Six and seven year olds have a wonderful, playful imagination. By the time they are 8, their creativity has begun to diminish as they prioritize fitting in to societal standards of knowledge and competence. However, with the right support, your child can learn and advance while maintaining that whimsical quality this age is known for. Take advantage of these playful escapades as you support your child's emotional developmental along with his or her cognition, literacy and academic abilities!
Math fact practice, literacy skills, and creative thinking:
- Math Facts Plank Walking: Turn your couch into a pirate ship and your piano bench into the “plank.” No bench? Use masking tape to outline the board on the floor. Create storylines where for every incorrect math fact answer, your child takes another walk down the plank. Or for every right answer, you have to take another step towards the end of the plank. You can do this with sight word reading or spelling practice as well. Want an online version? Try this fun sight word version. Or have fun combating pirates in this place value math game. If your child is an advanced math learner, give one of these math mysteries a try: Place Value Pirates or Math Maven's Mystery.
- Sight Word Island Hopping: Place pillows with sight words taped onto them around the floor, close enough that your child can safely hop from one to another. Hold up a sight word card. Your child has to get from her current spot to the sight word in 3 hops or less, reading the names of the pillows she lands on along the way (be sure they won’t slip when she jumps on them). If she gets the word wrong, she is “eaten by the sharks,” which could be a tickle fest with you, or other playful “punishment.” Have her problem solve different ways to hop before she goes, emphasizing previewing and logic skills along with literacy.
- Pirate Reading: Write out simple sentences with phonetic and/or sight words (more complex sentences if your child is reading well) on strips of paper. Have your child pull a cut-up strip out of a pirate hat and read it aloud in her best pirate voice. Repeat back what you heard them say in “plain English.” See if your child can connect this to How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long and David Shannon. Have some fun with Pirate Phonics. Let your child have a go at this fun pirate “translator,” a great way to talk about perspective taking!
- Math Facts Treasure Hunt: Take a brown grocery bag and tear it into an interesting pirate map shape. Crumple it up to make it look weathered and make a map of your backyard, nearby park, or house/apartment. Put several ‘X’ locations with simple text cues to help your child know where to go (e.g, Look in the dog house; a clue is next to the swings). Beside the “X” put the numeric answer to the math fact problem you want them to do (e.g., give your child the card 5+7; put a 12 on the map beside the spot where they go to get the next math fact card). Plan out the route you want them to take and place the math fact cards accordingly, saving of course the first one for her to start with. Her correct solving of the problem will let her look at the map and see where to go to get the next clue. Literacy, map reading, and math facts all in a fun treasure hunt! Think of a fun surprise for the end.
- Money Pit: Hide coins in the sand. Your child has to find them but to keep them, she must identify their value or add them up (depending on the skill you want to work on). Choose your coins based on the skill you want to emphasize (e.g., use all pennies and practice skip counting by 2’s, nickels for 5’s and dimes for 10’s). Does your child need more challenge? Give an assortment of different coins. Can your child divide his booty in half? Fourths? Pirates always shared things evenly. Give your child a “crew” and practice some hands-on fractions and division. You can do this same activity to practice even and odd numbers too.
- Pirate Treasure Hunt: Eight Challenges app: Use the map to help Pirate Jack solve 8 puzzles. The game draws on both reading and math skills, along with logic, reasoning, inferencing, and cause-and-effect.
- Storytelling: Read some fun pirate books (suggestions below) and use them as a taking off point for your child’s own storytelling. Working through issues of theme, plot, setting, and character through play can provide some of the best literacy learning there is! Add some simple props (e.g., a paper towel roll becomes a spy glass, a bandana becomes a pirate head cap, etc). Extend the fun by taking a photo of your child in costume and uploading it onto Blabberize. Here you can make the mouth move and then record your child retelling his adventures to send to grandparents or friends. Or use the Toontastic app and have her create and share a tale or two with pirate puppets.