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This little activity is made from an empty cow and gate milk powder tub and a wrapping paper tube cut into three different lengths.  It’s easy to make and develops motor skills, the ability to match and sort and lots of fun for any child who like to empty and fill!! Most in that case!

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I wrapped the tub in some recycled wrapping paper and then stuck on the tubes using some double sided sticky pads. Finally, for the matching aspect, I stuck a pompom, button and lolly stick on each tube.  Obviously, whatever you decide to put in the tub are the items you’d stick on the tubes.

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I know so many children who love emptying and filling, so even without the matching element of the home-made game, the children will love it.  First off, we have one year old E having a play…

E began by opening the lid to the box and picking out single items. She immediately started putting these items down the corresponding tube attached to the front of the box. She enjoyed opening and closing the lid to retrieve each item, one at a time.

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The last time E played with pompoms she was afraid and kept chucking them at her Mummy! Today she began with the same fear but soon overcame it! When a child has a fear of something, or are unsure, it wouldn’t be right to force them to play with it but reintroducing something and reassuring them will usually lead to a positive outcome rather than an irrational fear!

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She soon became more intrigued by the contents of the box and examined them by peering inside. She became confident that she wanted all of the items to play with and tipped the box upside down to make sure she got every item out.

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Once they were all over the floor, of course she then wanted to put them back inside – she did this a few times before deciding that she wanted to examine each item more closely.

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Picking up individual items and looking closely at them meant E was rehearsing her pincer grip and developing her control to hold the small objects still. E started offering some to her Mummy asking ‘what’s that?’  After a while, she began throwing the pompoms (gross motor skills) and walking around the room with one in each hand.

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E sat down again and started poking at the pompoms with the lollipop sticks, as though she was using a fork to pick up food.  This is superb for her hand-eye coordination and the whole reason open ended play is so powerful.  Child-led play will always be at the child’s level as they are the ones deciding what to do and how to play.  A game where we dictate what should or shouldn’t be done will only ever have limited development for a child.

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Once E had explored the items and emptied and filled to her hearts content, she began putting the pompoms down the corresponding tubes.

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Next up, we have three year old J playing the same activity. J went in straight away and tipped the contents on the floor. There was no exploration of the materials as he has experienced and played with them MANY times before.

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As J began simply matching the items by posting down the correct tubes, I wondered what he would get from the activity besides fine motor development to handle the small items.  As I say, open-ended play can lead to anything.

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J began huffing and puffing! I thought he may have been bored by the activity. I asked him what was wrong and he said, ‘I post them but then they fall all over the floor!’  I said, ‘Well, what could you do to solve it?’  He scuttled off into the dining room and came back with a pot from one of his play stations! He couldn’t fit the pot under the long tube so huffed again! He then got two books from his library box and put the tub on them so that the pot could fit under! I was gobsmacked! As he posted the items, he aimed the pot so that it was under the right tube to catch each item! He loved it! Problem solving activity all lead by J and the open ended play! Told you it was valuable! Winking smile

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More problem solving occurred when one of the pompoms got stuck in the tube! He got a lolly stick and started poking it down to push the pompom out! It is because of the open-ended play activities I give to J that he is able to overcome such problems and I am in no doubt that this will only be a positive thing in J’s future education!

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What did E and J learn?

  • Fine motor development and development of pincer grip (both)
  • Matching a sorting (both)
  • Exploring new materials (E)
  • Overcoming problems (J)
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