Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Hot Wheels FUNdamentals - Keep Kids Learning this Summer

We have just 2 more days of school left after today. For me, this means I am two days away from the end of school lunches and fights about waking up and getting dressed every morning. For Boo, it means he is two days away from the freedom to stay up late and sleep in if he wants, or at least to be able to ease in to his day. I know he is looking forward to certain outdoor activities and adventures, and he can't wait to head to Newfoundland for our annual trip to see his grandparents and cousins. But I think he is mostly picturing a summer filled with NO SCHOOL and lots of video games.

It can be a struggle to keep kids learning during the summer months, but it's important to keep their brains active as well as their bodies. I won't let Boo's head turn to mush between now and September, and so I try to keep him learning in ways that are fun for him. Basically, I trick him into learning without realising he's doing it. #MomWin! Talking about different plants and animals on nature walks, offering books to read, keeping crossword puzzles at hand (they are a new love of his!), and having him handle the money and make change at our garage sale are all simple ways to keep his thinker thinking. All this will help to have him prepared when school starts up again in the fall.

Knowing that participating in educational activities during the summer months can advance children’s knowledge and help them retain what they’ve learned over the past school year, Hot Wheels is again running the FUNdamentals Learning Project in 2015. This program is rooted in the belief that play-based learning is a great benefit to kids and is a way to keep them stimulated when school is out. Studies have shown that play improves memory, language skills and can help with academic focus.

Sounds good to me! But how does Hot Wheels do this? The FUNdamentals program began in 2012, and was developed by experienced educators to provide lesson plans and resources for teachers in Kindergarten and Grade 1. Originally focused solely on math, the program has expanded to include lesson plans for science and language as well. Teachers can download free lesson plans from hotwheelsinschool.ca, and can register to receive a Hot Wheels Kit including product, Activity Books, a CD of the lesson plans, special offers, and more. Kits are available on a first come, first served basis, so be sure to let your child's teacher know to register early!

The Hot Wheels Activity Book allows kids to bring the FUNdamentals program into the home. Hard copies can be distributed in class by teachers participating in the program, or parents can download a free pdf from the FUNdamentals website. The books are filled with activities to stimulate learning,
such as mix-and-match games, pattern recognition, language skills and some simple counting and addition. If you have a child in the 3-7 year old range, I encourage you to take a look.

You can also download a free Hot Wheels Cityscape to colour and assemble. Your child will have fun colouring their car, and can then practice fine motor skills and following directions as they transform the sheet into a 3D display. The Cityscape sheet also includes counting, patterning, and literacy activities to keep them learning while having fun. I dropped off a bunch of these with the grade one teacher at Boo's school yesterday. She'll be sending them home with her kids on Thursday, though many of them caught a glimpse while I was there. "OOH! Hot Wheels!" was the unanimous response, so I'm sure they'll be a hit :)

How do you keep your kids learning over the summer? I'll bet you're finding ways to do it naturally during daily play. Learning doesn't have to be boring, and you don't need to buy curriculum books and have them doing "homework" over these next 10 weeks. Just look for opportunities as you go through your day, and consider options like these Hot Wheel FUNdamentals activities to add to the mix.

Disclosure: This post has been brought to you by the Hot Wheels FUNdamentals Learning Program. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

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