A parent's life is a complicated one. There's the never ending list of things to remember and an even longer list of things to get done. Just when you think you've got it all figured out, your child's schedule or family needs change and you've got to find your way all over again. When we get caught up in the daily grind, its easy to overlook some of the best (and easiest) teachable moments.
I know when I see all of the amazing activities and ideas from fellow bloggers about what to do with young children, I get a bit overwhelmed. I wish I could do all these incredible things. While I enjoy getting creative and going the extra mile every once in a while, I simply don't have the energy for it everyday. When I feel like throwing my hands up, I remind myself that the richest play and learning experiences for children are the ones that provide opportunities for experimentation, exploration, curiosity, problem solving, social interaction, physical development...and all of these things can be found in the simple tasks we set out to do each day.
Our new Back to Basics series is a reminder to parents that you don't need fancy toys or a degree in education to provide teachable moments for your child. You do need to slow down, ask questions, and provide time and space for your child to gain knowledge, build confidence and draw conclusions about their environment.
Food provides an all around sensory experience for children. During mealtime, they see new shapes and colors, feel different textures, hear new sounds and of course, taste new flavors.
Kz is old enough to be eating a wide array of solid foods. We are thoughtful about the taste and texture of the foods we offer and he is pretty accepting of all things edible (and not). On this particular day, Kz was eating Pastina with chicken broth. He LOVED the tiny stars. He kicked his feet and wiggled with excitement with every spoonful. On any other day, I might have hurried to clean up and move onto something else but seeing him so interested in the food prompted me to slow down, and take some time to let him play and learn.
The first thing he went for was the spoon. Kz likes to feed himself and while we provide plenty of cut up finger foods for him to eat, the spoon is his favorite tool. He chews it, bangs it, and well, does everything but eat with it. Once he asks for the spoon, it's safe to assume that his belly is full and he's ready to play.
The Pastina are very tiny but Kz was determined to grab some of them. He worked hard to pinch them between his thumb and forefinger. He keenly went for the clumps of Pastina that were a bit larger and was psyched when the reward was a mouthful of yummy starts. Every so often, he was able to pick up a single one, but the sticky stars became cheek decorations when he missed his mouth.
Taking a closer look.
Learning about the nature of things that are small and sticky.
Kz pushed the stars around with his spoon, squished them between his fingers, rubbed them all around the tray and attempted to taste every last one. The result was a happy (and messy) baby who got some great fine motor practice and tons of sensory fun!
Try adding water or a number of foods in separate compartments on the tray for mixing. I try as best I can to have Kz play with leftovers from mealtime or food that can no longer be saved. You may opt to cook up a little something specifically for play like Jello, jelly or pudding. All three are perfect for squishy, edible, sensory play.