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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Five-Minute Fillers: Tongs and Pom Poms

We have been a little concerned about our second son's tendency to ask for electronic devices. Mark and I discussed this and realised he asks to watch TV because he is bored, and because he picks things up so quickly, we need to have a whole range of activities to keep him meaningfully engaged throughout the day.

This afternoon, his brother was out and I had him all to myself, so it was the perfect time to stretch his attention span and build his fine motor skills. We took out his favourite pom poms and I decided to add some tongs and a muffin pan to the picture. Here's what we did.
Materials needed:
- Pom poms
- Tongs (I used the kind we had from our sterilising bottle days)
- Tray/ shallow container
- Muffin pan
- Water bottle with drinking spout
- Whatever else that would catch your toddler's imagination!
Steps: 
Show your toddler how to use the tongs to pick the pom poms from the tray and release them into the compartments of the muffin pan. You can try asking him to sort the pom poms by colour or size, or he can just have fun seeing how many can fit into one section. When he is happily satisfied (mine took at least 20 minutes with this task), you can show him how to use the tongs to transfer the balls into the bottle and to squeeze them into the spout using one end of the tongs. The final result - a bottle full of colourful balls he can use as a shaker!

Possible Learning Explorations:
Fine motor skills: squeezing of the tongs, transferring and squeezing pom poms into the bottle
Sorting according to colour and size
Estimation of volume, counting

Feel free to vary the task depending on your toddler's developmental readiness. The type of tongs you use and the size of the pom pom balls is important. Using tongs that are too difficult to squeeze or pom poms which are too tiny can lead to frustration, but some level of challenge is good! 

E complained and was a little frustrated when he had difficulty ensuring the pom pom he was holding remained in the spout long enough in order for him to shift the tongs to one side and shove it in. 

I let him problem solve on his own, and he was very satisfied when he was able to complete the task. Emotional regulation is after all an essential part of building executive functioning skills! 

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