The greatest thing about tabletop surprises is that they afford my kids the opportunity for some seriously fun independent learning in cool and creative ways.
Because learning–especially in the summer–should be fun, right?
This week, we traveled a bit to hang with our familia in the Keystone State, so we only rocked our tabletop surprises four days this week. And Friday? Our boy celebrated his big numero ocho cumpleanos. So we made our tabletop surprise especially for Owen.
We added a little bit of math, a little bit of reading, a little bit of critical thinking, and a whole lot of on-their-own-time kinda fun.
Here’s the skinny. . .
- Independent Learning, Poetry, and Play– Tabletop Surprises:
- Mealtime Math Madness with Melissa & Doug Math Fact Placemats: This tabletop surprise moved from the work room table to our kitchen table–and it stayed there pretty much all week long.
I’ve always been a fan of mealtime learning, placemat parties, and using the many hours spent at the breakfast table for newspaper reading, sneaky learning, personal discovery, and more.
So when I found this sweet line of fun, wipe-off placemats from Melissa & Doug, I wanted to dance. Really. Like running man al kinda dance.
We have tried the Alphabet & Numbers set, the Advanced Skills set, the Basic Skills set, and the Math Skills set. We haven’t tried the Fun Skills set (my poor, poor kids).
What I love about these sets is that though the problems are not mixed randomly, my hope is that kids will see patterns in the answers that will help them down the road. I don’t know. I can hope though.
Love the wipe off crayons that are super easy to write with and bright enough to see. Love that there’s one mat each for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and the answers are on the back of each. So if the kids aren’t up for writing, then at least they can eat and stare at the answers. Maybe the answers will sear into their brains if they look at them long enough. . .
- Poems–Memorizing & Reciting: I love poems for so many reasons, but for kids, poems can be a super way of working on reading skills.
Check out how we rocked some serious poetry this week: Reading, Reciting, and Memorizing Poems
Fluency, memorization, and recitation are three big open doors when it comes to poetry, not to mention the creativity, writing skills, language play, critical thinking, and comprehension strategies you can practice.
- Back-t0-School Shopping & Lists: Our family totally digs Back-to-School shopping, and it’s a tradition to kinda ‘do it up’ every year.
We’ve had the kids use their own school supply shopping lists from day one, and each year I do a little something to support Maddy, Owen, and Cora in their reading and management of their personal lists.
This year, I put them to work even before we arrived at the store.
I printed out supply lists from the school website, and I let them go.
Owen in particular had a great time trying to figure out the best places to buy Skylanders most inexpensively, and once he figured that out, he spent a few minutes plowing through his list.
The challenge was having them incorporate the coupons I had on the table–that involved some serious math practice.
Though this tabletop surprise required more support than I had anticipated, it was worth it. Now we have our back-to-school shopping plan outline for the weekend.
- Free Electronics: Really, for Owen’s birthday, all he wanted was a free day for electronics.
So that’s what we gave him.
Free reign of the Wii, the Nintendo DS, the LeapFrog LeapPad, the LeapFrog GS, the iPad, and the iPad mini, and my boy was in hog heaven. The best gift I could have given him, he said.
No Game Time Tickets. No timers. Nothin’.
I had to do a lot of deep breathing to ease my anxiety over my kids’ brain cells being zapped by the second, but surprisingly, they didn’t spend all day on electronics. Just a whole lot of it. Gulp.
Stay on top of the Tabletop Surprises by checking out the past few weeks if you’ve missed them:
- Tabletop Surprises Week One
- Tabletop Surprises Week Two
- Tabletop Surprises Week Three
- Tabletop Surprises Week Four
Or check out some fun ideas from a our Smart Summer Challenge a few summers back.
fyi: affiliate links included in this post
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