make sparks!

By the time school starts, some kids will have heard 4 million more words than others! You can put your child on the “wordy” side by talking to your sons and daughters every day, as soon as they’re born. Describe the objects you see in the room, the colors and shapes baby encounters, the people coming to visit and how you know them. It doesn’t take much to build a vocabulary.

ask, tell, do

Ask your little one a question (Is a leopard fast or slow?  How about an elephant?); tell them about their world (look at all the pictures Grandma has hanging in her house); or do something together (let’s count all the green vegetables we can find). There’s no limit to the number or type of sparks! you can create, all you need is a little imagination.

Tip: Look your child in the eye when initiating a sparks! activity and you’ll engage them even further. 

Bright by Text

Sign up to have text messages – specifically geared for your child’s age – sent directly to your phone.  Find out more here: BrightbyText

Born Learning Trails

A trip to the park can be even more than fresh air and exercise. Born Learning Trails offer ideas to get your child hopping, counting and thinking, all while having fun. Find the one closest to you, or try them all! View a list of local trails installed by Great Rivers United Way.

Read, read, read

Even babies enjoy snuggling with you while you read a book. Read to your child as often as you can. This helps them learn new words, allows them to think creatively, and, depending on the book, can help them learn how to be a good friend.

how do you make sparks!?

You’ll find lots more tips on the bottom of this page and on  our Facebook page.

Still want more activities?  Vroom offers a variety of tips and the science behind them.

Curious to know if  your child’s development is on target with most children that age?  The CDC has some great info.

Wondering if your child is ready to start school?  Check out our tips for assessing kindergarten readiness.

Filter activities by

Tell your child about the food they eat. Where did it come from? How was it made? Where did it grow?

Running an errand? Tell your child what happens at the bank or laundromat, and why you're going there.

Tell a story about when you were little. What did you like to do or play? Then try it with your child!

On a walk, ask about the houses, buildings, or businesses you see. Who lives there?

Ask your child about the world around them. How many? What kind? What color?

Play “Simon says!” Touch your nose, close your eyes, pat your head, wiggle your fingers. Make up a different name for Simon!

If a watermelon could talk, what would it say?

While driving, make up stories about (or ask your child) where other cars are going.

Play peek-a-boo!

While driving, talk about the colors of items in your car.

Can you name four green vegetables? Ask your child at the grocery store.