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New Educational Philosophy: Everything is learned better when learned in Pajamas

January 13, 2011

That’s right folks, it’s a proven (un)scientific fact. If you want to learn something, you’ll learn it better if you’re in pajamas. Especially spelling. Especially spelling when Mom is having a sick day and feels the need to have something happening to further educate her children, but can barely crawl out of bed or off the couch to do it. Especially when the kids think that Pajama school is fun! Works like a charm!

I’ve been doing this with Connor since we were doing preschool, and have just upped the number of  Boggle, Jr. tiles we toss in the stack. This day, he was helping Aiden work on the activity. But just the idea of starting out a day and say, ‘Hey kids, we’re going to do school in our PJ’s today!” begins the day with a bit of folly in the air, a lightening of the heart, a more willing mindset, and a much happier mommy.

I keep a set of rainy day/sick day activities that are brought out only for special occasions. They are intended for non-parent participation, take more than five minutes to accomplish, and allow independent study of basic facts.

Here’s a few of our Pajama Day activities

SPEED SPELLING: Baggie of old spelling game tiles (such as Boggle, Jr or Scrabble tiles no longer with a game board). Toss out some tiles, get some scratch paper (or wipe-off  board), set the timer, and see how many words you can create before the timer goes off. Yes, this is a lot like Boggle, but I find it’s better for my kinesthetic learners to be able to move tiles around to form different words than to do mental spelling activities. Because they’re in their pj’s, you see, and still kind of sleepy. Doesn’t matter that this was taken at about 2 in the afternoon. They were still sleepy..yeah..it’s naptime sleepiness! That’s the ticket! But this game really let’s Aiden shine in a subject he’s really good at, plus they can play alone or team up. Makes for a great 30 min run of giggles, spelling reinforcement and a happy momma.

GAMES: Awhile back, I was gifted a bunch of Magic School Bus activities by a friend who didn’t realize what a gold mine she had in her hands. She’d looked at them for a moment, assumed no kid would like them, so gave them to us. We’re like Mikey..we’ll play anything Magic School Bus or Science. These little cardboard board games reinforce science facts and philosophies, while giving the boys time to play Magic School Bus, which usually ends with games put away and begging, crying, whining, pleading for a Magic School Bus episode or two. Sure, the oldest one really is beyond MSB, but the youngest is right at the perfect age. I can instruct the oldest to get out the science encyclopedia and pretend he is reading it while glancing sideways to enjoy the show with his brother. Either way, it’s a win:win – happy momma.

Think about games that are educational in nature, or reinforce good educational goals like math mastery, sequencing, spelling, spacial reasoning. A few of our PJ day games include Rush Hour, Farkle, Money Bags, Block by Block

Cowboys and Indians and Mummies, Oh My! Whichever history period we’re studying, we have a few little plastic playsets of characters that fit right in. We got most of them from Hobby Lobby in their “these are boy toys” section with 40% off coupons. I planned ahead! They really are the coolest things..in a long tube for about $7.99 (and then 40% off!) So a 30 min, rainy day, Pajama activity might be getting out the figures, setting up lego towns/villages/boats, etc. to go with them and living what they’ve learned. But be forewarned! Sometimes, those little voices whispering about copic jars and what they’re going to do with the heart they just pulled out of a mummy might be something you’d want to check up on, even in your sick day, lay on the couch with a quart jar of Vap-o-Rub. Failure to do this might not make you a happy momma.

ART. My boys are finally really getting into arts and crafts and activities. So there’s a special art box just for Pajama Days. Full of fun stamps, glitter pens, wooden ornaments to decorate, and more. We do arts and crafts, normally, that are planned around our art theme that week, or something we’ve been studying. But PJ art time is just for them to create. It makes for a very happy momma (even if I do have a mess to clean up when I’m feeling better).

THE BEEBLER/BUCKLER: My two little Jimmy Olsons love to make their own newspapers and magazines. So PJ days are perfect for this activity. They can cut out photos from old magazines for their pages, write-up stories, do announcements, interviews, etc, and create a newspaper. It really helps with free writing that isn’t directed by the sick-on-the-couch momma, spelling mistakes just get  a raised eyebrow (and mental note for next spelling day), and there’s tons of creativity flowing, making momma very happy, indeed!

And then, there are just special school days when momma is feeling great, the world is right, the sky is blue, the temps are cozy, and she still declares, “PAJAMA DAY!” Doing math and spelling and writing just comes easier if you’re doing it in your pajamas!

Now it does sound like there are many laid-out-on-the-couch, sucking the bottle of Nyquil days at our house. There aren’t. But there are some days when I have to work a little longer than expected, and I don’t have school stuff out and ready and just need the boys to be occupied for 15 or 20 minutes. Or I have to make some business phone calls, etc. These items are great for pulling out, much like the busy boxes of our preschool days, and giving the boys some semi-educational time to occupy themselves with immediately vegging in front of the television, or standing there asking for something to do, or doing something TOTALLY out-of-bounds.

Do you have ideas for big-kid busy boxes?

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