Do you ever give your child an invitation to learn or play?
(or the best of both worlds, learning whilst playing!) Or does this scenario sound familiar…
MOM: Hey, why don’t we do this cool craft?
KID: OK, how do we make it?
MOM: Just a second, I will get the things we need…wanders off looking for the scissors that have disappeared again and where did that empty box go?
KID: *sigh* ohh look Lego….
MOM: Will be right there sweetie…did I leave the tape upstairs?
KID: Huh, yeah…
MOM: OK, here we go, let’s do it!
KID: Not now mommy, I’m building a spaceship for Peppa Pig
MOM: Aghhhh why do I bother?
Annoying isn’t it? You spend time trying to do something fun and educational with them but they are more interested in Peppa Pigs underpants! Or whatever!
There are ways around this issue though but it does require some organization on your behalf – which, let’s face it, is better than wasting your time and the kids not even looking at what you have put together.
Kids are by nature, curious.
So, as parents we should use this to our advantage. The idea is to have the materials ready and laid out for when the child arrives at the scene. I often do this at night, once Ebi-kun is in bed so that the new activity is ready for the morning. If I wanted to use it in the afternoon I would prepare it at night then put it on a high shelf until I was ready to use it. You could also prepare something so it’s ready when you child gets back from school or kindy or have a tray set up so when the baby goes to sleep you are ready for some precious 1:1 time with the older one.
I like using a tray for this kind of thing, it is easy to get everything together and if you have a Montessori style set up, it is easy to add to the shelf. Small trays that are a good size for the child to use are the best to go for. I found most of ours in the ¥100 store ($ store)
- Decide on the activity
- Get everything you will need for the activity together, don’t forget a workmat and a cloth for spills & an apron if it is something messy
- Place all the items in an inviting fashion either on the table or on a tray
- Set up or get the tray out before the child enters the room (if possible).
- DON’T make a point of telling the child about the activity, wait for them to discover it. If all goes to plan (and let’s be honest here, sometimes it doesn’t) the child will be drawn to the materials and will be curious on what you have planned.
- Model how to do the experiment if that is needed or just allow the child to run with it as see what they come up with.
Open ended activities work equally well as experiments or more specific ideas. It is a great way to introduce new artist mediums or science experiments or just for open ended, imaginative play.
Here are a few ideas to get you going…
Exploring with magnets
Sink or float
Presentation is everything. If you just pile everything in a mess on the tray or table, the child will be thinking “Hmm looks like mommy is cleaning out the drawer or something” it won’t look inviting and the child won’t be interested. Spending 30 seconds to lay everything out neatly will make a world of difference. I’d love to know how you get on with this, drop me a line or share you pics of your set up and your little one using it over on my Moms That Rock FB group Facebook page.