Great activities build your child's confidence in expanding an idea or theme.
Making a tent with sheets will change the way your child looks at space. The walls and rooms in your house are static. You can't move a wall or change the size of a room from one day to the next. Your child is very aware of this fact because children love to explore spaces and test limits.
One of the reasons your child will love the concept of making a tent with sheets is that it transforms space. It creates a new place for your child to go. She will naturally assume ownership of this space because:
- It's just her size
- She helped make it in the first place
- She'll find it necessary to make repairs
How do you make a tent with sheets? Pretty simple-just drape a sheet over the back (or side) of a couch. Now pull the sheet taut to the floor and secure it with a stack of books on the two corners and in the middle. What does a repair consist of? Usually the tent will begin to sag, and repairing it merely requires pulling it taut again.
Now with your tent in place, consider the following activities:
Campsite reading hour: there is hardly a better sanctuary than Saturday afternoon story time in the tent with a few pillows and your child's favorite books. This should be nothing short of delightful for both you and your child. Make it even better with a bowl of healthy finger food and a juice box. A twist on this activity: in the evening turn reading hour into a campsite beneath the stars. This simply involves reading in the tent by flashlight. Alternatively, use a battery operated globe light to remove the burden of holding up the flashlight. This activity combines the wonder of reading with the fascination of a campsite. There is hardly a better way to enrich your child's esteem for story books.
Camp out in the tent as if you were in the wilderness. This activity might just take first prize among your child's favorite things to do. The part your child will like the best is finding food. There are two ways to do this: fishing or fruit gathering (or both). Fishing: cut out construction paper fish-five or ten is plenty. Tape a small magnet to each fish. Now make a fishing pole: tie a string to a stick and attach a magnet to the end of the string. Have a pan, paper plates and utensils in the tent. Spread the fish around the living room floor. Now, while you are back in the tent exchanging hiking stories, one of you gets hungry and it's time for your child to go fishing. “Cook” the fish in the pan and “eat” them. Exchange adventure stories about the wilderness while eating. Fruit gathering: cut out construction paper berries and fruit. Place them in moderately hard to find areas and go on a berry gathering expedition. Use small buckets to gather the berries, then return to campsite and enjoy your meal and adventure stories.
Make two tents-one for you and one for your child. Position your tent on the other side of the living room or in another room. Make a very basic river using whatever you have on hand- books or sheets of construction paper, etc. The river should be located somewhere in the middle of the two tents. “Meet” your child while on a food gathering expedition. Here is your dilemma: you are not allowed to cross the river, but you have not found any food to bring back to your village. Ask your child if there are any berries on her side of the river that she is willing to share. Allow her to hand you berries across the river to add to your bucket. Is she willing to give you all the berries from her side of the river, or will she want to save some for her village? What are her village's secrets for growing so many berries? Expand on the concept of the river as a boundary. Work together to make a bridge. Simulate sleep, then wake up to find the bridge ravaged by storms. Your child will never tire of rebuilding the bridge.
In sum: tent activities nurture your child's imagination and expand her concept of spaces and places. They are easy to set up and take down, and they offer countless variations that your child will enjoy again and again. Give your child a learning opportunity like no other: make a tent.
Anthony Vecchioni runs http://spaghettiboxkids.com - a parenting site that offers specific strategies, tips and activities to enhance child learning. Read more About Anthony Vecchioni.