Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tot-school: cheerio beading and rice pouring

Yesterday we started off with a (cheapskate) version of beading: cheerios on a (new) shoelace.

I'd seen many varieties of beading activities on other blogs, which all seemed to go well. Basbusa loves cheerios, and is a huge fan of plugging cell-phone-chargers into cell phones or computer-headphones into computers, so she should love this one, right? Well..... not so much, it turns out. She put a few cheerios onto the lace, and was quite enthusiastic about taking the cheerios off the lace again, when I did a few demo-beadings, but it wasn't long before she was pointing to all her favorite animals on the alphabet chart and feeding them cheerios instead. "Llama! eat! nom-nom-nom-nom... Donkey!! ee-awwww, ee-awww.... eat! Donkey! nom-nom-nom."

Once the animal alphabet chart had had its fill of cheerios, she pointed up to where I had ever-so-sneakily hidden activity number two (note to self: be sneakier in future), and said, "Rice!" Ohhhhkay then. Rice it is.

We've done this one once before. Again, I was envisioning all kinds of pouring and scooping activities the first time I tried it, inspired by blogs everywhere, so I had collected a variety of spoons and scoopy-things and cups. Result? Confusion. Basbusa was keen on investigating the rice, but all the scoopers and stirrers seemed to get in the way of whatever plans she had in her little head. I was sure, at the very least, that she'd enjoy learning how to scoop up a big cupful of rice and pour it back into the bowl again; but no, what she wanted was to use her hands to transfer rice from the big bowl into a smaller one.

So this time, I was smarter: we had a big bowl containing just rice and one little bowl. She loved it! And it was fascinating to watch how many things she learned just with those simple tools. She spent the first ten minutes or so just transfering rice again, finding out what kind of hand and finger-motions worked best for picking it up and carrying it, and which worked best for pouring it out again. (I'd never noticed - the sound of rice falling quickly is actually quite different from the sound of rice falling a few grains at a time.) And what worked best for the little bowl? Holding it in her other hand? Putting it inside the big bowl (my favorite)? Putting it on the floor beside her (her favorite - me, not so much... rice everywhere...)?

Then she noticed that the big bowl actually has pictures of fruit on the bottom, and that by pushing the rice aside she could see them. Much excited excavation followed, with rice flying around her ears. Uh-oh, Basbusa! Just a moment, sit over here for a minute; we'd better do some picking-up. "NO!!! No-no-no! NO! Rice! Rice!!! No!!!!" *

Play resumed after we had had a discussion about having to pick up the rice first, and that we'd be playing with the rice again afterwards. This sequence of events seemed to make a big impression, because she was being much more careful when she got back to her rice-excavation, trying out different motions to see how she could toss the rice around without letting it fall outside of the bowl.

So, a successful session overall, I think? Don't know what went wrong with the cheerios, but I'll give it another try in a few days. And the finding-things-in-rice seems to have been a big hit - maybe I should try one of these I-Spy bottles that are showing up all over the tot-school blogosphere?

* Note - we only speak Arabic with Basbusa, and so far, that's all she speaks (except, mysteriously, for the word "no", which she says in English every single time). So the conversations reported here are translations, not the originals :)

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