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We all love a play date but whoever ends up hosting it, has the pressure of entertaining the kiddies (who are usually all different ages) and providing a few nibbles!  So, why not kill two birds with one stone and let the children prepare the cakes!! I’m not talking full on baking from scratch, although you can if you want to, I am talking about let them play whilst the adults have a chat!  I gathered some plain fairy cakes, very small chocolate beans (for developing that all important pincer grip) and some sticky jelly sweets to add a different sensory element.  Finally, I put out some squeeze tubes of icing to ‘write’ and draw with! On this play date, we had J (Aged 3 and 1 month) and E (Aged 1 and 2 months)…

Cake Motor skills

To begin with, E wasn’t sure what to do with the tubes of icing, so her Mummy modelled this for her, holding the tube together.  It wasn’t long before the independent E wanted to do it all by herself!

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E noticed that J was getting things from the middle section too and wanted to discover what was there – so she prodded at the chocolate beans with her tube!

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It didn’t take long before E confidently attacked the cake with her tube, digging out (we’ll call them decorative) holes in her fairy cake!  You can see the firm fist grip E has on her tube here! It is activities like this which will encourage E to use her fingers more effectively!

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Both E’s Mum and I couldn’t quite believe that neither of the children had put ANYTHING in their mouths yet!! Give them a sharp implement and that would be straight in there! Cake, chocolate and sweets? Oh no, they’ll wait a while for those!!  It did eventually happen though and J loved it a bit too much as the third photo will show!

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Whilst J discovered he could scoff the sweets whilst playing, little E was again rehearsing her pincer grip by trying to pick up those chocolate beans from my hand. She was able to pick them up but would quickly drop them!  Practise makes perfect though!  This didn’t detract from the fact that E was having a great time!

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With ever increasing confidence, E ventured across to J’s cakes (brave girl) and together they surprised us once again by working together beautifully!  First J helped E to squeeze the tube to get the icing out.

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Then they worked along side each other mimicking one another. This social interaction is an invaluable part of a play date and essential part of their development!  Whether they are the same age or learning to meet the needs of those older or younger is such a crucial aspect of their lives and should be experienced as much as possible!

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After lots of play, E was now very confident at knowing what to do and no longer prodded the sweets with her tube! She had learned how to decorate a cake and this was all done through playful discovery.

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Look at the beautiful beginning of a pincer grip below!! This is just a fantastic photo to show the E’s concentration and how valuable it is to provide experiences like this!

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E enjoyed discovering the sticky texture of the sweets too and kindly offered it to the adults! Bless her!

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What beautifully decorated cakes! Worthy of a shop window I’d say!! Winking smile

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Once that was over, the learning continued as E rehearsed feeding herself, J developed his motor skills further by screwing the lids back on the tubes! Perfect, simple and invaluable lessons learned!

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What did J and E learn?

  • Developed fine motor skills and pincer grip.
  • Used materials to interpret and create independently.
  • Developed social skills, sharing and taking turns.
  • Used language to ask questions and talk about what they were doing.
  • Used their senses to experience new tastes, smells and textures.
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