Learning Is Everywhere
In the Living Room!
Lots of fun ideas and activities for families!
Each month offers activities families can do together in a variety of settings. The activities within the Learning is Everywhere Calendar and on the website are aligned with the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards (ELS).
These guidelines can be used to determine what infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergartners may know or be able to do within specific age ranges.
Find the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standard referenced after each activity.
Activities for Infants:
Put on a music CD, or sing a nursery rhyme and help your baby clap her hands, wiggle her feet, bicycle her legs. Show your baby how you clap hands, wriggle fingers, twirl, and bob up and down. (Health, Wellness and Physical Development)
With your baby laying down, or sitting safely in an infant seat, use an open, unfolded newspaper page to “hide” behind. Peek out from behind the newspaper page at different places (such as the left side, then the top) so she can look for you each time. Say the same phrase each time you peek out, like “Here is Daddy!” or “Grandma has a surprise for you!” See if she anticipates where you will come from next, or if she looks for you to appear. (Creative Thinking and Expression)
Activities for Toddlers:
Action games keep toddlers busy while they are learning to move and follow directions. Simon Says is a simple game where you use commands such as ‘Simon says, clap your hands’ and give time for your toddler to follow. Encourage your child when he follows correctly. (Social & Emotional Development)
Save clean containers of all shapes and sizes, like yogurt containers, margarine tubs, plastic spice jars, for your toddler to play with. (Make sure each is washed before your toddler uses it.) Talk about which ones are big, and which are little. Encourage her to put the small container inside the big container, or to add items (like blocks) into the containers. Talk about when the items are in and when the items are out of the containers. Let her practice putting the lids on and taking them off. (Approaches to Learning through Play)
Using music on the radio, CDs or tapes from the library or your home collection, dance with your toddler using your entire body. Using the beat of the music, show him how to reach for the sky, or wiggle like a worm. Encourage him to use different body parts, like fingers or feet, in a dance. (Health, Wellness and Physical Development)
Activities for Preschoolers:
Low-adhesive tape, like masking or painter’s tape, can be used to make a road map in the living room. Working with your preschooler, ask her where the roads should go. Will they go over a sofa? Under a table? Behind a chair? Once created, she can use toy vehicles, dolls or toy animals to follow the roads. Ask her where the roads lead and what she will find at the end. (Creative Thinking and Expression)
With magazines or newspapers, your preschooler can choose a theme, like animals or food. Then, using safety scissors, encourage him to look through the magazines or newspapers to find and cut out pictures that fit into the selected theme. Talk about why certain items fit into the theme, and why others do not. Once the pictures are cut out, have him choose a few of his favorites to paste or glue onto a piece of paper that he can keep. (Approaches to Learning through Play)
Use a paper lunch bag to make a puppet. Turn the lunch bag upside down so that the bottom of the bag becomes the top of the puppet. Use the flap for the face, have your preschooler draw a face with crayons or markers, and talk about what the puppet might be and what it might do. Once she has finished creating the puppet, have her put her hand inside and use her hand to make the puppet talk. What does it say? (Creating Thinking and Expression) Check out PA’s Promise for Children’s Pinterest Board, Feelin’ Crafty for more puppet ideas!
Activities for Kindergarten:
Have your kindergartner take inventory of your living room. Using a magazine or newspaper and safety scissors, have him cut out different letters of the alphabet. Then match the letter to the items (C for Chair, S for Shelves, B for Books, and so on). For any leftover letters (like X or Z), talk about what could be put into the living room that would begin with those letters (like zebras!) and ask his opinion about having that item in the living room. Does he think it would be a good idea? Would it fit into the living room? (Language and Literacy Development: Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening)
Share with your kindergartner a measuring tape and show her the numbers. Have her measure different items in the living room and ask questions about the sizes of the different items. How tall is the coffee table? Is it taller than the chair? Which is smaller — a book or a picture frame? How does she know which is smaller? (Mathematics Thinking and Expression)
Using a music CD, or singing a song, have your kindergartner act out the song using his entire body. Include songs with a different theme (such as Wheels on the Bus) where he can be different parts (like the wheels), or songs about animals (such as The Bear Went Over the Mountain) and he can do what he thinks the animal would do. Or take a song that typically includes finger play (such as The Itsy-Bitsy Spider) and have him act it out using his entire body. (Health, Wellness and Physical Development)
Keeping Your Child’s Food Safe to Eat
You take the time to pack your child healthy lunch or snack for Kindergarten or early learning program, so keep it safe to eat. Use these tips to make sure you child stays healthy and engaged by protecting them from food-borne illness.
