Are you 3-6 YO during COVID-19 Quarantine? Dr. Plastic Picker Suggested Activities
July 23, 2020
I saw a set of siblings 4 and 5 years of age yesterday for their physicals and one set of vaccines, and mother expressed the same frustration that many parents are having. “How do I keep the kids brain developing?” Many parents are in the same position. School is moving on-line, and on-line school is supoptimal for the development of a 4-6 year olds. Many parents ask me for advice, and I am a doctor and not a teacher. I always direct parents to teachers and educators. But I understand, they trust me. I have made a lot of mistakes raising and still raising my children. But our teen and tween children are healthy, inquisitive people and generally considered good students. Most importantly they are happy and they have what I think most of my patients consider really good brains. So here are some suggestions from your pediatrician who is NOT A TEACHER. Are your children 3-6 years of age? How do you keep them stimulated?
Eleven Dr. Plastic Picker Suggested and One Dr. Jill Gustafson Suggested Activities To Keep Your Children’s Brains Stimulated
- Check the Resources that Your Teachers have Given: This seems self evident, but your teachers are professionals and they have provided you resources already. Look at them. They have usually provided some additional supplemental resources. Try to use them and ask your teacher questions.
- Ask Your Teacher and Parent Friends: If you look around you, I bet you have friends that are teachers or parents that have educational experience. Ask them for advice too. It’s always best to look around and seek multiple opinions, and then make a decision for yourself.
- Starfall.com Our preschool teacher at our very expensive private school had recommended this very affordable set of readers, and they have a mostly free website. It’s funny that our private school tuition was 20,000 a year but the best thing we got from that year was a referral to a free website and a set of readers that cost $15. I mostly taught both my children to read from this series. I was an exhausted working mother and had just an hour or so with them before I had to go to bed, and I would sit with them and do this preK and kinder reading program. https://www.starfall.com/h/
- Raz-Kids. This website is more expensive. It is $115 which will be out of reach for some families. This is the online reading program our expensive private school provided. I also used this a lot during the year our children were 5 years of age, and pretty much this program taught them a lot of reading skills. You need to sit and work with them on it. But for an educated but non-educator parents like me, I liked it because I felt we were getting somewhere as we were going through the levels. https://www.raz-kids.com/
- Public Library. Hopefully the public libraries will open up again. My children are great readers and it’s never the book you think that will necessarily inspire them. I used to be a voracious reader, but now find myself loving the writing process. But my mom would allow me to spend hours at the public library and choose books. Allow your children to wander around and choose the books they want. Go to the library often when it opens up but with masks and good handwashing. I think libraries have the capacity to change the world. I hope they open up soon.
- Have Dolly Parton read to your children virtually in her beautiful voice! This is from our eco-conscious pediatrician friend Dr. Jill Gustafson. Here is a library of videos available until end of August, where Dolly Parton reads to children in her beautiful voice. She has a wonderful foundation that gifts free books to children, but our clinic zipcode does not qualify but we can listen to her reading. Reading in person to our children is important at least 15 minutes a day. But since the quarantine has our children at home more, let Dolly Parton help! https://donate.imaginationlibrary.com/goodnight-with-dolly/
- Take A Virtual Field Trip With Sea Turtles! This is less than a 3 minute video on sea turtles and listed under Ocean Connections (I met their awesome director at my Climate Reality Training!) as a virtual field trip. I am reposting here. Watch this video. https://oceantoday.noaa.gov/endoceanseaturtles/ And here is a virtual tour of Living Coast Discovery Center through an easy handout you can take https://oceanconnectors.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Sea-Turtle-Discovery-Virtual-Tour-FINAL-2019-Small.pdf. I spent an entire summer after ninth grade at Living Coast Discovery Center and I love that place. If you are my patient you likely have that Dr. Plastic Picker Reusable Tote bag that has that beautiful turtle my patient Daniela drew. Have your child draw or create their own turtle, and email it to me at drplasticpicker.com and I’ll post it on the blog and instagram account. I only ever include the child’s first name.
- Make a Monarch Butterfly Masks! Dr. Plastic Picker is a member of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Research. They are an amazing non-profit that is working to save all insects/invertebrates, and the butterfly I worry the most about is the Monarch Butterfly. Here is a fun free Butterfly craft you can work on. Monarch Butterfly https://xerces.org/publications/education-resources/monarch-mask, and Bumble Bee Masks https://xerces.org/publications/education-resources/bumble-bee-mask. If you have time, you can plant milkweed in your garden as well for the butterflies. But honestly even I haven’t done this yet, because I am not the best at gardening.
- Make Trash Art! You can use the various things in the kids’ “junk drawer.” There is no need to go buy something new. Monitor the kids, but I think you’ll be surprised what kids can do. Let them use their imagination. I showed these two set of siblings my most recent creation “Mutated sea turtles from the plastic ocean, chasing the teenage trash hero.” They looked at it in stunned silence. I know they have art in them too. If you do make trash art, please send me a picture at firstname.lastname@example.org I really would love to see what you make!
10. National Geographic Kids: There are a lot of fun resources here for kids about the environment. https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/
11. Character Lab: This is a more philosophical site for parents. But the ideas from Angela Duckworth’s research of Grit and building character in children. From writing thank you cards to a gratitude journal, there are some powerful ideas here https://characterlab.org/
12. Make a Bird House: This is really easy. I just took an old shoe box and cut a hole in it, and upcycled paper/thin plastic trash around the house and made this Upcycled Presidential Bird House. I’ve made three bird houses now. You can buy cheap birdseed in bulk at the grocery store pet aisle, and then just have the kids fill it. Small songbirds come to our yard every day now. The kids will be upcycling otherwise throw-away things into a bird house, and now you will also help the birds as our world needs more wild birds.
And that is it. This post was meant for two special kids I saw in clinic yesterday, and I promised mom I would write some suggestions down. We will get through this quarantine together, and I hope this post gives you some ideas of fun things to do with the kids. Don’t worry about letting them play by themselves without screen time. Developing imagination is very important. Your doctor believes a rich imaginary life is important for mental resilience later on. And it’s important to make sure as parents you are taking care of yourself. Kids learn better and do better mentally when their parents are happy. Isn’t that a revolutionary idea? It’s like an airplane. You have to put your own oxygen on first.