25 October 2011

Play: Beans, Beans Everywhere!


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?


  1. If you can find crafting foam sheets, you can spend hours drawing simple shapes for your little one to cut out. the foam is great: when it's bath time, just put the shapes in the water with the kid, and let him stick them to the tiles! we made lots of different "tile paintings" like that. The same shapes (dry) can become little fishes: attach a paperclip or two to them, make a fishing rod (mine was a kitchen wooden spoon and some kitchen twine) attach a fridge magnet at the bottom, and your boy will enjoy indoor fishing.

  2. I love the tray idea, hadn't thought of that!

    Other activities, contact paper on the window with tissue paper. That keeps us busy for awhile.

  3. ...beans...colored rice/pasta (very easy to make with hand sanitizer and food coloring) ...shredded paper (always good fun) ...couscous...loads of options for the sensory box ...we had corn flour, water and pumpkin seeds this week ..messy play :-)





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