Kids want to watch more TV. You want to spend more time helping them learn. The solution? Have them learn while watching TV. Embrace your kids’ interests by combining fun counting activities with the shows they love. After all, kids learn best when they incorporate objects and scenarios from their daily lives. These five ideas will make television watching more interactive, fun and educational.
1. Count the Number of Commercials:
With a few exceptions, even channels focused on kids have their fair share of commercials. Rather than having kids focus on the latest must-have toys, have them focus on improving their counting. As kids count the commercials, they’ll be too focused on remembering what number they’re on to pay attention to the products the commercials advertise. You can turn the basic counting skills into beginning data collection skills too, keeping a chart to track whether the amount of commercials is the same at every interval or if certain time slots or shows have more commercials than others.
2. Count the Letters or Words:
For a less involved counting activity, encourage kids to count during random points during the show. For example, when the title of the show appears on the screen, have kids count how many letters appear in the title. You can do the same as other words appear on the screen. Kids can also count how many times a particular word appears or is spoken during a show. For example, kids can count how often Dora and Boots say “Swiper, no swiping” or while watching a movie such as Finding Nemo count how often Dory says “Just keep swimming.”
3. Create a TV Scavenger Hunt:
Turn watching TV into a game by providing kids with a scavenger hunt to complete as they search for items on a list. Instead of having kids find each item once, challenge them to see how many times they can find each item on the list. Children can place a dot or a tally mark next to each item every time they find it and then tally their results at the end of the show. A sample scavenger hunt for kids might include items such as:
- Something red
- A dog
- The sun or moon
- A piece of fruit
- The letter M
- A tree or flower
- Something with stripes
4. Set a timer:
Of course, when kids watch TV, it’s good to set limits on how much TV they can actually watch. Buy a stopwatch or a small digital timer and set it out where kids can see it while they’re watching TV. Kids will indirectly learn about counting as they watch the minutes tick down (or watch the minutes add up with a stopwatch). Parents can also have kids count how many episodes they can watch in a certain amount of time. At certain times of the day, channels such as Sprout offer shorter blocks of episodes, so kids could end up watching 5 or 6 shows during an hour of TV time.
5. Watch Shows that Focus on Counting:
If all else fails, you can always have your kids watch shows that focus on counting. This includes shows such as Team Umizoomi, Blue’s Clues, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Sesame Street. As kids watch, encourage them to count with the characters and to respond when the characters ask them to respond. If you don’t have access to a lot of traditional counting skills, you can also show kids online videos that focus on counting, including those found at Math Game Time.
Of course, when it comes to teaching kids to count, the TV can’t do all of the work. Have them use their new counting skills to play fun counting games or complete worksheets designed to help them boost their counting skills. Soon kids will be so confident in their counting skills, they’ll start counting everything in sight.