers (or letters) can be drawn. For example: ‘things that go’ (train, plane, car, tractor, helicopter, ….), superheroes (Spiderman, Superman, Batman…), directions (forward, backwards, sideways to the left/right, fast, slow), animals, insects, dance moves…
These movement ideas alone are wonderful motor planning challenges, but even more so on the beach, with the unique uneven nature of the sand surface. They reinforce body awareness through touch, proprioception and movement sensory input, and are perfect for developing children’s strength, coordination and balance. It is actually quite a task working out how to position and move the body along the particular path of the number/letter. When it comes time to then write these numbers/letters with a pencil and paper, the idea of how to form them is established in the motor memory. All thanks to active learning.
Play idea 5: Throw the number dice and an extra dice with a mathematical direction (For example: + , x , – , …) making equations to be solved and drawn in the sand. (ie. making whichever kinds of dice might fit the learning needs of the moment).
Play idea 6: Throw whichever combination of dice, then ‘follow the leader’, so everyone has to do the same!
Play idea 7: Throw the dice or forget the dice altogether, and draw with fingers, feet/walking, or with a stick… perhaps randomly as you walk along the shoreline. It could be fun to draw in the wet sand quickly before the waves wash them away!
Play idea 8: Someone draws a number or equation in the wet sand near the water just before the waves wash it away, and the other person has to answer it before it has faded (or after it has faded, further testing their memory).
Play idea 9: One person lightly covers their hand with sand, whilst another person throws the dice or thinks of a number/letter to draw on top, exposing the skin in the shape of the number/letter.
Play idea 10: Person A throws the dice or thinks of a number/letter to draw in the sand using person B’s hand/finger. Variation: person B closes their eyes and tries to guess the number/letter drawn.
And finally, be sure to check out all the other AMAZING brain boosting, active learning games for kids prepared by my talented blogging colleagues!
Thanks for stopping by Kids Play Space!