PARTY: Turning parties into learning experiences

20 April 2017
Reading time3 minutes

We all know that parties are lots of fun for kids, but did you know parties are also key learning experiences?

While you’re scouring party stores and the internet for decorations, planning the party list, invitations and then the party food – there’s lots that your children can help you with that can shape early literacy. Even just talking about what you’re doing with your child is helping them be a part of the process and to build essential skills. And then on party day there’s lots of opportunities to build in learning through fun games and songs.

In the lead up to the party

While it’s tempting to get onto party planning when children aren’t around, depending on the age of your child there’s lots they can help with.

Choosing the theme

Most kids are super opinionated about their party theme and that’s a great thing. Planning the party around something your child loves not only adds to their excitement but also makes any learning experiences extra meaningful. So, whether they love Paw Patrol, Transformers, Frozen or My Little Pony, let them lead the way in choosing a theme and then what activities they may want to add to the party.

Involve them in internet searches for games and activities that fit with the theme and discuss what is involved with each game. If there is prep involved, such as cutting or colouring – enlist their help. It may not look perfect but they’ll be super proud on party day when they can show their hard work to their friends. In the lead up to the party, read books together based on their chosen party theme. This is a great way to get them excited about reading. First Five Forever have some great tips on reading together.

Writing invitations

Even if they’re not writing yet, involving kids in the invite process gives them access to a whole host of early literacy and numeracy skills. Count out how many friends are on their invitation list, get them to point out letters they know and talk about the beginning letters of each name. Children can decorate envelopes and practice writing their own name.

Shopping for food

Shopping with kids is not always a happy experience, but it can be aided by giving them tasks and by getting them involved with preparing the list. Party shopping is a bit more exciting than the normal weekly shop and they can choose their favourite foods and you can discuss what ingredients you need for the party food you’re preparing. Talk about signs and labels on food packaging as you go.

Preparing the food

While cooking with children is often messy, getting them involved in the kitchen exposes them to so much language and early maths skills. Ask them to measure out ingredients and talk about what ingredients you need, so they can help grab them from the fridge or cupboard. Show them the recipes and instructions as you follow them together.

On party day

On party day, there is sure to be excitement all round (and perhaps a little exhaustion for the parents!) and while the focus is on fun – there’s plenty of ways to inject some learning into the party mix.

Add in some singing

Singing is so much fun and plays a crucial role in literacy development.Choose some songs that your kids love and set up a microphone and let them loose. You may have the Frozen theme stuck in your head for days but console yourself in the knowledge that they were learning while they were piercing your ear drums!!

Party games

Set up some different game stations that kids can visit during the party. Some great DIY ideas include make your own masks, games of snap, colouring in and activity sheets and dot to dots. Having these stations takes the pressure off the parents to be ‘running the games’ and gives kids the choice of what activity they’d like to do.

Party favours and prizes

Instead of party favours and toy prizes, give out books based on the party theme. It’s a great gift that keeps giving and will remind your child’s friends of the party every time they read it.

For more tips to make everyday activities learning experiences, visit First 5 Forever.

Written by

Belinda Peters

Belinda is a journalist, blogger and editor with more than 15 years’ experience in print and online journalism. As our digital editor, Belinda immerses herself in scanning the web for the latest in parenting news, products and opinion for the Kids in the City/Kids on the Coast online community. When she’s not kid wrangling two energetic boys, Belinda lives for trying out the ever-expanding array of cafes, restaurants and bars in her home town of Brisbane. While her caffeine addiction remains strong, she also finds her Zen with yoga and attempts to find her balance by stand up paddle boarding.

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