I bought this lovely aquarium gravel ages ago and have been dying to use it. On this rainy day, I thought today was perfect day. It took no more than five minutes to set up. We used all the resources and things in the home we already have and J played with it on and off ALL day for an hour and half at a time. The aquarium gravel cost £2.50 and will be used over and over again. This week, I aim to show several ways it can be used!
To provide J with an attractive sensory bin, I included:
- Blue and green aquarium gravel in a shallow tub
- Two plant pots
- A mini sieve
- A plastic tub with a lid
- Two cardboard gift boxes
- A wooden see-saw
- Measuring scoops
- Two left over mini cow and gate milk scoops
I gave J no instruction. The attractive presentation of the sensory bin was enough to draw him in and his imagination, natural curiosity and creative mind was enough to entertain him and develop natural learning journeys throughout the day! Meanwhile, I attacked the 75 loads of washing that have piled up over the weekend! Seriously, where does it all come from??!
J immediately used the see-saw to explore the gravel. He piled it on at different point of the see-saw to see what would happen.
He was truly engrossed and talked about balancing throughout this exploration…
J loved adding more to one of the sides of the see-saw and watching it see or saw! It made him giggle each time and he said it because one side was the heaviest! What a great conclusion scientist J!
Of course there was a lot of scooping and pouring with the measuring cups. J insisted he scoop with the smallest measure and pour it into the next size up and so on until it filled the largest scoop!
J filled all of the boxes and tubs at various points, making shakers for Baby G and walking around the kitchen shaking them and wiggling his body as he did so. He encountered a problem with the plant pots though as they had holes in the bottom. He said, ‘Mummy, these holes are annoying me, all the stones keep falling through.’ I asked him if he knew how to stop it and he said he had an idea. I stopped what I was doing and watched him. First of all he filled the plastic tub with the gravel…
… he put the lid on and put the plastic tub inside the plant pot. He held it up and said, ‘See Mummy, it doesn’t spill any more!’ Coming across problems naturally and solving them through exploration and play is SUCH as valuable and powerful learning opportunity and it is only this kind of open-ended play that allows for these natural discoveries.
After around thirty five minutes of play, J took out all of the tools and started scooping the gravel over to the side. At first, I couldn’t hear what he was whispering to himself as I was busy (with the washing!! Grrr) Luckily, this play went on for 45 minutes! He had decided that the gravel was ‘magic beans’ and he had to save them all and keep them all together before the giant came!
Every now and then he would scream, ‘Arrrr, the giant’s coming!’ He would then hide under the table. He was so engrossed in his play, he even had his snack under there!
After this play, J started hiding items in the gravel and asking me to find them! He was SO excited because he had made a game for Mummy!
Throughout the day, J played with the sensory tub in so many ways. He got pastry cutters out and poured the gravel inside. He was very disappointed when they didn’t hold their position once the cutter was removed.
Later this afternoon, J went back to the sensory bin (after I’d made it look inviting again!) and put the see-saw on top of the silver gift box. He then put weight on the one side of the see-saw and poured the gravel down it so that it would pour into the gold box. He did this for about twenty minutes.
There will be more from this sensory tub tomorrow but I’m going to change it up a bit! Can’t wait to see what happens next!
What did J learn?
- Problem solving
- Discovery and exploration
- Fine motor development
- Control and coordination when pouring and scooping
- Balance and weight through see-saw play
- Imaginary play