Whether you’re a teacher, a parent, a tutor, or a home school educator, you know that the basic “building blocks” of important skills in language, reading, math, and even history and science are often laid down before the age of 10. However, as parents and teachers, we know that some of the best teaching happens when kids are having so much fun that they don’t even know they’re learning. Here are some fun activities to help kids under 10 learn important basics.
Math Fun for Everyone
Lots of kids have the idea that math is boring or hard. When you’re teaching your kids through fun activities, it’s important that you don’t frame your activities as study. Instead, explain that you’re going to spend the day by playing some fun games.
One of the best methods to teach the concept of adding positive and negative numbers is a game called “Fuzzballs Go to the Dance.” All you need are about 20 craft store fuzzballs in two different colors such as black and red. Assign one color to stand for negative numbers and the other color to stand for positive numbers.
Set up a problem such as -5 + 7. Tell your child to line up five of the “negative” fuzzballs and seven “positive” fuzzballs on either side of a line, two by two. Each fuzzball with a partner on the other side of the line gets to go to the “dance.” (At this point, it’s fun to have the fuzzballs dance with each other.) Explain that when the fuzzballs go dancing, there might be some left without anyone to go with. (In our example problem, there are two positive fuzzballs left over, so the solution is “2.”)
Give your child more problems with the dancing fuzzballs. Over time, your child will easily internalize the idea that adding negative and positive numbers is mostly a matter of finding the difference between those two integers. Understanding this concept makes algebra much easier.
Chemistry has an amazing array of activities kids love. For instance, if your child loves chemical reactions and phase changes, they'll be fascinated to see what happens when you drop a tube of mint candies into a liter of diet soda. The mint candies will cause the CO2 in the soda to form gas bubbles -- and fast! Be sure to back up quickly. Turned into gas, the escaping CO2 in the bottle will cause what amounts to an explosive geyser of soda. Pro tip: Do this outside.
For budding biologists, it’s fun just to go on a nature walk around your neighborhood or park. An easy activity to teach observation of nature is a scavenger hunt. A scavenger hunt works even better when kids can compete against each other in competitive teams to find specific types of flora or rocks. For example, a list might read, “Find a leaf of an oak tree,” or “Find a sample of rose quartz.” The winner can get an awesome nature-related prize like a perfect bird feather or seashell.
History is Happening
There’s nothing like stories, art, and dressing up to teach about history. For instance, if you’re teaching ancient Roman history, begin by reading the myth of Romulus and Remus, the two battling brothers who were raised by wolves and grew up to found the city of Rome. You can have your kids draw pictures of Romulus and Remus, dress up as Romulus to build a Roman wall out of shoe boxes, or dress like Remus and try to (gently!) knock it down. You can even dress the family dog up as a member of the wolf pack. Pro tip: Make sure you have a very patient dog.
Even though your Romulus and Remus game might get silly (and probably should), this play-acting makes the story of the founding of Rome come alive for your child. Even better, through their imaginative play, your child can become those figures they’re reading about and understand their rivalry and ambition through their pretend play. Connecting with others through empathy and imagination is a great way to expand a child’s world.
Ultimately, whether you’re teaching math principles, science concepts, historical tales, or any other topic, don't frame your activities as study when there’s almost always a way to make it fun. Songs, art, play, and hands-on demonstrations are great places to begin making kids interested in school subjects even without realizing they’re learning.
SoaPen is the perfect way to teach handwashing steps and hygiene in a fun way! Check out our articles on games to play with kids and SoaPen:
The Telegraph | Half of children find science and maths too difficult or too boring
Private Tutoring At Home | 6 Best Summer Math Activities: How to Stay Smart & Have Fun
Kiwi Co. | 10 Simple Chemistry Experiments for Kids
Common Sense Media | Totally Non-Boring Ways to Teach History to Kids