The holidays are a time to be thankful for those special people in our lives and the stories they have been a part of. For many of us, Thanksgiving means spending time with family members and loved ones. We enjoy a meal together, watch football or a parade, and love creating new memories. But, have you ever thought about how this time can be a rich learning opportunity for children? Here are a few simple ways to connect with children, extend their thinking, and continue to build their language and literacy skills during the holidays by integrating stories into your day.
Create a New Story
Let children help prepare part of the meal. Pick out a recipe that is special to your family or culture. Talk about what a recipe is and show your helper what the steps are along the way. Let the child measure, mix, and pour. Use unfamiliar words that help build their vocabulary, such as spatula, teaspoon, and baste. Letting children take ownership of part of such an important meal can be a huge confidence boost and something they will be telling everyone about!
Tell a Story
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to share family stories and discuss your family’s culture and heritage. Have different family members share stories from their history, some of their favorite family traditions, or look at family photos together. Passing on family stories, traditions, and customs helps keep them alive for generations. Children will hear lots of rich language and understand the world and their history better as you tell them stories about your family, your life, or things you’ve done together.
Read a Story
This is a great time for different family members to cuddle up after a big meal and share a story. Have children pick out a favorite story to read with somebody new, like Grandpa Joe or Aunt Sophia. Even for babies, reading is a great way to bond with another adult and allows them to hear lots of new words and ideas. Older children can then retell the story to their new reading partner. Retelling stories helps children make sense of what they are reading, along with giving them a sense of pride.
These are just three simple ways to maximize learning opportunities throughout the day. I encourage you to get creative and mobilize your family members to join in on the fun of storytelling!
I hope your Thanksgiving creates a new set of memories and stories for you and your family. I know in my house, I’m looking forward to spending time with my family and 14-month old son, Alex, who is full of energy, running all around, and always eager to ready his favorite book, Flip, Flap, Fly, by Phyllis Root. While there might not be much napping on Thanksgiving, I know I can count on Alex snuggling up with his grandparents and extended family to read a book – and for me, that’s what holidays are all about.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!