5 Tips For Encouraging Learning Through Hands On Play

5 Tips For Encouraging Learning Through Hands On Play

This post is sponsored by Mattel, but all opinions are my own.

A friend and I were recently talking about how much different early childhood is today from when we were growing up in terms of learning. When we were kids, so much of our experience was centered on exploration of life around us, using our imaginations, and hands on play. Today, there is so much emphasis on teaching little ones through early schooling, structured activities, and educational electronics. And while I’m grateful that my children have so many opportunities to start these things early, I feel that giving them free time to use their senses and creativity to learn through play is even more important.

For those you don’t know, my son Emmett had a form of epilepsy as a baby that usually causes cognitive issues and developmental delays. He was extremely fortunate in that he overcame the diagnosis and is right on track for his age, but he continued to see a developmental therapist a few times a year for assessments until a few weeks ago. And she repeatedly stressed that for all children – delayed or typical – there is no better way to learn than through hands on play. She told us that of all the senses, touch is one of the most crucial for young development because it allows children to begin to understand the three dimensional world.

Emmett is in preschool two mornings a weeks, but is not yet in any structured activities, which gives him lots of time for hands on play. I can confidently say that I am able to witness the process of him learning when he is down on the ground with toys and objects, using his hands to build and explore. It’s really cool to watch, and also fun to get involved and play alongside him. (It’s a wonderful way to bond too!)

Today I thought I’d share some tips for encouraging learning through hands on play. I’m certainly not a professional when it comes to children’s learning, but I have discovered quite a bit about what works for my little ones, and I’m happy to share!

1. Take a step back. I’m putting this first because it’s important! This is something I actually had to work on myself,  because I have Type A personality tendencies and find myself wanting to control situations with my little ones. When we as parents take a step back, however, and just allow kids to do their thing when it comes to playing, hands on play comes naturally. I love playing with my kids, but I also make sure they have plenty of time for playing on their own. It’s amazing how much they can learn just through free play and using their imaginations without any parent intervention.

2. Make slime or play dough. This is a wonderful learning activity because the child is first working with the parent to create something (the slime or dough), and then venturing off on his/her own to play with it. Both slime and play dough are great hands on, sensory based activities that involve texture, color, and the creative process of building.

3. Play with Building Blocks. Emmett’s current favorite toys, Mattel Mega Bloks, are also some of the best for hands on play. His development therapist actually told us that building blocks like these are some of the best tools for developing minds, fine motor skills, and more. And they’re so fun! Our go-tos are Mega Bloks Building Basics Take-along Builder, Mega Bloks First Builders Block Scooping Wagon, and Mega Bloks Sesame Street Let’s Build Sesame Street.

Emmett calls the Building Basics Take-along Builder his “suitcase,” which is actually pretty accurate. The wheeled carrying case holds a set of building blocks and has a removable building plate inside for mess-free stacking. I love the fun travel themed stickers on the outside too! It’s so fun to watch Emmett pretend he’s going on a trip with his suitcase, and then building (and unbuilding, and rebuilding) towers when he gets to his imaginary destination.

The Mega Bloks First Builders Block Scooping Wagon is another favorite with both my kids. The pull wagon picks up blocks when the kids push it (Emmett’s big sister Essley calls it their Mega Block vacuum), which is wonderful for creative play. Emmett loves to mix and match the 20 First Builders blocks that came with the wagon (and combine with Building Blocks from his other sets) to create buildings, cars, castles, and his own works of art.

Of all the Mega Bloks sets, the Sesame Street Let’s Build Sesame Street wins for Emmett’s favorite. Not only is he able to use his hands to build all kinds of masterpieces with the 70 colorful blocks (some with the cutest character-themed decorations), he is also able to practice his ABCs. In fact, he used these Building Blocks to learn how to spell his name, and to spell his favorite character’s name (Elmo!). Talk about a multi-learning toy! Next up, using his Let’s Build Sesame Street Building Blocks to learn how to spell the names of his other faves: Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Abby.

