I've long admired Montessori-inspired activities that appear to challenge all my ideas about what kids can manage, what they should be allowed to play with. The old “sure – give a 3 year old a knife” attitude is one I've had to cultivate. After a visit with new neighbors who have a whole box of adventurous “toys” including a hammer, it was time. A quick trip to the thrift store turned up three spice jars and we were off!
It's a small baking sheet, three jars, a coffee measure, a wooden spoon, a teaspoon and a whole lot of beans from the kitchen. My initial fear was beans everywhere. Beans on the floor, beans under the carpet, beans in clothes, beans, beans, beans. It happened, of course, a couple of times, but pouring into jars, pouring from jars onto tray, pouring from jar to jar, scooping with different tools – it was all much more fun than picking up individual beans from the ground. I think it helped to stay calm about the beans everywhere. I stopped him and started picking up beans. He saw and eventually helped as well. The tray is really helpful – it gives him boundaries.
All in all, it was a fun undertaking. Peanut was fully occupied for half an hour or so. This seems to be the right kind of activity for right now. With winter and lots of Dutch rain on its way, I'm hoping to develop a catalog of similar activities – and find the time to put them together, too. Another idea I have is to cut shapes out of sandpaper that can be used as rubbings. It occurs to me that if we make them together, it might actually get done. Or we could unpack. Hrm.... Any suggestions for more activities we could add to our repertoire?