Invitation to Play. Pinecones, playdough and pompoms

Jul 19, 2014

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We have many pine trees around where we live so every time we go for a walk, the kids are bound to come home with at least a couple of pinecones to add to the collection. 

In a simple Invitation to play, I set out some of the pinecones alongside some of our homemade playdough and pompoms. 

We used this activity to further fine motor skills, creativity, sensory development, language, learn colours, textures, letter sound knowledge and more. Mainly just for fun though. :)

Ages: 12 months+
(See the handy tips at the bottom for ideas to suit your child's needs)

Materials used:
For my younger son (2.5), I started off a pinecone, using the playdough to stand it up in and the pompoms to decorate around the pinecone, to give him some direction.

My older daughter (5.5) needed no such encouragement or examples. She was set to use the materials as she saw fit.

Finding gaps to fit the pompoms was challenging for my toddler. He really had to utilise his fine-motor skills and pincer grip to get the pompoms and attempt to squish them into gaps and make them stay.

These types of open-ended, tactile, creative experiences work well for both my children of different age groups. I love the peer learning that takes place, plus the laughter and discussions that come from working side-by-side.

We discussed colour, size, texture, patterns and more.

I love watching them be focused and able to concentrate on tasks for a period of time. You can usually expect that the older the child, the longer they will be able to remain focused and concentrating on the task.

Even after Noah had lost interest, Maddie spent quite some time ensuring that each pine-cone was as decorated and beautiful as it could be. I loved watching her flair for creativity as she encircled them with pom-poms and displayed them for us all to see.

Handy Tips

Simplify this activity by searching for pinecones with big, wide gaps. This will make it easier for little fingers to manipulate the pom-poms to stay in. The squishier the pom-poms, the easier it is to fit them in the gaps.

Extend this activity by:
  • Working in some counting and grouping. Each pine-cone could represent a different value that the children have to match. (ie, 5 pompoms in the number 5 pine-cone)
  • Allowing children to free play with their materials and then draw or write about their experience or what they made
  • Use as a beginning activity for some creative story writing about magical coloured pine-cones
  • Have children first make the playdough themselves

Mix it up by adding in a variety of embellishments such as pipe-cleaners, sequins, beads, matchsticks etc. to further decorate each pinecone.

- Use descriptive language that goes with this experience to help develop your child's vocabulary. Eg. "squishy, gap, space, fit, manipulate, pompom, pinecone" etc.

-  Playdough is a material that we tend to use daily. Here are just a few of the other ways we've played with it. Click the  pictures to take you to the activities.

 Length, Measurement & Patterning with Playdough Snakes. Hands-on, Playful Maths for kids.          playdough activity, open ended, sensory activity  toddler, kids, activities for kids, fine motor skills, playdoh, pipe cleaners  play dough, kids activity, science 

Happy playing,
Debs :)

We like to play here as well. Come play with us :)
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