4. Create a beans and scoops bin. It is truly amazing to watch a small child with a bin, bowl, or bucket full of dried beans and a couple of objects with which they can scoop them. One day I decided to fill a shoebox with some dried pintos and gave Emmett a couple of measuring cups with handles, and the kid was thrilled. This is a surprisingly versatile hands on activity as well; children can learn to count with the beans, they can learn about size (bigger scoop full of beans vs smaller), and they can explore the way the beans feel in their hands which is a great sensory tool.

5. Have a crafts day. While I wish it could be even more frequent, I look so forward to the one or two days a month when we have crafts day in our house. I either put together a specific craft the kids can create (a gingerbread house is one of our favorites for this time of year), or I spread dozens of different arts and crafts supplies in various textures, colors, and material types on the kitchen table and let them go to town. Crafting is an incredible way for small children to utilize their imaginations, practice fine motor skills, and truly learn with their hands.

I hope these ideas are helpful to those of you with little ones looking for ways to encourage hands on play!

Before I go, let me quickly go back to tip #3 for a second. I know I’m gushing, but I can’t recommend Mattel Mega Bloks enough for hands on learning that kids absolutely love. If you’re looking for a holiday gift your little ones will truly enjoy that will also encourage hands on play, head over to the toy and collectibles aisle at your local Walmart and grab a set or two. Then let me know how your kids like them. (Because they will!)

Do you have any tips for encouraging hands on play I might have missed? I’d love to hear them!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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GIVEAWAY! Win a $150 Gift Card to Gaia Conceptions Eco Clothing

GIVEAWAY! Win a $  150 Gift Card to Gaia Conceptions Eco Clothing

It’s officially the holiday season (well, almost anyway), and I’m in the giving mood! So I decided to teaming up once again with our friends and long time Bubby and Bean partners Gaia Conceptions for another kiler giveaway! One lucky Bubby and Bean reader will receive $ 150 to spend in Gaia’s online shop, which features endless styles of truly stunning eco-friendly clothing made by hand in the USA. They have hundreds of styles to choose from, each one of which is custom created to your size, color choice, and fabric selection. As I’ve mentioned before, Essley and I are both proud owners of several their gorgeous designs. And we’re excited for one of you to get some Gaia threads of your very own!


Use the form below, and/or, because the main methods of entering this giveaway (worth the most points) involve Instagram, you can also enter directly on IG, right here. There are several options for extra entries as well.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway will run through this Friday (November 16, 2018), and is open to Bubby and Bean readers worldwide. All entries from the Rafflecopter form above and Instagram will be combined. A winner will be randomly chosen and announced here shortly after the end of the giveaway.

Thank you to Andrea and friends over at Gaia Conceptions for giving our readers the chance to win another gift card to their amazing shop. Good luck!

ALSO FIND US HERE:  INSTAGRAM // FACEBOOK // TWITTER // PINTEREST


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Our 2018 Family Holiday Cards

Those of you who have been following me for a while know that I hold a special place in my heart for greeting cards – especially holiday cards. Exchanging cards is such an endearing holiday tradition for me, and in my mind, genuinely represents the spirit of the season. And while I don’t share a lot of truly personal pieces of my family’s life here on the blog or in social media, our annual holiday card is one thing I am happy to share. I get so excited to send them to friends and family, but also feel like I’m sending them to each of you when I write this post each year. (This year is year four!)

Years ago, I only sent cards that I designed myself for the Bubby and Bean Art shop, but when Essley was a toddler, decided that I wanted to find a place where I could order them that (1) was separate from my job and (2) could include a photo of her on the card. I was also at the end of my pregnancy with Emmett, was in the midst of my busiest season for work, and my husband was getting ready to leave the country for his job. So the the task of stuffing, sealing, addressing, stamping, and sending holiday cards sounded really freaking overwhelming. I did all sorts of research into various card companies that offered customization, and when I came across one that had what I considered to be the hippest, more stylish cards around, was blown away to discover that they also offered a service that would do all of the addressing and sending work for me. Four years later, here I am, once again using my forever crush for everything holiday cards, Postable.

