In case you havent noticed, i am totally in love with felt – I think it has a magic quality to children’s hands. I keep a stash in my craft box to use whenever I am short of play ideas. Because simply, I can cut out anything – a car, a ball, an umbrella… – and Bean would be delighted to pretend it’s real, no matter how ugly it looks! (I never use a model, most of the time just cutting straight up and forming the shapes as I cut – so the shapes come out more “organic” than polished 😉
This is one such game last week: I took a big piece of felt as canvas (the piece is sometimes used as her Montessori “work mat”), then cut up some trees and a few curvy strips to represent the sea. Laid them all on the floor, adding a wooden boat on the “sea” and airplane on the sky, and the sun and cloud from her weather board. Then took out a bunch of animals and have Bean place them on the “landscape”.
The idea was for her to identify which animals live on land and which ones in water, and place them in appropriate places (use a tong to grip the animals for a fine motor skill exercise). Totally failed! All animals ended up in the jungle in Bean’s world – even turtles and sharks and what not (she didnt allow me to place them in “water”!) Ok – whatever you fancy babe. We had a kick at talking about the animals and playing hide and seek with them (animals hid under the trees).
Then we cleaned up and she put all the animals and pieces in her bag that now she brings with her everywhere. Not a bad idea as when we go out to restaurants she can keep herself occupied!
Lying on the floor to play with her made me realize something: no fancy toy replaces us being there, having fun with the kids for even as short as twenty minutes. No toy could teach them as much language skills, give them as much giggle. So what we need to do, instead of buying mountains of stuff or googling all day for creative educational activities, is carving out that uninterrupted twenty minutes, playing the most simple, fundamental games with them.
Because childhood is ultimately made of such small, unnamed memories…