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If you are familiar with this blog then you know that my son has Autism. Last year he attended a special 3-k program for exceptional children, but he did so well in it that this year he will be in a fully mainstreamed, 100% normal classroom at an elementary school! I am absolutely overjoyed and have SO many emotions going on about it – excitement, fear, anticipation, worry… The list goes on. Most of all I want to make sure he succeeds, and that means taking time out to help him along the way. Learning outside of school is crucial for educational success, but the last thing either of us want to do when he gets home from school is to sit down and do more work. Having a creative outlet that combines fun and learning is a great way to keep him excited about education, so I picked up a few fun Disney Junior games last time I was at Walmart along with some fun craft supplies that we can do together after he gets home from school.
Making it fun
I love my son to pieces, but the kid is as picky and as stubborn as they come. If an activity isn’t appealing to him there is NO way he is going to touch it. Luckily Walmart carries a great selection of Disney Jr. back to school activity kits that help with skills like counting, reading, writing, number recognition and more. They come in all the popular characters – Jake, Sophia, Doc McStuffins and Mickey Mouse and are all around $5 each which makes them really affordable. I grabbed a few different ones, but Judah’s favorite is by far the Jake And The Neverland Pirates.
Keeping it engaging
Preschoolers get bored very easily, even with activities they love doing, and doing them solo makes it even worse. Keeping them engaged is super important to successful learning, so I try to make games of them. I can’t just sit there and ask him to complete his activities while I watch, so I get in on the fun and take turns with him. One of the activities in the Jake kit is to come up with six words that rhyme, so we take turns trying to think of as many rhyming words as we can and he loves it! That’s another thing to remember when going through pre-made activities – you don’t always have to follow the rules! You can make it your own and really personalize the experience based on your child.
Rewarding hard work
Kids love incentives. Judah’s therapists use reward systems in their programs, so I decided to create a fun reward system with a treasure chest and gold “doubloons” to give him when he completes his tasks. It was really easy to make – check it out!
Adorable, right? All you need is a small wooden chest (I found mine for around $3), some paint and a few buttons. I wanted to make sure I was matching my colors exactly, so I mixed a deep red with some orange for the main part and then picked a mustard yellow for the trim.
For the doubloons I chose a standard gold spray paint and gave them one coat on each side. If you can’t find buttons you can also do pennies. Judah LOVES it and he loves earning doubloons too! The entire activity kit fits into it as well, so nothing gets lost.
If your children aren’t into Jake there are other great character themes to choose from including Doc Mcstuffins, Sophia or Mickey. For rewards systems you could do stickers, small cardboard bows for a Minnie Mouse theme, and so much more!
Whatever your child’s interest, the key point is to keep it fun. Early education is extremely important for the future, and if they enjoy it they will be more open to the learning experience. You can find these and more Disney Jr. activity kits in the Back To School section of Walmart.