If you’re not already convinced of Postable‘s awesomeness just by the gushing I’ve already done, let me go on. (Side note: I was not paid to say any of this or to review them. True story. I just love their stuff, man!) First, they have a massive selection of truly gorgeous (and funny, and whimsical, and pretty much any other style you want) designs to personalize. Second, they use 100% post-consumer recycled or tree-free 100% cotton in all their cards and envelopes. That’s huge. Third, the process is so quick and easy, you won’t even know what just happened. It took less than ten minutes for me to upload the photos, greetings, names, and fonts for the writing on the envelopes (the smart font we always choose looks identical to Robbie’s handwriting which is a great way to trick their recipients into thinking we wrote them all my hand, mwahahaha), choose addresses from my address book (which is super easy to fill; when I first started using Postable I uploaded a spreadsheet and voila), and check out. And finally, they print, stuff, stamp, address, and mail all of your cards directly to everyone in your address book – which, in their words, saves you thousands of hours of agony and a life of carpel tunnel. I can personally attest to this, friends. The quality of their cards is also top notch. No flimsy, poorly printed cards here guys. Postable’s cards are framable. For real.

The style we chose this year is a different than what I’ve opted for in the past. I usually go for designs that are a little bolder and more in your face, but something about the understated, clean, elegant look of the design we ultimately chose really spoke to me. I love it so much. (That doesn’t mean it didn’t take me ordering 6 different samples before making a decision though, as seen in the image above. Indecisive and proud, man.) For the back, we went with the only real family photo we got this year, which was from Halloween, was snapped with a cell phone, and is so us. (Wish we could just dress in those costumes everyday, tbh.)

Using Postable for our holiday cards takes a huge weight off my shoulders each holiday season. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: they seem to be really nice people who make dope cards and have a very innovative service. And while I do partner with them for these projects, they don’t pay me to review their cards. I just genuinely love them and want to share. Oh, and here’s something else great about them: they’re giving you a whopping 20% off your entire order with code BEAN18. Spreading holiday joy, they are! Told you they’re the best.

Who else finds immense pleasure in the act of sending and receiving holiday cards? (Come on. I know I’m not the only one.) Any other mega Postable fans?

This post is in collaboration with Postable.

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Happy Veterans Day!

A big salute to all of our veteran friends, both 2-legged and 4-legged from breeders.net and doggies.com. Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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RSVP for #CevaHoliday Twitter Party!

Ceva Animal Health has sponsored this post and the upcoming party, but all opinions are my own. We all know that the holidays, for all its fun, can also be stressful for us and our pets, whether…



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DogTipper

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Protecting Your Dog Against Heartworms #Vectra3DDog

Ceva Animal Health, makers of Vectra® 3D for Dogs, has sponsored this post, but all opinions and statements are my own. You’ve probably seen the coverage on the national news the past few weeks of…



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DogTipper

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Anka makes a discovery

I see her sniffing along the trail:

anka sees something

It makes the leaves rustle, and she leaps back.

it leaps

I come to look, and it’s a very late season garter snake probably out looking for a hibernaculum.

garter snake

Natural History

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Exploring the ruins of Gretchen’s Lock

This site is supposed to be haunted.  It’s a good thing I brought my hell hound.

top of lock anka

top of lock sniff

 

Natural History

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It is very nice information…My dog also suffers fr…

It is very nice information…My dog also suffers from SA and can go through crates (or walls) in about an hour. Finally after coming home to her out but with a collapsed crate hooked into her skin and being dragged around the apartment I gave in and bought this.i’ll wait for your next article.
BAD RAP Blog

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Crossing the road

red fox at night

Our motor vehicles speed away on ribbons of asphalt. We run along them as they cut along the cities and suburbs but also as they wind their way through the pastures and cornfields and the stands of forest that somewhat resemble wilderness.

Our roads intersect their trails. The wild beasts scurry across them when they cannot hear the whirring of tires and the humming of the internal combustion engines. They race across hoping almost as an act of instinctual faith that that vehicles won’t slam into them and take the great toll of impersonal and unintentional predation that we call roadkill.

And so one night this week, I found myself winding along desolate roads in Western Pennsylvania. The darkness of night enveloped all around me. Only the lights on my vehicle pierced this veil.

