“Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” Fred Rogers
Outdoor play time is an important part of our day. Here in the South Carolina Lowcountry, the weather in April typically means we spend more of our day outside playing and learning. Lucky for us, there is no better classroom for children than what nature has to offer!
Our neighborhood has several wonderful playgrounds and all are within walking distance of our home. Because of these options, the children often have a playground preference. Each offers something unique — a train structure, spring riders, butterfly gardens, soccer nets, etc. Today, he preferred the “Frog Playground”, as he calls it, because of its frog spring riders. He also loves to see the turtles sunning on the bank of a nearby canal, making it a two-for-one adventure!
After a quick turtle visit, we made our way to the playground. A quick glance and he ran straight to the wooden play structure. Running ahead, he looked back and asked me to join him on the slide, climbing rope, and tire swing. As I played along with him, I realized there was an opportunity to add a language twist to our fun.
We had spent the morning actively “hiding and finding.’” This game is his newest “favorite” activity and begins with a set of ‘Go Fish’ alphabet playing cards. First, we hid them all around the room (and in very obvious places). Next, we found each card and then returned them to our floor mat. We then made certain each card was paired. Finally, we identified each letter name and sound.
Following the same pattern, we hid ‘Go-together’ cards and the fifty states form our USA puzzle map and named each as well. Clearly in a heightened sensitive period for language, I knew I could interest him in a game that involved letter sounds in the great outdoors!
I began by saying “I spy with my little eye something that begins with ’s’” … He looked around and wasn’t quite sure where I was going with this game. Next I made the sound, ’S, s, s, … slide!!” He then smiled and repeated “Slide!!” I continued with “I spy … ‘f’”…”Frog!!” and so on until we had named everything within our view.
When it was time to leave, he began to say “I spy with my little eye…” We continued ‘spying’ all the way home. In between each object and letter, he would shout “Let’s do it again!!”. And we that’s exactly what we did … all the way “h, h, h, home”.