All kids, and especially pre-schoolers, are enthralled by ordinary, every day experiences. The simplest of acts, like riding on a bus, can be a huge thrill for a child, especially when experienced for the first time. Their enthusiasm for learning, and eagerness to experience the world around them, means that a seemingly ordinary place can become a hugely exciting day out. Here’s a list of five places we’ve been to recently for a fun day out with R. All of them were a huge hit, they each offered lots of learning opportunites and they were all free!
Original Photo Credits: Isidro López Flickr (airport), Ed Gaillard Flickr (construction site), Otzberg Flickr (train station), Massmatt Flickr (docks)
1. THE AIRPORT
There’s something about an airport that is just electric, especially to a child. We’ve been to our local airport twice now and I’m pretty sure R will be requesting that we do it again. We found an observation area with a good clear view of the runway and watched the planes taking off and landing. There’s so much activity out there on the tarmac. We watched the maintenance workers checking and refuelling the planes and saw baggage staff loading cargo and luggage. Then of course there are all the different types of vehicles – cargo taxis, firetrucks, the stairs that are moved around to allow passengers to alight and embark. All fascinating to watch. Inside the airport we enjoyed seeing uniformed airline staff, especially the pilots in their special captain’s hats. We spent some time at the baggage collection area and watched the journey of the luggage as it travelled around the carousels. There’s also lots of opportunites for letter and number recognition practise with all of those flight information signs. Food and parking at airports can be expensive so we brought a packed lunch from home and you could take the train for an ecomical way to get there (and the kids would love the train ride too!)
2. TRAIN STATION
A trip to the train station (even without a ride on one of the trains) can be lots of fun. There are different types of trains to spot, such as passenger trains, freight trains, diesels engines and electric trains. R enjoys counting the number of passenger cars or cargo trucks on each train. He also loves to guess what the cargo trains might be carrying, and it’s always fun to hear his ideas (toys and robots feature prominently!) It can be fun to watch the passengers and make up stories about where they might be going (lots of imaginative story telling opportunities here!). You could also visit more than once, at different times of the day, adn then ask your child if they notice any difference in the types of passengers at say the morning rush of peak hour, and then later during the day. There are lots of letter and number recognition opportunities at a train stration with platform numbers and boarding signs. There are also clocks (the old fashioned variety and digital versions) to observe – younger children can practise reading the numbrs and older children can practise telling the time. A visit to a central station can be especially wonderful as there is often historic architecture to admire.
3. CONSTRUCTION SITE
Cranes, lorries, cement mixers, dump trucks and lots of noise - so much to watch, learn and talk about! Notice how all the workmen are wearing hard hats and bright shirts for safety. Observe the various safety signs around the site. What’s that truck carrying? Where will the crane carry that load? Ask your kids what type of building they think is being built and who might use it when it’s done.
4. HARBOURSIDE / DOCKLANDS
There is so much to see at a quay or docklands. There are so many different types of water transport from ferries, to tug boats or even water police. If you visit a major port, and plan ahead, you could time your visit to conincide with the docking of an ocean liner. You can ask your child to guess what the rpurpose of each boat might be, who travels on it and where the boats may be going. It’s fun to watch the deck hands at work, pulling up anchors and tying the huge ropes around the cleats. Our local harbour is often filled with jelly-fish that we can see from the docks, and R just loves feeding bread scraps to the sea gulls.
5. FARMER’S MARKETS OR FISH MARKETS
We cannot walk past a seafood shop without R wanting to stop and take a look at all of the fish on display, so a trip to thefish markets is always met with excitment. He loves naming the different species of fish and learning new ones that he hasn’t seen before. There’s so much to see – prawns, scollops, giant crabs, huge marlin and tuna fish. There is such a unique atmosphere. It’s loud and crowded and there’s a special energy about the place. If you don’t live near a fish market, then what about a local farmer’s or grower’s market? Kids are enthralled by the bustling market atmosphere and it’s fun trying to name all of the different types of produce. The stall holders will usually love to talk to your kids about their farm and how their produce is grown.
Which creative places do you like to visit wih your children?
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