September 30 is Worldwide Day of Play! SPARK is proud to be a participating children's museum in this international day of play with Nickelodeon and ACM. We're encouraging you to get outside to learn and play today! Go on a hike, go to the park, or walk through your neighborhood! While outside, keep your eyes open and see what you can find and learn about today. Below is a BINGO card you can take with you and see what you encounter. There are prizes and membership discounts for some BINGOs, so take a look!
Benefits of Play
When your child is set free to explore their curiosities and find answers to questions, they are learning in their own way. Structured learning environments will teach information in a specific way, but each child has their own unique learning style. Play is essential because it allows a child to learn in the way that is meaningful to them and learn at their own pace.
Watch your child engage in independent play and see how they pull tools into their play; what they use as a substitute for an object or what they want to pretend play from real life. When you were little, a phone might have been a banana or arched piece of wood, something resembling a phone at the time. Today, a phone might be a rectangle block or pad of paper. Phones have changed in look and function so what you might envision as a pretend phone is not what your child would. Step back and see how they view their world and what is important to them to replicate. Do you often cook with a specific utensil? Are you always reaching for a certain rubber spatula or spoon? Your child may want that same exact tool in their play as they pretend what they see in their world.
Do you experience a lot of, “Why?” Instead of fumbling through an explanation, followed by another, “Why?” try, “Let’s find out!”. You can create a pretend play setting, science experiment, head outside and look, whatever you need to answer their why. That one question, "Why?", isn’t very specific. Take cookies for example: your child could be wondering why the cookie dough started as powder and you could be explaining how the heat turns the dough into a cookie. That will miss their wonder completely and leave them with more questions. However, if you make a batch of cookies they will see the entire process and form their own conclusions and you can answer their questions as you go.
Active learning is what will support a child in their learning process. They will develop their understanding of how the world works and that understanding will grow as they do. Allowing your child to learn through play and exploration will support their lifelong learning by giving them the tools they need to answer their questions independently and seek new information. You can always tell them an answer and hope it sticks, or you can provide them with the opportunity to have their own lightbulb moment and remember it forever.
Getting outside for a walk or with toys to play provides limitless opportunities for learning like experiences with gravity, watching leaves fall, or wind, and watching dried grass travel through the air. Children can find habitats for ducks or ants to see how they work in their environment just by observing where they walk, what they carry, and how they interact with one another. It is one thing to see a picture of an ant in a book and another to watch them walk from point A to B. These real-world learning opportunities cannot be replicated and occur naturally just by stepping out your door.
Supporting your child in going outside and playing pretend with natural objects or giving them a magnifying glass to investigate will create learning opportunities different than what you can offer inside. The light is different, the air temperature isn’t controlled, and the weather can change quickly. All these experiences provide your child with real-time information about the world for them to categorize and understand. Are they watching a family of ducks swim across the pond and then it starts sprinkling? What do they do then? Does their plan change? Or when getting out the magnifying glass, how does a leaf look different up close and far away or in the sun compared to the shade? Let your child wander and see what learning opportunities they stumble across.
Questions that can’t be answered independently are an opportunity for using technology intentionally. If your child is wondering what happens in a different season or what it looks like inside that really high nest, you can pull up a video or pictures online that complement what they are seeing in person. Technology can enhance learning opportunities, especially in life that is unpredictable and uncontrollable. How can you support your child’s questions the next time you are at the park with a video example or time lapse for different seasons?
No matter how you are playing and learning, get outside and see what you can find! Use this BINGO card to guide your exploration while you play. SPARK has prizes for different accomplishments. The front has pictures for your child to find and the back has the descriptions if it is hard to tell what you are looking for. Get outside and start exploring! SPARK is always available for wonderful indoor learning, but what will you learn outside today?
Park BINGO Cards
Bring in your BINGO card with two or more BINGOs between September 26 - 30, 2023 to receive $15 off a family membership - new or renewal - so you can play, learn, and discover all year round.
BINGO Card Front and Back