Filling and emptying things is a big part of childhood… like, really big! My almost 1 year old loves it, at The Fern Club our big boy 7 year olds love it too. So what makes it such a big hit and why do we stop doing this as we get older?
My son is almost 1 and for the last few months his favourite toy (even more than his absolute favourite toy… his granny) has been an empty bottle or tin and putting little things in it. We’ve given him things which will fill that need for emptying and filling in so many different ways; a milk container and wooden marbles, an empty tea tin and pinecones, a plastic bottle and little sticks…the list goes on! This part of childhood is a really big one, that realisation that things can go in… well, other things!
It’s been amazing to see how each child approaches this activity but there are some really important milestones and real world realisations which are happening.
The exploration of transporting objects to containers allows children to examine space, movement of objects and volumes. It also allows them to explore how permanent an object is and also how to encompass it.
The repetitive movements allow them to refine and master skills like pouring and aiming, it also helps to calm as they find their flow. This semi-meditative state is something we saw all week during our classes. The little black-eye beans being scooped up and dropped into the demijohns allowed the children to slow down and become more accurate in their approach. Any quick sudden movements were very rarely rewarded with successful filling!
Children as they get older will lose this innate need to fill and empty objects because they master the skill quite simply. But don’t put away those containers just yet, give them chance to master the skill in more complex ways!
If your little one is beyond 6-7 years try these skills to prolong that wonder, creativity and give them some more real life, real world skills to master along the same path.
- Give them a set of weighing scales and a “target” number to reach. Once they’ve achieved it, set another one! And if that becomes too easy, how’s about mixing a recipe all by themself?
- Play with water and set levels to reach on the side of a bottle. Lines drawn in a marker pen on the side can provide a challenge as they fill to reach the line. Anything over the line and they’ll have to start again from scratch!
- How’s about mixing solids and liquids with a healthy risk taking – can they help make a cup of coffee or hot chocolate? Give them a jug, a lighter alternative to a heavy kettle to pour the hot water.
So this weeks #steammsunday is a simple one. Get moving by filling and emptying!