Do you have any moments in your childhood that are deeply etched in your mind even to date? A snippet of mine is the scene in my kindergarten days when my classmates and I would compete to finish our class assignments so that we could zoom off to the playpen to have fun.
As a result of this figment of memory that lingered in my adulthood, I had never underestimated the power of play. I have used them strategically to motivate my students to push harder and persist in practising whatever they are fumbling over.
This is a game I created for my 8-year-old student who was struggling with understanding decimal number lines.
This is a game I created for my 12-year-old student to encourage her to expand her Mandarin vocabulary and use the new words to form sentences.
Unfortunately, many parents with whom I had crossed paths in Singapore ended up indulging their children with excessive toys that led to clutter and incessant demands for even more NEW toys.
When I joined a Facebook group named Flisat Table Simple Set-ups this year, I was really impressed by the efforts that parents in this group put in to educate and engage their children.
I would like to highlight and share some of the awesome ideas that these parents had selflessly shared in the group.
Basic Elements in a Set-up
When we put learning materials such as flashcards and books alongside the child’s favourite toys, it creates a strong association that learning is fun. Hence, a great set-up will always be accompanied by books on the same themes. Parents in the Facebook group often draw their inspiration for the play area from the books that they are reading with their kids.
You can consider playing background music related to the theme of the set-up to enhance the auditory experience of the child. However, do make the effort to hide the mobile device so as not to distract the child.
|Medium of Learning||Flashcards||Books||Animals Figurines||Youtube Videos|
|Skills Development||Expand Vocabulary, Right-brain development||Reading Skills||Interactive play, Role playing, Speaking skills, Fine Motor-skills||Listening Skills|
|Types of Learner||Visual learner||Visual learner||Kinaesthetic learner||Auditory learner|
What makes an Awesome Set-up?
My yardsticks of awesome-ness are based mainly on these 2 criteria:
The problem with toys is that they have a short utility life span as kids outgrow their toys pretty quickly. Therefore, if we can use materials that are dual in purpose to create a play area, it drastically reduces clutter in the house. The set-up below is one of my favourites as it is simple to put together, uses only household items (i.e. Green Kitchen Towels and Drying Rack) and does not require much clean-up.
This set-up inspired me to think about what I can create from the different shades of kitchen towels that are lying in my home.
Are you an informed parent when it comes to shopping for toys for your kids? Do you look out for safety-compliance certificates like CPSIA accreditation before making a purchase?
With the advent of online shopping and proliferations of small independent retailers on websites like Etsy and Amazon, it is so easy for unsafe toys to fall through the crack and reach the homes of consumers. Even the big players can make mistakes like Mattel, the World’s largest toy company, which had to recall 19 million toys sent from China in 2007. How can we ensure that all the smaller retailers in the market are ethical and have the resources to conduct adequate child-safety testing before shipping the toys to your home?
Therefore, I think the onus lies in parents being discerning when choosing appropriate toys for their children.
A simple and ingenious solution to this issue is to simply use Food ingredients such as Pasta, Beans, Flour, Cocoa Powder, Rice and Oats in a play set-up.
You will probably be less worried when your child accidentally swallowed a bean rather than a magnetic ball or plastic bead while playing. While food ingredients are generally a safer alternative, it requires a dose of creativity and enthusiasm for parents to get started.
To inspire you to get started, here are some simple, quick and creative set-ups that captured my imagination, shared by parents in the Facebook group.
Ease of setting up and cleaning
The ease of setting up and cleaning the play area should also not be overlooked, especially if you are a busy parent without any external support. I would strongly advise you to start with the materials you have at home and assemble them together to understand the interest of your kids.
Once you get into the momentum of creating a fun and unique learning environment for them, you can venture out into ideas that will certainly up the Wow factor but take more time to set up and clean up.
These set-ups will probably make your kids shriek with excitement and they could be fantastic ideas reserved only for special occasions if time is a constraint for you.
Found this article useful? Share it with your friends and join the Flisat Table Simple Set Ups Facebook Group for even more ideas! In my experience, the members in this group are really nice and helpful. I am sure you will like it as much as I do.