Whilst we always have a lot of fun learning new skills and creating decorative and useful items when crafting or cooking, providing an activity that I don't know exactly where it's going to lead is when I witness the most authentic learning and where I experience the most delight watching.
Providing 4 materials for my daughter to manipulate and explore on a mat is how I created this invitation for play. The rest was up to the child.
Here is the invitation to play
Bypassing all the animals, it was "plant making" time with the pipe cleaners and playdoh
Using coordination and fine motor skills to wrap one pipe cleaner around the other
The beginnings of a sculpture. Giving their brain a workout and using problem solving to make things stand up, stay upright, keep balanced etc.
This is perfect fine motor skill practice for young children. Simply wrapping pipe-cleaners around craft sticks
She spent a long time wrapping and wrapping and wrapping to create this beautiful "plant," using the playdoh as a stand
"I'm making a sun"
- Notice she didn't use the animals at all. Not once. This is fine. Allowing them to choose which materials they deem necessary to whatever they are creating is important for their own creativity and problem solving. Letting them know they don't have to use everything they see could be valuable for your child
- This activity really doesn't need to be simplified or extended. That is the beauty about open-ended play.
- Listen to your child talk as they go through their experiences. This will help you determine where they are at with their learning, knowledge and understanding and help you to develop the activity (or future activities) to their level and interests.
- This activity can be repeated time and time again with a different end result each time. You can also mix around and change some of the materials that you provide each time to inspire new ideas
- Use this time to demonstrate particular skills to them that they might be attempting unsuccessfully. Just learning to wrap something around an object might need some guidance. Wrapping a pipe cleaner around something solid and stable like a craft stick is easier than wrapping one around another pipe-cleaner. Start with the easier experience first and work up to the harder experiences.
- Make your child aware of the problem solving they are doing with questions and comments. "How did you get that pipe cleaner to stay on the end of the craft stick?" "Using the playdoh as a stand was a good idea to get your plant to stand upright" etc