Friday, August 2, 2013

Posting and Slotting

In the latest update on Rachel, I wrote about "posting" or "slotting" activities. I thought I'd share a couple of these today. 

When Rachel was about six months old, she was just starting to post stuff. Before that, she would rather take stuff out of containers and drawers, rather than put stuff in. When I noticed she was ready, I encouraged her to pass me stuff and we would make a game out of it. This way, she practiced aiming where the item should end up and she also practiced letting go of the item. So we would play simple games, eg. I would pass her a small ball and she would pass it back to me, and I would pass it on again. We started with rolling a ball back and forth, and then progressed to picking up a smaller ball or object and placing the object in the other's hand or just passing it along for the other to grab. The point was to get her to let go of the object, and reassure her that the object would return.

From there, we graduated to placing the item into a container. The container and the item don't have to be the same shape - this is a very basic activity for very young children. Just place or drop the item into the container. That's it. I know it sounds almost too simple, but if you have a six month old who is still grasping the concept of letting go, you will know where I'm coming from. At this stage, they are reluctant to relinquish possession of the item. Don't force your child, just show him/her how it's done, and when he/she understands that it's ok to "lose" the item, it will happen.

Ok, with that, move on to using different items and different "slots". For items, progress from larger to smaller items, so that she progresses from using the whole hand to using the pincer grasp. For containers, progress from containers with wide openings to containers with smaller openings, and ultimately to containers with openings that need precision posting. Try to get your child to post with his/her right hand and also with his/her left hand.

Bear in mind that we are not doing matching at this point. These activities are simply for posting. When your child is ready, you can show her how to do matching activities, eg. put the star-shaped item into the star-shaped slot.

You might be thinking that you don't have to do this - the children eventually learn anyway. That's absolutely true. I'm not telling you that you need to do this. I'm merely offering you some ideas if you need inspiration for games to play with your baby at this stage. Posting/slotting is an experience that babies around this age enjoy, so you can consider offering them these sort of activities.

Ok, here you can see Rachel posting pom-poms into a Munchkin snack container. See how delighted she was!

Pom-poms are good to use because you can lay a pom-pom on top of the hole and it will just sit there until your child pushes the pom-pom such that it squeezes through. Your child is naturally encouraged to use his/her fingers. The other advantage of pom-poms is that Rachel doesn't seem inclined to eat them so I don't have to watch her like a hawk when she does this activity. You can also use cotton balls if you want something similar. Having said that, I've used a variety of other items of all sorts of shapes and sizes, it really doesn't matter, actually.

I bought these pom-poms from Spotlight. I think it was S$3 a packet with a good mix of colours and sizes. I bought them in primary colours so that I will be able to re-use them again when Rachel progresses to colours. Rachel doesn't put these in her mouth but if your child is working with small items, please supervise them!

The container is a Munchkin snack container. Please don't bother to buy a container for this. I have used a food container with a small hole cut out on the lid. I have used a toilet paper cardboard roll. I have used our existing toys with holes (see further below). There are countless options. I have even used my finger and thumb to form a circle.

The only reason I used the Munchkin snack container here was so that I had some place to store the pom-poms after she was done. This way, I don't have to clean anything up! When I offer the activity to Rachel, I leave the pom-poms out and the container next to them, on the shelf or on the floor. If she is in the mood for the activity, she will go to the set up and do the activity. After she is done, she will go off.

I may not be with her when she does this activity; I may be with Ryan or she may be with Richard. In any case, as you can see, she is pretty focused and doesn't need me. She also comes up with her own versions of this activity. The shelf where I leave this out has some other toys and stuff, so sometimes I walk up to the area to find the pom-poms all posted into a different vessel!

As mentioned above, Rachel gets a good fine motor workout from picking up and handling the items.

Another version of posting/slotting. This toy comes with a hammer to hammer the pegs down. Here I removed all the pegs and Rachel is slotting the pegs back into the holes. She's pretty good at it already. I bought this toy for Ryan many years ago from a bookstore sale. I think you can get a similar one from IKEA.

This is slightly different because she is not aiming with her fingers, but more with her hand, while holding the peg in the right position firmly with her fingers. Check out her intense concentration!

Combined the pom-poms with the toy for some variety!

We are still doing lots of posting activities now. We're working on more precision posting now - like posting poker chips through a small slot (like a vending machine). Will share when I get some photos of that!


Unknown said...

Hello there! I chanced upon your blog, and what a coincidence, you were mentioning about the poker slotting machine, and the activity I did with my 17 month old reminded me of that! Thought I would share it with you :)

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