I know lots of people look at these activities and the following things go through their mind: mess, pointless, not for me!
I’ll admit that it may just look like a tray of crap stuff but it has ENDLESS possibilities for learning and development. I promise!
What did I use to prepare?
- a plastic, shallow tub covered in foil (tub from a £1 shop)
- purple feathers
- strips of organza (£1 shop)
- artificial petals (£1 shop)
- small, plastic tubs with a lid (12 for £1)
I’ve had all of these things for years and they have been used over and over again for so many games and activities. It literally took less than two minutes to set up.
Having the two girls who are only 16 months apart, we generally need two identical activities set up so that they don’t have a hissy fit! Sometimes they will share beautifully but today was NOT one of those days! The girls played beautifully alongside each other and the younger of the two, Miss M, definitely looked at what her older sister was doing and tried to imitate her as best she could. The speech that comes from these kind of sensory, open ended activities never fails to surprise me! To begin with, Miss M was asking me what things were and then she would repeat the word over and over, rehearsing how to say it. She was saying things like, ‘pretty petal,’ ‘purple,’ ‘ribbon,’ ‘feather,’ and so on. Miss G loved being the older one and praised her sister for saying the words correctly.
They naturally explored the feel of the objects and talked about what they discovered. Miss M talked more about the colour and name of the objects, whereas Miss G talked about the texture, shape and so on. G rubbed the feathers on her cheeks and did the same to Miss M. Miss M then announcing that it, ‘tickled!’
It was a big confidence boost for Miss G to be the more experienced one in this activity. She explained to me that she could make everything purple if she put the ribbon over her eyes. She went on to show Miss M what happens when it’s over your eyes. A great opportunity for interaction that was focussed and purposeful. G said she would be gentle as she put the ribbon over M’s eyes, again giving G a sense of responsibility with her younger sister.
As well as the rehearsal of vocabulary during this activity, they also had an oral workout, developing the muscles around their mouths. How? Simply by blowing the feathers. To find out more about the importance of this kind of exercise, click HERE.
Miss G and Miss M did eventually work together. As the top left photograph tells you, Miss M had very little choice in the matter!!! G decided that if they put both their tubs together, they could sort all of the items into a ‘purple pot’ and a ‘pink pot.’ This was something I hoped might come up as I purposefully only put two colours in their trays. G loves these two colours so I had a feeling she would notice. M was reprimanded several times for putting the wrong colour in the wrong pot, ‘no babe, you’ve got to think!’ I was in hysterics at this comment!! The bottom right photo, demonstrates how carefully Miss M was looking at the petals to decide what colour it was! Bless her heart, ‘Orange Mummy??’ M asked as an exasperated Miss G rolled her eyes and plodded on with the sorting!
Once sorted, they were tipped out immediately and they both went back to playing on their own! I had to basically put all their bits back into the pots to restart the activity as a, ‘NO THAT’S MINE’ war had started! Harmony restored and G started putting the petals into the little tubs. She then took them out and started counting them. She didn’t always stop once she had counted them all though and kept going round and round. Something we need to work on! As well as this, she stacked the tubs making a tower and counting how many she had stacked.
It was at this point that M noticed the tubs. She examined G’s tower and then started to rehearse taking the lid on and off. A little fine motor activity to complete this wonderful open-ended game. Hopefully, I have convinced you that this simple activity is anything but a tray of… mess and actually a tray of endless learning! As if that isn’t reason enough to give this a go, I ALSO got to drink a HOT cup of tea! Another lovely thing with activities like this? We could get it out again in a week and a WHOLE other way of learning may occur!