Spending time with our children can be for fun or for learning, or it can be for both. The secret to turning a regular activity into an enriching one might surprise you. Jody Paulsen is a mother of two who has been teaching for more than 30 years. Today she's an elementary school Gifted and Talented Specialist and she explains that enrichment is all about the lip service. Paulsen says, "Conversation is the most accessible enrichment tool we have. Ask questions of your child to clarify their thinking and extend the discussion, and not just 'why.' Asking them 'why' seems to put them on the spot. Ask them how they came to that thought, where they got the idea, how did they figure something out. You’ll still get to the 'why,' but in a less scary way for them."
These conversations can be about literally any activity from sand castle building to card game playing. Paulsen says, "Enrichment has to do with thinking, extending and empowering. If kids can learn that they — and others — have individual power through their thinking and actions, the sky’s the limit!"
While the best activities are often the simplest, some really do open the door to this kind of thinking and discussing. So we've gathered the best enrichment activities for you to do with your little one. Each one of these is parent, teacher and child approved and lends itself naturally to those enrichment conversations.
Paulsen says, "All kids deserve to be enriched, not just those deemed 'high potential,' since all children have gifts!" So get ready to play, the smart way!
Jolanthe is the blogger behind Homeschool Creations, a site where she shares resources, free printables and encouragement for homeschool families. Jolanthe's great enrichment activity idea is The Bridge Builder Instant Challenge, a logic boosting activity that challenges kids to create a bridge that holds weight. To learn more about Jolanthe's activity, visit her site.
Girlstart is a program and site dedicated to empowering girls in science, technology, engineering and math. Girlstart's great enrichment activity idea is creating a flashlight constellation, a simple activity that's made with materials you probably already have at home, has a great wow factor and is a perfect conversation starter for a budding star gazer. To learn more about Girlstart's activity, visit their site.
Kathy Barbo is the creative hand behind the blog Art Projects for Kids where she shares classroom tested art projects for kids in kindergarten through grade 5, and beyond. Kathy's great enrichment activity idea is a Chagall Inspired Watercolor, a beautiful — and simple to make — water color painting with a twist and a natural lead in lesson to composition, scale and history. To learn more about Kathy's activity, visit her site.
Angela Fehr is a professional watercolor painter and teacher and a homeschooling mom of three. Angela's great enrichment activity idea is a Reading Enrichment Jar, a pretty jar filled with 25 creative reading enrichment ideas that kids can complete after their independent reading! To learn more about Angela's activity, visit her site.
Mrs. Johnson shares art projects and inspiration on the blog Art Rocks! Her great enrichment activity idea is a symmetry portrait project where kids are challenged to draw the other half of a photographed face! The concepts and conversations starters are endless here beginning with proportion and patience and ending with judgment! To learn more about Mrs. Johnson's activity, visit her site.
Lori Kelhl is an art teacher who revels in getting creative with her students every single day. Lori's great enrichment activity idea is creating a text and photo canvas in honor of Andy Warhol's "Pop" style. To learn out more about Lori's activity, visit her site Fun Art 4 Kids.
Amanda is a fourth grade teacher who shares amazing teaching ideas on her blog The Teaching Thief. Amanda's great enrichment activity idea is creating a list of thinking stems, or conversation starters, to use with your kids while reading. These can also be practiced with movies, activities and television shows. The concept is teaching kids how to talk about their thinking and is as simple as starting and modeling with Amanda's starter ideas! To learn about Amanda's activity, visit her site.
Sarah Hagan is the teacher behind the site Math = Love where she shares her reflections on her lessons taught and learned as a high school math teacher. Sarah's great enrichment activity idea is The Marshmallow Challenge, a cleverly fun activity where students are challenged to create a freestanding tower out of simple supplies like... spaghetti! To learn more about Sarah's activity, visit her site.