Wednesday, July 9, 2014

OK to play kitchen draw/cupboard for crawlers and toddlers

Does your baby/toddler love to empty the draws and cupboards in your kitchen? Do you worry about if they are going to hurt themselves or break things? I went through the exact thing when my baby began to crawl and pull out objects from our kitchen draws. I remember having to tell her "no touch" and her response would be given in tears. My solution was to transform a draw or lower shelf in a cupboard just for my curious daughter. It was so nice to say "have a play" rather than "please no touch"
 My daughter loved keeping busy by emptying the contents and putting them back in again. It not only made her feel as if she was able to explore, make connections, be entertained whilst I worked in the kitchen, but it actually gave me some time to prepare her meals.

Who can play?
Babies that are crawling and toddlers

Ensure that the objects in your baby/toddlers allocated draw are safe.
Only include items that are not sharp, glass, breakable or heavy.
Supervision is highly recommended at all times.
Be mindful that little fingers can get trapped in doors/draws.

What do you need?
The first thing you need to find is a bottom draw or lower cupboard shelf in your kitchen, that you do not need and is in easy reach of your baby/toddler.
A selection of objects that are safe for your baby to play with. Here are a few examples:
  • Empty cereal boxes. Bee loved empty porridge tubs because she could bang on them with a spoon.
  • Pan lids
  • Wooden and metal spoons
  • Wooden egg cups
  • Tupperware containers of various sizes
  • Lemon/limes
  • cups  
  • empty tin boxes
  • whisks
  • sponges
  • brushes
  • metal bowls
  • mini brush and shovel for older toddlers
  • Small books
To give your child a visual clue, that the draw is OK for them to play in you could place a photograph of your child on the front.

What do I need to do?
Choose a draw in your kitchen/shelf preferably the bottom one) Ensure it is clean and place in a few of your chosen objects. You can always add more objects as your child grows/develops. 
I would also recommend changing the items on a regular basis to keep your baby/toddler interested. 
Once your child has finished playing, encourage them to help tidy up. This helps them learn safety rules and self help skills. At this stage you also need to check and discard any broken items. 
My daughter Bee explored with the objects in lots of different ways. Here are a few ideas;
1. Banging objects with a spoon
2. Putting smaller objects inside larger objects
3. Banging pan kids together
4. Placing spoons in cups
5. Stacking books and boxes

Possible learning outcomes:
  • Communication and language-Speaking and listening. Talking about what they are finding and what they are doing.
  • Physical development- Developing fine and large manipulative skills when picking up objects. Hand-eye coordination.
  • Personal, social and emotional- Making relationships, social skills, feelings and self help
  • Mathematics- Shapes, space, measurement, number counting and recognition
  • Understanding of the world- learning about their community and the world around them. Learning about different tools and their uses.
  • Expressive arts and design- creativity and role play when pretending to cook etc.

What could be done next?
This could be done in other rooms in the house, for instance a lower draw in the bathroom could include rollers, empty shampoo bottles (minus lids) and brushes.

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