Here is a play invitation that helps the children to have fun while learning and checking off benchmarks ( for schools that are required to assess the children’s learning against benchmarks). The children in my home daycare have been learning and creating with loose parts from my Etsy shop – Mindful Playthings, my wardrobe, and our many communities walks, which help us gather nature bits.
Natural Loose Parts Play
To create this invitation – I placed the hoop on the table, and beside it was a tray of natural goodies.
What’s included in the play invitation?
- Wooden rings of varying sizes
- A mummified pumpkin that we’ve had for the last five years. What happened to the pumpkin? The story – the pumpkin was found between a piece of furniture and my sealed-off fireplace. Unknowingly it fell between that spot, and perhaps the heat of the air between both places mummified the pumpkin (I am still amazed at how beautiful yet wrinkled it is).
- Natural napkin rings (recycled)
- Nature bits – pinecones, sweetgum seeds from our nature walk, and sea beans from my Etsy store
- The frame used was an old hoop with a canopy over the sandbox. The wind and rain caused the fabric to rot, but I recycled the wooden ring. I guess any shaped hoop or empty picture frame can be used as a guide for children to place pieces within.
Look to the left, and you’ll see the children stacked some rings. During their play, I heard them say – this doesn’t fit; try this one, over here, in here. This activity also helped with problem-solving using different ways to place objects in the hoop. The children also used mathematics skills when placing objects – in, out, does it fit – is it too big, small, or just right?
Some benchmarks achieved per Illinois Standards – are active exploration, finding solutions, asking questions, logic and reasoning, attentiveness, persistence, and the mathematics learning standard. Illinois Preschool benchmarks can be found here
Fine motor activities and hand and eye coordination are usually nestled in many children’s play invitations. We spend time on fine motor building in the early years – the precursor for working on many life skills.
One of my students kept spinning the wooded rings; other friends joined the spinning fun. This is a case of how learning stacks and most activities blend into others; this extension of learning started earlier this year. From January to March 2022, we spent some time learning about shiny objects – within that inquiry; we had many metal bangles. I demonstrated how I could spin the bangles into an orb. Since then, the children have spent time spinning any hollow rings observing and listening for the sounds the object makes. The children experimented with the sounds; they noted that different sounds come from them when things are used in a particular manner. When they drop the rings, the sound differs from when they spin them around.
May you recycle objects for the children’s play inquiry and learning. I love when the children learn with things that are not labeled ‘for children’s play.’
Have fun spinning, orbing, stacking, learning, and creating like the children in my care do.
xoxo – Suzette Salmon – Miss Sue