Do you remember this? Learning from some favourite games!
At My First Five Years, we spend lots of time talking about babies and children and how they develop and learn. We also talk about how, very often, parents are doing things that support their children’s learning without realising.
Our app will support you to notice the skills that your child is developing and to see the learning in everyday things, as well as giving you ideas of fun things that you and your child can do together to support their development!
In this blog, we have chosen three of the things that our content team remember enjoying as children, or that we have seen our children and those we have worked with enjoying. We will look at how these three things can support children’s development.
Boxes, baskets and bags
Boxes and bags seem to be a favourite for lots of us, whether it is memories of Grandma’s handbag or emptying a carefully organised toy box so that we could sit inside.
A box, basket or bag is full of possibilities. Boxes could be used to make a tower, or emptied and used as a boat, train, car or as a tunnel to crawl through. A bag could be filled with treasures on a walk, used as part of a shopping game, or simply as a means to carry things from one place to another!
When your child plays with a box, basket or bag they bring together their understanding of the world around them to see the possibilities presented by the object. No one is telling them what to play and they can explore the world. They can also start to explore places that they imagine.
Your baby might start by exploring something new just to find out more about it. They will touch everything and put things in their mouth to learn about them. You might find your baby licking a box or banging it on the floor: your baby is answering the question, 'what is this?'
They will then begin to think about what they can do with an object: Can I put it on my head? Can I get inside? What happens if I hit this one with this one?
Next, they will begin to think about what the object is really for, so they will put things into a box or bag and carry or push it from one place to another.
They will use their developing imagination to think about the possibilities for their box or bag. They will try out ideas and start to develop stories; they might give you a role to play in their game.
A simple box or bag helps your child to learn about objects as they explore how different boxes, bags and containers feel. They develop their thinking and social and emotional skills as they use the box in different ways to relive their experiences and to imagine possibilities.
Filling and emptying boxes and bags helps your child to learn about capacity and, perhaps, quantity, as they count objects into or out of their container. Carrying or pushing the box or bag helps your child to develop strength and control of their muscles, awareness of the space around them and of their own body. Pushing and pulling can also be quite calming for some children, as they receive sensory input from their push and pull. And, of course, involving you and other children in their play gives them the chance to chat, negotiate and cooperate, so supports language and social and emotional development.
Bouncing, cuddling and airplanes!
Babies laughing as they are bounced up and down on Grandad’s knee, toddlers cuddling in for a story and children wanting to sit on your shoulders: we all seemed to remember some games involving physical play or cuddles with the adults around us!
Remembering time with our families and people that are important to us shows the significance of relationships and emotions in memory. Sometimes we might not remember the specific details of an event but we remember the emotions that were present in that moment. And we are sure you will agree there is something completely joyful about your baby’s laughter as you gently bounce them on your knee!
Once your baby can hold their head and body steady they might enjoy some gentle bouncing games. Keep the movements gentle as your baby will still be gaining the control they need to keep their head steady. Bouncing stimulates your baby’s balance system, so as well as being fun, these games help your baby to develop control of their balance and posture.
Your baby might also enjoy ‘flying'; hold them securely and gently move them through the air. This will help them to develop their balance and posture.
As your child grows and develops control of their posture and movements they might find different ways to bounce and move. Your child might enjoy a change of position and seeing the world from different perspectives. You might find that they seem to climb all the time, as they seek ways to develop their physical skills, and also to see things from different angles to learn more about the world around them.
Climbing helps your child to develop strength and control of their body. It might sound strange, but lots of climbing will help your child to sit still when they are older. Sitting still involves controlling lots of muscles, so moving a lot and using their muscles in different ways helps them to develop the control and posture they need to sit still. You might find that sometimes your child wants to climb on you! This kind of physical play can help them to explore the force that they can use when doing different things, develop their awareness of their body and give them time close to you which they will love!
Your child might ask you to carry them or ask if they can go on your shoulders. This gives them a feeling of closeness, as well as the chance to see things from a different angle.
Whatever your child’s age, cuddling for a story or a chat is a lovely way to relax. Sharing books throughout childhood helps your child to gain a love of reading and to begin to recognise the way that stories are structured. They might even start to remember parts of their favourite stories and tell parts of the story to you!
Making time to sit quietly together helps your child to regulate their emotions. A little bit of quiet time after an exciting game or a busy day might help them, and you, to relax. You might find some of your most interesting conversations happen when you look at a book together or just sit and chat about your day. Your child will learn new words through these conversations as well as how to have a chat.
Pots, pans and cupboards
The other memory that we thought we would include was playing with pots, pans and cupboards.
At My First Five Years, we often talk about kitchen cupboard activities when we're thinking about things you can do with the things that you have at home. But we also chatted about remembering children becoming fascinated with the cupboard too!
You might notice that your child becomes interested in opening and closing a cupboard door or a drawer. It is important to make sure that you have checked any cupboards they can open to make sure the contents are safe, and also stay with them if they are looking in a cupboard, to avoid trapped fingers! If you are happy that they are safe to play, opening and closing a door or drawer might be your baby’s way of exploring what their actions can do, so is part of beginning to understand the world and their impact on the things around them.
If your child is more interested in the contents of the cupboard, they might be exploring filling and emptying or wondering about the new and interesting objects that they have found. They might be interested in taking things out and putting them back in; they might explore weight and shape as they move different objects. If your child is beginning to show an interest in categorising the objects they find, they could help you to tidy a cupboard and agree which things go together.
Pots and pans might fascinate your child as they explore making different sounds with them, or copy the things that they have seen you do, so they might stir an imaginary mixture in a pan. If you have some old pans, your child could have these to make some mixtures outside. They might enjoy collecting leaves or mud and mixing them, or filling a pan with water and seeing if they can carry it from one place to another.
When your child plays with your old pots and pans, they will be able to copy the things that they have seen adults doing if they have watched you making a meal. They will begin to explore mixtures and understand how they can change a mixture by adding something new. Mixing will also help them to develop their physical skills as they hold a spoon, or stick, and stir. Carrying a pan of water not only helps them to explore weight but also helps them to develop control and awareness of their body. So, playing with some pans will support your child’s skills in gross, fine motor, cognitive, sensory and social and emotional streams. We are sure that they will probably chat to you and to themselves about what they are doing so this play will also support their language development!
Remembering and reminiscing
We would love to know if your child enjoys any of these things and if there is anything that you remember enjoying too!
Our app will help you to notice and celebrate the skills that your child is developing and give suggestions about how you can support your child’s development. It also has a scrapbook so that you can keep memories of the skills that they develop and the things that they enjoy.
You might find the scrapbook helps when you are chatting to your child about the things you remember. Reminiscing together will help them to develop their memory and language as they think about how to share the things that they remember.