Exploratory Play Session 1- Success!

This afternoon while Hula Girl ate her snack, I put a large mixing bowl of water on a towel in the kitchen. I put a spatula, whisk, spaghetti server thing, spork, basting brush, measuring spoons, and some rubbermaid containers on the towel with the bowl. I was singing a silly little tune to myself while I worked, and Hula Girl watched with interest but didn’t comment.

After she got done with her snack, she took off to go toward the living room, but then turned and went into the kitchen. Then she looked at what I’d laid out, and took a step forward. She then asked me to come sit down. So I sat on the carpet near the kitchen floor, just far enough away that I wouldn’t be tempted to intervene in her play.

She gingerly grabbed the basting brush and dipped it into the water and then put it in the small container so it could drip in there. After that moment, all her careful behavior went away, and she went wild. I thought it was amazing because I did not say anything except things like, “I see that you have the yellow measuring spoon. Wow, the water can pour from the small container into the big bowl,” and things of that nature (Rachel or Katie, I hope you read this).

I had to stop myself from talking when she first tried to pour water from one container to the next and I could see that she was definitely going to miss. Sure enough, water splashed all over the towel and she said, “Oopie. Wawa pill.” (Oopsies, the water spilled.) She looked at me and I said, “Yes, the water spilled.” I didn’t say anything about being more careful or assure her it was okay or anything. I just made her same observation back to her. She immediately turned away from me and kept playing. Wow.

She played for 23 minutes before she started straying away. At that point, she was pretty wet (and our house is cold), and it was almost time to go upstairs for her milk and independent playtime. So, I had her help me clean up by handing me the utensils. Then she watched me use the towel to wipe up the stray water from the floor.

My very favorite thing about this whole entire experience was how happy she was. She would take a break from the water to run a lap around the staircase. Then, she’d take a break to gallop like a horse. And then she’d tell me, “Happy, happy, happy!” She was just so excited to be doing this whole thing by herself, with no direction from me. She got to pour and splash and whisk and drip, all to her liking. What fun for her!

I can’t wait to think of some more fun stations to place around the house. The water one is somewhat labor-intensive and cleaning up a lot of water with a little towel can cause dampness in the sock area, but I think we can come up with a lot of dry activities, as well. I’m thinking of doing a lot of sensory activities, like putting a bunch of tissue paper in a paper bag and letting her do with it what she will. Or filling a basket with socks, sprinkling a few “surprise” items in, like blocks or cups, then letting her dig in. I’m going to make a list tonight and go shopping for supplies tomorrow. I’m going to hit the dollar store, since they have a lot of random awesome things for cheap! If you can think of any great ideas, let me know! I would really appreciate any input!



  1. Carol said,

    January 27, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Check my pinterest account for a lot of sensory things that can be made from just household stuff. There was some great website that had LOTS of ideas and I think I posted one of them. Let me know if you can’t find it and I’ll look for it for you.

  2. Carrie Hammel said,

    January 27, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    My favorite to do with the kids was th noisiest! Pots, pans and spoons to bang till they were content! I love reading your posts even though my little one will be 16 soon!! Miss you all 🙂 glad to hear she is enjoying her time and you are enjoying the process of watching!

    • January 27, 2012 at 8:10 pm

      Carrie- I SO wish she’d bang on stuff! She seems to be wary of too much noise. Trust me, I would have those pots and pans out 24/7 if I could! 🙂 Miss you VERY much as well, and think about you daily. And no WAY will she be 16… such a baby! 😛

  3. Rachel said,

    January 27, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Things of that nature! Oh my goodness! Here’s hoping you don’t have a gigantic, nasty “sunburn” on your lip as well!

  4. kate said,

    January 28, 2012 at 4:42 am

    Ohhh was so excited to read this!!! Congrats on the big success and such a sweet simple and happy time! sounds like you both learnt a lot that day, huh! Wonderful…. Oh and for some great inspiration in ‘hands off play’ check out this teacher’s blog http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/ He always inspires me to try to step back a little! Love PlayatHome mom too!

    • January 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm

      Thanks for the blog recommendation! I was just going to start a search for some more ideas- now I have a jumping off point!

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