I am always trying to think outside the box (or toybox, perhaps?) when it comes to play with Simon. I know that the number one way for children to learn about the world around them- its textures and smells, the colors and the physics, the differences and relationships of things- is through play and hands on experience.
I just adore catching Simon in moments when he is quiet and intense, and I find him very carefully arranging objects on his little table, or tearing up pieces of a tissue as small as he can possibly get them, or even giving his baby doll a ride on a toy dinosaur. In these moments he is not just playing; he is also learning about his world, soaking up information about the relationships of things, the way things feel, and the different scenarios he can dream up with his imagination.
Especially on the days that we are stuck inside because of weather or illness, I try to tap into my own imagination and come up with things to present him with that will stimulate play and experimentation.
Here are a few things we have played with lately, that are a little out of the ordinary in terms of what might come to mind right away when thinking of child’s play:
A collection of acorns.*
Slate that Simon found in the park, which we washed and then drew on together with chalk.
My collection of travel mugs. He enjoyed taking the lids off and putting them back on and seeing which lids he could fit onto which cups.
Junk mail! We do this one often. As I sort the mail I give him all the pieces that are to be recycled saying “Simon, this one is for you.” and let him go nuts. Sometimes we color on them, sometimes I show him how to fold a piece into a fan, sometimes he just enjoys piling it all back up again after spreading it out. (And then starting over again, of course.)
Paint in a ziplock bag. We do finger paint without the bag as well, but this was a chance to experiment with squishing it around inside of the baggie to feel the different sensation this presented.
One of Mumma’s scarves. Wearing it, trailing it along, wrapping it onto things, and playing peekaboo with it.
*A note about acorns: When bringing them inside to be played with, take care to pick the greener, more freshly fallen ones, or those still on the tree. The ones that have sat for a while on the ground may have been burrowed into by little creatures. We had a few like this, and though I was certain I had thrown away all the ones with tiny holes, we still had one little wormy emerge a few days later. Gross!