Activity Suggestions & Parent Story Tips
Stories written by parents (called “parent stories” in Educa) are a meaningful part of a child’s portfolio, the story of a learning journey that will be read to your child many times and valued by you and your child in years to come.
Importantly, as parent you are the world’s expert on your child. Your contributions matter. Your insights are helpful.
While your child’s teachers are writing stories that analyze learning and link to frameworks, that’s their voice, not yours. Yes, your stories can be about learning moments, but that’s not all. You could also create a story about who your child is.
Written to your child. “Jenny, I loved your project today, where you …”
With a focus on the positive.
Capturing A Child’s True Nature
Your stories could be about your child’s personality or character – anecdotes of her doing something that shows how she is or what she is good at, a strength – thoughtful, curious, adventurous, cautious, a fast runner. Your teachers would love to see that as will your daugher in years to come.
Or take a photo or video that shows your child doing something he likes to do, an interest – building, collecting, pretend play, sports. Again, tremendously helpful for teachers, and a valuable contribution to his keepsake portfolio.
It does not have to be an event. While there are literally thousands of parent stories on Educa about family vacations, etc., which are great, the stories your child will most appreciate are the ones about his true self, the child you see. Again with a focus on the positive — strengths, interests or a moment where learning happened.
Being able to capture those magic moments makes Educa such an important tool – for educators and for parents.
Set Up Experiences
Oftentimes, learning just happens. And that’s great. You can create parent stories about what you see.
However, parents can also choose to create opportunities for learning.
And that’s what this article is mostly about. Here is a list of activities that take minimal effort on your part that can lead to valuable learning experiences.
Play With Everyday Objects
You don’t need expensive toys and games to engage young children. Children love sorting and building with commonplace objects you likely have in your home.
Called loose parts in education, these objects have no directions or purpose. Giving children access to safe, loose parts is all that is necessary for this “lesson.” Objects can be small or large, from a button to a cardboard box “space shuttle.”
Examples of items you likely have lying around the house include:
- Bottle caps
- Clean recycled containers
- Plastic spoons
Do Your Chores!
Children learn through observation. Simple household tasks easily become learning experiences! Including your child as a “helper” means a lot to them, and provides an ideal setting for learning.
Rethink your “to-do list” to include your child. Examples include:
- Folding and sorting laundry
- Washing dishes with bubbly soap
- Dusting with a feather duster
- Watering plants
Nature is a wonderful classroom for your young child. Messy and muddy play, even better! A visit to a park or a jaunt in your backyard provides children with endless learning opportunities. Consider the following ideas when exploring mother nature:
- Scavenger hunts for specific items, ie. grass or sticks
- Exploration of textures such as tree bark, dirt, and concrete
- Take a “micro hike” and explore one small patch of grass from a bug’s perspective
- Hide and seek
- Messy play examples here
Children love to create art, but more importantly, they love to explore art materials. For many young children, the experience of making art is more important than the finished product. Give your child a chance to explore texture, color, and pattern using whatever art materials you have in your home.
- Exploration of textures with clay, paint, sandpaper, or wax crayons
- Sculpture from natural materials, empty plastic containers, yarn, and rubber bands
- Paper folding
And remember, your recycling bin can be a treasure trove of sculpture materials!
Use Your Five Senses
Although you may not have a water table or a sandbox in your home, you likely have a plastic container you can fill with water.
- Ice Play- watch it disappear in warm water
- Mixing colored water in cups (use non-toxic food coloring)
- Hiding small objects in flour or excavating in a flour construction site
- Slime play
- Homemade playdough fun- Check out our favorite recipe here:
Writing Parent Stories in Educa
It is easy to write parent stories on Educa and record all this great learning at home!
If you are using a browser, click “Create parent story” on your child’s portfolio and follow these parent story instructions.
A parent story might include text and images as is shown here.
Or it could be a few images.
Or it could be a video.
Two last pieces of advice.
(1) Remember, parent stories are written to be read, including to your child, so keep it simple.
(2) The story does not have to be a masterpiece. When it’s ready, post it. Just do it. Posting in the now has real value.