And as a rounded a bend in the road, my headlights scanned down upon what I instantly recognized as a deer. But as I motored in closer, the lights revealed a massive buck with a great crown of white rapiers. The rut is nigh, and this is the time of thick necks and grunting and long solitary perambulations through the darkness. Soon, the sensual scents of the does will cast into the wind, and the ancient rites of courtship and copulation will commence.

And the bucks that once wandered around as comrades in the oak woods with velvet headdresses as the deerflies tore at their ears in the July swselter are now turning into the worst rivals.

But by mid-December, the does will stop their sweet waftings, and the testosterone levels will drop in the bodies of the bucks. By January, the antlers will fall, and the rivals will bunch up as comrades again, ready for the long freezing time where the mast of autumn better be bountiful enough to see the deer until first green grass of March.

I shouted with elation from my driver’s seat:

“Look at that buck!”

The buck looked alarmed at my stopping then moseyed into the woods along the road. I motored on.

Jenna asked,  “Would you have shot that one?”

And all I could say is, “Yes.”

That same night, on another desolate road in Western Pennsylvania, I made a turn onto a crooked course that skirted along the edge of a uncut cornfield.

As I approached the edge of the cornfield, a red fox charged out of a hidden covert, and then darted into the tall corn.

He was a beautiful specimen, probably looking at a nice night of mousing where no one could lay eyes upon him, especially not someone with a nice little predator rifle.

We are not long before the days of the foothold traps set in for the red fox and all the other little fur-bearers of the forest and field. Those traps won’t fool many of the old veterans, the ones that have run that gauntlet for a winter or two or five or six,  but the young rangers of the year will surely fall.

But in the next spring, the vixens will whelp in their dens, and the fields will fill with young rangers again.

We watched the fox slink into the corn.

“That was the first red fox I ever saw!” Jenna shouted at me. I guess Florida is pretty depauperate of wild canids, for she told me that there are no red foxes in the lower parts of the peninsula. They are so common here outside of the subtropics. They appear as eternal as the hills and the rocks and the streams, but the truth is they were absent in this part of the continent until the Europeans came. Then, they wandered down out Canada and New England into the newly cleared lands. The legend goes that they were stocked here from England or Germany, a legend that goes in nicely with the repeopling of this land with people mostly of that ancestry after having driven off and subjugated the descendants of that first colonization from Siberia.

As we motored along back into Ohio, the deer stood along the road, almost daring themselves to jump in front of our vehicle. One stupid little button buck staggered out in front of us. He stared up at the headlights in the cliched expression and then turned his head to stagger around to the opposite side of the road.

And we motored on in the darkness. My mind was on the road, but I thought of the paradox of the blacktop. The road and the motor car have given us what appears to be unlimited freedom.  We can cross the continent in a matter of days, if we just get in our vehicle and go on the road.

But in that freedom, we are limited. We must follow that road, as does everyone else who travels.

But the deer and the foxes and all the wild beasts of the fields roam their trails. These paths might be ancient, but they are made through the inertia of instinct, always seeking the path of least resistance to get from the bedding areas to the grazing or hunting grounds.

The beast that thrive here now thrive mostly because of us. We have killed off the wolves and the cougars, and then modern agriculture has made Appalachian hill farming mostly unprofitable.  Farm families are rarer and rarer upon the land, and the thickets and coverts grow to hide the wild creatures more completely.

And so we’ve let these parallel worlds grow up in our wastegrounds.  Most of us never pay much attention to these worlds, but when we go upon our ribbons of blacktop at night, our paths meet. Sometimes, we slam into deer and crush foxes and raccoons. But more often, we just meet. Our headlights illuminate the denizens of that other world.

Perhaps we allow ourselves the chance to marvel at them, and maybe we can consider their plight as beings more deeply tied to the ecosystem. We can maybe consider them a bit, and then realize that we are also tied to it. We’ve built walls around us to insulate ourselves from the realities of the cold, heat, parasites, and hunger.

But these walls are but edifices of delusion. Nature’s laws still abide with us, and that our dominance is only temporary and maybe only illusory.

And when we consider their plight, their existence, we must ultimately fully consider our own.

At least, that is what I’d hope we’d do as the night draws in darker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural History

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