Scooping and pouring activities are a lot of fun for little ones. They’re also important skills to have and incorporate a little bit of math into their play as well as some experimenting and problem solving. This playful learning activity also allows the little one to make some choices, such as which tool to use and how to use it. There’s no right or wrong way to play (as long as it’s safe, of course)!
Every child is different, and Buddy Boy was much more into tasting things than his sister was. So, I held off on most of the scooping and pouring sensory play that we did with Sweet Pea when she was 10ish months old. But, we were at the store a few days ago, near the bulk bins, so I picked up some toasted rice cereal and decided to give it a try for sensory play. I chose toasted rice cereal because it is safe for Buddy Boy to eat, and, when he spills it, it’s something the Clean up Crew (aka, our dogs) will eat, making clean up a breeze for me.
Just like with Sweet Pea, I grabbed stuff from the kitchen drawers, including things that didn’t seem like they’d be very useful (non-examples are good when they’re older, so why not now too?). It was time to show it to Buddy Boy, who had just finished lunch… a full little one = one that’s less likely to taste stuff (in theory, anyway).
And, let this be his after lunch snack (not quite sure it counts as a dessert)! The first thing he did was grab a handful to taste. Then another. And another. Thankfully, I anticipated this and mopped the floor before the activity, so it wasn’t a big deal when he sat down to eat what he had spilled all over the floor. Another idea is to put down a shower curtain or table cloth so that cleaning up is easier because the mess is contained to the shower curtain or table cloth. It also provides a clear area for your little one to do the activity.
As predicted, the dogs enjoyed the snack too. 🙂 After the initial excitement, Buddy Boy ended up playing mostly with a spoon and measuring cup for about 20 minutes, which is quite a while for someone who isn’t quite 1 yet. The spoon made fun sounds in the grout, in the cup, on the table…
So, while this wasn’t the activity I planned, I’m glad we did it. Buddy Boy had fun playing with kitchen utensils, experimenting with sound, and eating a different “snack,” partly with a few of the dogs. Since he’s too little to tell me what he learned or liked best, I’ll never know, but I’m sure he got something from it. And, if I wasn’t typing this article, and talking about what he was doing, I would have had about 25 minutes when it was all said and done with a baby occupied. Not bad!
Oh, and I ended up scooping out about a half cup of cereal after he was done playing, and putting it in a smaller container for him to play with. He enjoyed being able to hold the container and shovel food into his mouth. I’ll stick the rest in a Ziploc and use it again next time. This activity would also work well with other cereals, but I chose toasted rice cereal because it was small, wasn’t something he had eaten before (so he was less likely to initially associate it with food), was safe for the dogs to eat (I knew it’d end up on the floor, and, I’ll be honest- I utilize them to clean up the floor ALL.THE.TIME.), and wouldn’t attract ants if we missed a few pieces somewhere. What types of things does your little one like scooping and pouring?