Number of Children: 1 to 4
Age Range of Children: 2 to 6 years
Originating Idea Based on Observation:
At the train table, Child Q laid a road sign on its side, picked up two more road signs, and used them to hit the first one in a rough and hard manner. In spite of appeals for him to stop, he continued hitting the toys together until I handed him a xylophone & hammer.
This activity will play into the child’s interest to hit things together while helping him express his feelings and energy in constructive ways.
Learning Anticipated & Developmental Significance:
“2.1 Expression of Feelings
- expressing aggressive feelings and behaviour
- expressing feelings in pretend play”
(Best Start Expert Panel on Early Learning, 2007, p. 30)
Where & When Will the Activity Take Place
- at the Exploring Room
- during Family Time
- play dough:
- flour (2 cups)
- salt (1 cup)
- cream of tartar (1 tbsp)
- hot water (2 cups)
- vegetable oil (1 tbsp)
- food dye
- golf tees (one pack)
- crab mallets (4)
Lay out the play dough, mallets, and golf tees on separate containers. Place in the middle of the table.
The children will hammer the golf tees into the play dough. I will encourage them to use the mallet with varying strengths by asking them how they will do it when they are happy, sad, angry, tired, etc.
Some children will collect the golf tees and lay them out in various ways.
Other children will simply use the play dough on its own. I will invite them to do pretend play with it and express their emotions based on the scenario(s) they come up with.
Observations & Reflections
Instead of setting up this activity in the Exploring Room as a stand-alone activity, I placed the materials in the Home Area instead.
A child hammered the golf tees into the play dough and figured out how many tees could fit in the ball of play dough she had. She also made birthday cakes by representing candles with the golf tees stuck on the play dough. Another child used the top end of the golf tee to make marks on her “pizza” and called it the pepperoni topping. Later, a different child took a handful of golf tees and brought it to the Block Area, “nailing” down his pylon with it. Another child used the mallet to make a circular dent on his play dough and said, “I made a window for my house.”
A little while after, I took two of the mallets and a few golf tees into the Small Toys Table with a new set of play dough. A child took the play dough and one golf tee. She placed it on a different table, flattened the play dough, and used the pointy end of the tee to trace her hand on the play dough.
Meanwhile, we set out a cardboard box to be manipulated with the mallets and golf tees. Two children played parallel each other: With the help of an educator in the beginning, one of the children held the golf tee on the box and hammered on it until it went through. The other child used her strength to poke the golf tee into the box and make a hole before hammering on it. Later, we provided some pipe cleaners that the children poked through the holes made by the golf tees.
Two other children played side by side on the box. After using the mallets and golf tees, one child inserted pipe cleaners all the way through the holes and into the box. The other child made loops by placing both ends of the pipe cleaner into different holes and leaving part of the pipe cleaner hanging on top of the box. Upon seeing this, the first child did the same and made loops with the pipe cleaners, still pushing them all the way through, but now with each end into a different hole.
Lastly, a child poked holes through the box without using the mallets. He would get my attention and say, “Look! Look!” while aiming at the box and slamming a golf tee onto it until it went through.
I feel good about how versatile this activity is and how easy it can be modified to keep the children interested and busy. I like how we added different materials and moved the location of the activity to expand on the children’s experiences. I like that these changes sparked the children’s curiosities and inspired a different type of play.
On the other hand, I struggled with engaging in the play with the children and continuing to scaffold their learning through observational comments and/or questions that provoke their thinking further.
I can take this experience to another level by providing other loose materials to insert through the holes in the box. I can also provide toys of various sizes for the children to explore how these would fit through the loops they made using the pipe cleaners. In addition, I can also provide some foam letters, numbers, or shapes that they can trace on the play dough using the golf tee to practice their fine motor skills.
Another way I can expand on this experience is to add some blocks to the play dough and see what children could build and create by being “construction workers” of a city, building, or other structure.
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