Get Ready, Get Set, Go Hunting!

At this time every year families are gearing up for Easter – buying and decorating eggs, planning a big family meal, and creating a fun filled Easter Egg Hunt. However along with the fun can come some tricky challenges!

I have never had the privilege of hosting Easter dinner. But I have organized the Easter Egg Hunt. The first time I did, I was surprised at how time consuming it could be – especially if you have multiple families coming over. When there are two or more children it can be hard to create equality in the Easter Egg Hunt. Watching my nieces and nephews find and argue over eggs completely took me back to when I was a kid at Easter. My parents had to deal with the same thing – my younger sister never found as many goodies as my older sister and I.

A few years ago I found the solution – colour-code the Easter Eggs! Each child is given a colour specific to them – the only eggs they can collect are of that colour. It’s a great way to introduce learning colours (for the younger children) while keeping things fun and fair.  An unexpected bonus is that the Hunt changes from a competition into the fun event you planned!

If you are hosting Easter dinner, why not incorporate decorating the eggs into the party? While dinner is cooking, have the adults sit and help the children create some wonderfully colourful eggs. It’s a great way to spend some quality time together. It’s also a great way to incorporate some early literacy – by talking about the colours they are using and about how they are creating their designs. For those families that thrive on competition, the prize for the winning decorated egg can be getting out of washing the dishes after dinner!

Good Luck Hunting and have a Happy Easter!

 

Unplugging on Family Day!

Every year I hear the term “unplug” for Family Day and every year I have great intentions to put away my phone and other devices and spend the day uninterrupted with my family.  Any guesses on how that went? One of my favourite excuses was “I wasn’t using technology but everyone else was, so I gave in”.

It can be scary to disconnect from all the technology we use every day. It has become the go-to for information on what is happening in the lives of family and friends. We have become disconnected with each other as we rely more and more on technology to connect us. I think technology has become so invasive in our everyday lives that it is sometimes hard to even think of games or activities to do together that do not involve some form of technology.

Last year, my fiancé and I decided that since we had never been able make it a whole day unplugged, we would instead choose a few activities to do together throughout the day. At these times, we would put away all devices and just focus on connecting with each other.

It worked great! We probably spent half the day without our devices. We played games for an hour or two, went for a walk with the dog, and went out for lunch. Afterwards we had our device time. We still felt like we were spending time together or with extended family because while we were connected to our devices we were talking to family or connecting with them on Facebook, playing games together on the Wii, or watching movies with each other. We did this throughout the day and had a really great time together.

We had so much fun unplugged that we have extended it beyond Family Day. At least a couple of nights a week, we pull out the cards or dice and play Crazy Eights Countdown or Yatzhee.

My goal this year is to try to increase the time we spend unplugged from our devices by even an hour or two. Eventually I would like to be able to complete the entire day device free. However, I know that whatever happens I will have spent at least some quality, unplugged time together with my family – and that is what really matters.

I would encourage everyone to unplug this long weekend for Family Day – you never know where it might take you. Have a great weekend and please share your Family Day activities with the Centre for Family Literacy.

If you’re looking for some fun, inexpensive activities to do this weekend in Edmonton, check out http://www.edmonton.ca/unplugged or http://www.fsccaa.or/.

‘Tis the Season for Lifelong Learning!

Winter holidays provide an excellent opportunity for families and friends to spend time together. There are many fun learning activities that families can do.

Literacy is one of the greatest gifts that adults can share and benefit from with their families.

Mother and daughter baking cookies

Try the following activities to encourage family literacy over the holidays:

  1. Make a list, check it twice: As a family, write out lists together – wish lists to Santa, shopping lists, or even New Year’s resolutions!
  2. Watch a book: Many classic holiday stories have been adapted for the big screen. Read these stories with your kids first, then watch the movie; Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas are classic favourites.
  3. Signed, sealed, delivered: Do you have a stack of holiday cards that need to be prepared? Ask your family to help you write out greetings and addresses, or stamp envelopes.
  4. How many shopping days left? When shopping for gifts or holiday party supplies, ask your kids to count out the change required to make your purchase. You can practice numeracy skills by keeping track of spending before you reach the cash register.
  5. Dear Grandma: The holidays are a great time to write a letter or email to a loved one. Have everyone in your family contribute at least one paragraph on what they have accomplished over the last year.
  6. Holiday scavenger hunt: Create a list of holiday and winter-related items around your home. Give the list to your family and have them find all the items on the list.
  7. Jack Frost nipping at your nose: On cold winter days, snuggle by the fire with a good holiday book and a cup of hot chocolate. Don’t forget the marshmallows!
  8. Make reading a key ingredient: Following a recipe is a great way to practice reading, comprehension and math skills. By baking holiday cookies or cakes, you can get the whole family involved.
  9. Sing Christmas carols: Get together with your neighbours and go door-to-door singing carols. Singing encourages learning patterns of words, rhymes and rhythms, and is strongly connected to language skills.
  10. Play for Literacy! Put on your pajamas and have a family game night. Each family member chooses a game, such as a board game or card game, then have fun playing all night long!