Adding rubber bands to loose parts invitation created another dimension of play. One morning a child observed me using a rubber band to close a bag. She said, “Miss Sue can I use this one?” I looked around and noticed she pointed to the bag of rubber bands. I asked for clarification, and she nodded yes, then said, “that one, Sue Sue!” I quickly ran, gathered some loose parts, and added some rubber bands to the table. This is what she did.
With glee in my eyes, I watched her discover the use of these elastic / rubber bands, which are bigger than the hair ties she’s accustomed to. At first, she tried wrapping them around some wooden cookies and a wooden tree. However, she spent more time working with them on the wooden animals.
This activity encourages creativity, it helps children develop mastery through practice, and this was perfect for my child, who loves to work independently.
Some may ask how this aligns with any benchmark/assessment. Let’s think science exploration of the rubber band at its rest state versus its extended state and how the child had to stretch the material. Could it be further extended, and if so, what could happen? How did she manipulate the materials for them to fit around the objects? How about her muscles and fingers? This activity helps with fine motor building -strength and control of her fingers, coordinated movements, and hand-and-eye coordination. Please note my reference for benchmarks was taken from The Early Learning and Development Standards for Illinois. Your state or country may vary, but I encourage educators to continue to think outside of the box. This higher level of thinking will help to support EACH child within your Early Years Environment, especially if you are a home educator with a smaller children ratio as I am.
She is my quiet child who loves to engage in solo activities/works independently. This activity captivated her for hours that day- I usually leave invitations on this table for as long as the children use them or show interest. It so happened that the other children also showed a lot of interest, and this was available to them for over two weeks for their practice and mastery. In our mixed-age environment, some investigations begin with the interest of one child and then dominoes into further participation and inquiry from the other children. I could have extended their learning with this inquiry, but we have been very busy learning outdoors with the season and animals. Also, working by myself, I can’t possibly extend all inquiries.
Side note – this table I snagged from Facebook Marketplace for only $20.
The elastic bands were purchased from Office Depot. I would try Amazon and Walmart for these too. I had a provider ask about the risk of having elastic bands in my care. I do not perceive these as a risk to environments where children engage with many loose parts, learning stories, communication, and modeling are openly shared, as in my case. However, we know not all environments are the same; therefore, I encourage educators to discuss the appropriate and safe use of elastic bands before the activity, also think about the ages of the children in your care.
Here is the story of the feather you see on the table – this child loves feathers. During the summer months, she could spot a feather meters away. I often refer to her eagle vision. Due to her affinity for feathers, she has easy access to them as they are part of our environment. During her play investigation, she got two feathers, a pink and a white feather.
Here you will see she created with the feathers. The wood cookie with the pink feather she called a boat, and the one with the white feather she called a fish, and these she made for Miss Sue ( I am very special to the children).
Here is a condensed video of some of her play and persistence.
May your love radiate your classroom, as you learn and grow with the children in your care.
xoxo Miss Sue – Suzette Salmon