Today we headed off to Soft Play. For the first time in a while we weren’t restricted by any time constraints with the baby’s morning and post lunch naps so I took my son and my 2.5 year old mindee off to Soft Play. The last time I went was with a school aged mindee in the school holidays.
To say they loved it is somewhat of an understatement! I loved seeing them run around enjoying themselves (Physical Development), interacting with other children (Communication & Language) and managing their behaviour and feelings over sharing toys with strangers (Personal, Social and Emotional Development). I even observed some mathematical learning (Mathematics) taking place as they had fun fitting large foam shapes in to the corresponding shapes on the wall (circle, hexagon, triangle and square)!
When done occasionally in this way these kind of outings can be real treats and I think this contributed to their excitement.
Love it or hate it Soft Play provides many benefits for children as I witnessed today covering many areas of learning and an excellent chance to observe some Characteristics of Effective Learning.
As childminders it is not only our responsibility to provide the children with a wide range of attractive resources and activities to enjoy but to also spot opportunities to extend their play where we can.
Water play is a favourite activity here. I provide a range of resources to extend children’s play – numerous jugs of different sizes, measuring cylinders, sieves, funnels and water wheels all help children explore water further. Buckets of water and dolls for washing dolls is another great way of developing personal social and emotional development skills.
Playdough is another firm favourite here which is out most days. To extend children’s play in this area I provide a number of tools, number and letter cutters to help with numeracy and literacy and dough extruders to further develop fine motor skills. The introduction of loose parts such as bottle tops and straws also helps extend play.
The other area of play I have recently identified that could be extended is our much favoured duplo. Again, this is out most days. With some of the children now learning their numbers I realised that the enjoyment they have in making towers and tall structures could be combined with some measuring activities so plan to introduce tape measures, rulers, number lines and string alongside the duplo.
Playing with all manner of blocks is a hugely popular activity here at Aston Childcare. We have a variety of blocks the children love to play with – Large foam blocks, Small foam blocks, wooden number and alphabet blocks, Duplo blocks, Megablocks, natural coloured wooden construction and brightly coloured wooden construction blocks. However, it wasn’t until I completed some recent training in emerging maths skills in the early years that I stopped to think how much the children were learning and gaining from such a simple activity.
The course stated that –
It’s been more than two hundred years since Friedrich Froebel introduced wooden shapes for children to explore, take apart, and put together. Since then, blocks have been shown to aid the development of young children. Jean Piaget’s theory of stages, for instance, tells us that children develop social, physical, and logico-mathematical knowledge through playing with manipulative materials such as blocks.
It went on to say how Block play supports the development of children’s problem-solving, shape, size and pattern reasoning by providing opportunities to count for a purpose and use the language of quantity and size (more, fewer, longer, shorter etc).
It also explained how Children gain direct experience of the properties of shapes, how to describe shapes, how to use the correct mathematical terms to describe shapes, and how the different blocks fit together.
And explained how it related to measure When children play with blocks, they are practicing mathematical skills. In selecting blocks of different sizes and shapes and comparing surface volumes and areas, for example, they are unwittingly using classification and seriation (Hirsch, 1996).
Block play involves measuring lengths, widths, and heights (if only by eye) and therefore supports children to develop their ability to visualise how a finished structure may look” .
It was so nice to learn that something we have out every day here was helping the children in their emerging maths skills as well as covering other areas of learning too.
Areas of Learning Covered: Mathematics, Communication & Language, Expressive Arts and Design, Physical Development and Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
With the rain beating down outside, it seemed like the perfect day to break out the playdough! It takes just minutes to prepare and is incredibly therapeutic, not only for children but for a busy mum and childminder too!
I’ll be adding some more colours to extend our play in the coming weeks.
With the nearest beach over 80 miles from us, we bought the beach to us today, well, kind of! Sand and Water Play is great for helping promote a child’s development and is perfect for days like today.