- Pack with care. Know which foods should be kept at certain temperatures. Foods that are non-perishable (
- whole fruits and vegetables
- hard cheese
- unopened canned meat and fish
- breads and crackers
- peanut butter, jelly, mustard
- Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Use an insulated lunch bag and a cold pack or frozen juice box or water bottle for cold foods, and an insulated thermos to keep hot food hot.
- Throw out uneaten perishable foods. If your child did not eat a perishable food, but it’s still in a lunchbox at the end of the day, throw it out.
- Let staff know about food allergies. If you child has food allergies, let the school or early learning staff know about the allergies and what to do if there’s an accidental exposure.
Check out these resources for more information!
- The Lunch Box: Safe Lunches for Preschool Children (U.C. Davis)
- Safe School Lunch Boxes (Home Food Safety)
- Pack a Safe Lunch 101 (Partnership for Food Safety Education)
- Yummy Tummy: Keeping it nutritious and delicious when feeding a baby, toddler, preschooler or kindergartner. (PA’s Promise for Children Pinterest Board)
There may be a “monster” in your living room!
Did you guess that it was right in front of your eyes? It’s your television! Spending time watching television means that your child may not be engaged in creative or learning activities–such as reading, playing or just being a kid.
Many households have one or more televisions in their home, and all too often, a child’s free time may center around what’s playing on television. While there may be worthwhile programs on television and videos, watching excessive, or inappropriate television can lead to violent and aggressive behavior, obesity, poor body concept and self-image, and later, substance abuse and early sexual activity. The following tips can help families tame the television monster and take control of their household’s television habits.
- Know what your child is watching. Television shows and videos contain a rating system which indicates the targeted age for a child. However, each child is different. You should decide if a show or video is appropriate for your child. Sit with your child while watching a television show or video and watch how your child reacts. Does your child become fearful or overly excitable while watching? This may be a sign that this is not a good match for your child. Talk with your child about what you both saw in the show or video. Your child’s perception of what occurred may be very different from your own perception.
- Place clear limits on television viewing. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two not be allowed to watch television. They also suggest limiting the time older children spend watching. Try to be positive in your messaging. Instead of saying “You can’t watch TV”, say, “Let’s turn off the TV so we can……”.
- Be aware of commercials. Be alert to commercials that are not appropriate for young children. Many commercials offer a great opportunity for you to discuss the products. Children may think they need to have many products that are advertised. The younger children learn the concept of needs versus wants, the better for themselves and your family.
- Keep the television off during meals. Mealtime is a great opportunity for family conversation. Everyone can talk about their day, or each day, a family member can select a topic for dinner. Involve children in household activities and meal preparation. Even toddlers can help to set the table!
- Designate certain days of the week as “TV Free Days”. Replace the time your family spends watching television with activities that involve the entire family, like playing a game, reading a favorite book, learning a new hobby, or creating a new craft. Look for free or low-cost family activities within your community, such at your local library or community center. For those times at home, put on some music and dance!
- Don’t worry if your children complain they are bored. Boredom often leads to creativity and physically active play. When children have opportunities to find something to do on their own, they will be learning problem solving, and will develop habits for a lifetime.
- Be a positive role model by being physically active and cutting down on television time. Show your child how you like to spend your free time through reading, doing a hobby or creating a craft item.
Sharing time with your child, doing activities to engage both the mind and the body, will help build a child who has the skills to learn and grow.
Print this book list! (pdf)
September Songs & Nursery Rhymes
You don’t have to audition for American Idol to sing with your child! Many children love being engaged through music and songs. They may love hearing the repeated sounds and words as you sing a song together. Although some nursery rhymes may have planned movements that go along with the song, don’t be afraid to make up your own movements that fits best with your child’s development.
Visit your local library for CDs with the music!
I’m a Little Teapot
In a Cabin in the Woods
The Bus Song (The Wheels on the Bus)
Hey Diddle Diddle
Days of the Week
What’s YOUR Story?
You know you have a story to tell about what quality education has done for your child, your family or your community–We want to hear it!
Tell about your child’s favorite PA Pre-K Counts, Head Start or Keystone STAR teacher, administrator, or classroom. Share all the great things your child has learned by participating in a quality early learning classroom. Let everyone know how important it is for your family to have access to quality early learning!