Recently I got thinking about my boy’s favourite activities. This changes frequently of course, but I do believe children go through ‘stages’ and periods of particular interest. At the moment Me Now loves copying and helping me around the house (although he is less keen to practise these skills when asked to tidy up his own mess). One of his absolute favourites is pouring and scooping.
In our kitchen the boys have their own bar fridge which contains all of their snacks which they are allowed anytime (it saves me being asked all day for food!). They love the independence. It contains snacks such as cut up mushroom, cucumber, carrot and yoghurt which they often help to prepare. Me Now would happily live on these salad items. On top there is a drink station and inside a jug of milk which they can use easily rather than spilling a heavy 3L container.
Like his brothers, Me Now of course wanted to pour his own drinks, which lead me to introduce this activity some time ago. For a few months now he has been practising carefully pouring using dry ingredients such as beans and rice. Beans were good initially as they are larger and we did it in a very controlled manner sitting at the table. I now ‘trust’ him with potentially messy rice at his own kitchen (a standing up activity) and he keep most of the rice contained. He is very careful and his movements purposeful.
In this opportunity he was able to select from two scoops, deciding which would fit best for the containers provided, and deciding whether to scoop or pour. He has practised both of these activities separately so I now combine them so he can make choices. Over the coming days I added additional scooping tools
When we had visitors he used the tray to prepare them drinks and meals, adding his own cups and plates from the play kitchen by his own initiative.
I love that practical activities such as this are beneficial in so many ways. They are engaging and fun (Harry visits this activity multiple times a day), develop coordination and concentration, and in this instance gross as fine motor skills. At the same time it promotes independence and transfers to everyday skills such as pouring water at the dinner table which I am now confident to let him do, most of the time without a mess!
Our next ‘real’ kitchen exploration came from a morning making pancakes. The boys were ‘making’ pancakes in their play kitchen while I whipped up some for breakfast. Throughout the play I noticed Me Too interchanging flour and sugar. This seemed a perfect opportunity to explore these ingredients. We often talk about the purpose of ingredients in food, choice of food etc so this was a chance to further this conversation.
In setting up this tray I imagined Me Too feeling the sugar and flour and experiencing the similarities and differences. Using the scoop he could put some into a bowl and mix with water to see what happened…would it dissolve, form a paste etc?
He found the tray while I was busy with the other boys and spent some time exploring before coming to me…Mum the flour sticks to my fingers but the sugar doesn’t. Good observation!
We then went on to try running our fingers through the flour and sugar (It’s all about the sensory experience!) with both wet and dry hands. Me Too’s conclusion… that the flour is stickier when wet.
At this stage he has explored the ingredients in a different manner than I had ‘planned’ (isn’t it amazing how kids often think differently to adults!)…it will be interesting to see how this exploration evolves over the next few days.
My boys love spending time in the kitchen…perhaps because they see adults doing it every day, they gain enjoyment from and meet an essential need by eating the food they help make, and it has potential to great sensory experiences.