By Janette from Explore and Learn Toddler
Play comes naturally to most children. They love to explore, poke at things and move them about in ways that they’re probably not designed to be moved. In doing all of these things that we often look at as ‘messy’ or ‘destructive’, our children are exploring and learning. They are learning in the most valuable way – through play!
Albert Einstein once said “Play is the highest form of research” – how true this is! When playing, our children are researching how the world works around them. While playing, they are building their vocabularies, practising talking and building their finger muscles (especially important for fine motor skills used in writing, drawing, colouring, cutting and manipulating objects).
Knowing that our children are researching and learning through play, we need to make sure that we are embracing this – giving them an invitation to Explore and Learn, an opportunity to learn through play.
I love to use my own imagination and set up invitations for my oldest son (22 months) to play! While he has his day sleep, I often have something set up for him in the afternoon to embrace his research skills, inviting him to explore, learn and play in a different way. This also helps keep an active mind and body entertained!
This activity was simply 2 boxes and a sample of toys on a play mat. Straight away my DS started to experiment with what could go in the box and was using words like big and small. On top of his learning experience he was entertained for well over an hour!
This invitation to Explore and Learn is sticky contact paper stuck on the window with blutac (sticky side out) with cut up pieces of coloured paper to stick on.
I’ve drawn shapes on the reverse side to see whether he explores ‘in’ and ‘out’ or the names of shapes.
This type of activity helps develop fine motor skills and that important pincer finger grip that is needed for writing, drawing and colouring.
Once my son had finished his sticking, I stuck it onto a large piece of white paper so that we could hang it up on our art wall.
Invitations to Explore and Learn are such an exciting way to play with and alongside your toddler, while also encouraging independent play and exploration. They don’t need to be tiresome or overthought. Toddler’s love to explore and learn just about anything, they are fresh to the world that we live in and have lots to discover! I love the look on my son’s face when he comes out from his nap to find out what he’s going to be exploring in the afternoon!
Janette is a Primary School Teacher who loves to watch her two boys, Cian and Sam, and other children play and discover. Her business, Explore and Learn Toddler was born out of her passion for hands-on and real-life learning and aims to support families with helping their kids learn through play. Don’t forget to pop over and take a peek at their regular toddler and preschooler learning activities blog and awesome wooden toy range, as well as lots of other great resources, or check out her facebook page. To see all of Janette’s articles, click here.