We love activities that are fun and at the same time build the skills that kids need to do well at school.
To succeed at school, kids need these solid foundational skills - and the good news is that they can all be developed through play during the school holidays.
And you can do them all at home when kids have watched too much TV or when it's a rainy day. What's more they are mostly free and you can use the bricks and other toys that you already have at home. They are family friendly and form part of plain good school holiday fun.
What are the skills kids need for school success?
If kids have these skills they will cope with most schoolwork:
- The ability to cross the mid-line: this ensures that they can do tasks with both hands such as tying their shoelaces. They will also be able to read full sentences until the end of the line and move along to the next line.
- They need to be able to build patterns so that they do well at maths and reading.
- Fine motor skills are important so that they hold a pen well and form letters and numbers.
- Problem-solving and creative thinking help children to focus and persevere until they find the best solutions.
- They also need to be able to communicate and listen to instructions + have short-term memory to recall the instructions.
What are 4 simple school holiday activities that will build these skills?
Children are naturally curious and love learning new things. They enjoy being challenged and having fun.
These activities - that can be repeated as many times as possible - give your child the skills they need for school success. They're also lots of fun and can be played alone or in a group of siblings or friends.
These activities are great for 3-6 year old's and often older kids get involved as well.
School Holiday Activity #1: Identify numbers and letters
Here are some examples:
- As you ride in the car or go for a walk, look for letters and number signs.
- Play games together to call out the numbers and then add them up or subtract them.
- Can your child read the letters or tell you about the letters he cannot read or understand?
- They can even look for numbers or letters and short words that appear on TV shows. Call them out and spell them out.
- Can you find numbers anywhere? When you start looking, you'll be surprised at how many places they appear.
This type of activity fits into your usual family life. It's easy to do at any time - and what a basket of skills it gives your child without opening a single school workbook.
It also builds their confidence in using numbers and letters so that when they are in the school situation, they feel more ready to take on the classroom challenges.
School Holiday Activity #2: Create family portraits
This is a great family or friend activity to do!
- Spill out onto the floor as many bricks, blocks and other smaller toys as possible.
- Think of a person in the family that your child could build. You could even have their photo in front of them.
- Or, if it’s not a family member, it could be a book or TV character.
- Ask your child to create the picture or the person out of the bricks and other objects that they have in front of them.
- You could extend the activity by building your own one and asking your child to guess who it is.
- A group of children can build theirs and guess which person or character has been recreated.
- Ask your child to tell the story of what they built and why it represents that person / character.
- You can include drawing in the activity as well as playdough or any other resources you have available.
It takes about 5 minutes to set up and will give your child at least 20 – 30 minutes of good fun and learning at the same time!
Here’s just some of the skills your child gains by doing this activity:
- Social: They learn to share, listen and talk to others.
- Cognitive: They visualise and think metaphorically.
- Emotional: They reflect on their family and feelings.
- Fine motor skills: They handle and manipulate small and larger bricks.
School Holiday Activity #3: It’s the Brick Float Challenge!
Bricks and some water combine for a great way to learn and have fun at the same time!
Here’s how it works:
- Have a tub or a basin filled with water.
- Use your large or small size bricks to contrast a few models – these can be in any shape or size. No rules apply.
- Now take the models and see if they float!
- You might have to make changes to the model to test out to see if it floats better! Or if it does float, add more bricks on to see if it will float or sink!
- You could even build a bridge for your model to float under.
Here are some of the skills that your child will learn:
- They will need to listen to the instructions and try things out.
- They will have to experiment and think creatively to find a solution that works.
- They will use their fine motor skills to handle the bricks when they are dry and wet.
- They will have to manage their frustration and learn to persevere until they get it right.
- They might also have to ask for help and communicate with you about what they are doing.
And, the good news is that these are the exact skills that kids need to do well at school! They’re learning them by doing a simple, fun school holiday activity without even realising that they are in fact learning at all!
School Holiday Activity #4: Let's do an Alphabet Build
Here’s how it works:
- Ask your child to choose any letter from the alphabet. If they don’t yet know the alphabet, choose a letter for them.
- Place as many toys, bricks and other items as you can around them on the floor or on a table.
- Ask them to re-create the letter of the alphabet from the items to form the shape of the letter.
- When they’re done, give them another letter or even a number to try out as they build the shape.
It’s easy to do PLUS it gives your child these skills:
- Social skills as they communicate about what they are doing.
- Listening skills to absorb the instructions you give them.
- Creative skills to think differently as part of designing their alphabet letter.
- Fine motor skills to manipulate the bricks or their chosen objects.
- Perceptual skills to copy the letter or the number and focus and attention to complete their task.
All of these skills sit at the foundation of being successful at school. In fact, your child will rely on these skills all the way through their school career! Fun activities that equal school success - what more could you ask for?!
Let's Play and Learn through school holiday activities
Yes, you will have to spend some time setting up the educational game for your child. But once they get going, they will be able to move ahead on their own.
Kids don't always need to go to a formal school holiday program when there are so many fun school holiday activities for kids that can be done at home with friends and family.
They're all fun play-based activities that keep kids busy + give them those essential skills they need so that they enter school feeling confident and ready to tackle new challenges.
Our Yay4Play ultimate bundle of educational kits are the ideal place to start. They're more than just a bunch of LEGO bricks. They've got over 100 fun kids’ activities to develop the key skills they need to do well at school.
To download the PDF with the activities, click here.
For more information about play, read our blog on how to build skills for life.