One of my favourite parts of being a stay at home Mum to Sebastian is that I get to watch him learn, develop and grow on a daily basis. He is at an age now where he is constantly learning. Constantly soaking up everything around him, like a two year old sized sponge.
I like to foster this ability to learn. During the term time we go to play group and music one morning each a week. The other three mornings we spend our time practicing the art of play – free play, independent play, inside play and of course outside play. However, in the afternoons I try to set up an activity most days for him, an invitation to play (so to speak). One that encourages and fosters his ability to learn but also to explore. Quite often we get messy, wet, dirty and grubby, some days it is as simple as visiting a new park, or putting out a collection of puzzles and talking about them whilst doing them. I try to make these activities ones he can do by himself, activities where there is no right or wrong way of doing them. Just the time and ability to explore, create and of course play. The learning part just happens as a result.
A couple of months back I get up one such ‘invitation to play’ in the form of a threading box and it has been a hit ever since. Something we bring out on pretty much a weekly basis. A simple, fun and easy to set up activity which has provided endless hours of fun already. Initially I sat down with Sebastian and showed him what to do, but in no time at all he had figured it out and you could tell mummy being there was just getting in the way. So now he plays all by himself. Don’t get me wrong I am never far away, just taking an inactive role not hands on approach like those first few times.
To set up your own ‘Invitation to Play’ Threading Box you will need:
- Plastic container – I found one at our local craft store, it is perfect with all the little compartments for different types of beads, plus it is split level so I can store the pipe cleans and string underneath but all in the one spot
- Beads – use your imagination, I found some plastic and wooden beads of different shapes and sizes / wooden cotton reels / pasta with holes through it
- Pipe Cleaners – I threaded a small bead on one end and secured it on, so when Sebastian was doing the threading the other bigger beads didn’t fall off and cause frustration
- Small wooden dowels with string – the dowelling can be removed as they get more confident with threading but it is a good starting point
- Feathers – these are next on my lists to add to my box
This activity has evolved from threading items on to pipe cleaners to including conversations around colours, shapes, sizes, types (of beads) and counting. It encourages creativity, concentration, the development of fine motor skills and hand – eye co ordination. I now have quite a growing collection of specially made bracelets to wear, so does Daddy although he is not so keen to wear them to work (I’m not quite sure why not.. )!
What sort of activities does you toddler / preschooler like? Is this something you think you would like to try with them?