Friday, January 4, 2019

Learning for Littles: Sheep

In an act of devine intervention, our Learning for Littles segment about sheep landed on the same day as the Festival of Sleep Day. We got to double up by discussing how people count sheep to fall asleep, and we did the whole lesson snuggled up. For the activities step by step, please click here.

This lesson's invitation to play was a star projector, the dollies, and a few sheep figures. We have a fully gated off playroom and Jude isn't too mobile yet, so I try to set up the invitation to play and then let him explore while I get the remainder of the activities set up. He spent most of the time staring at the stars and rocking his dollies, but he did eventually realize the sheep were there and started playing with them. I like this type of independent play because it allows him to explore at the pace he sets rather than me shuffling him on to the next activity.

We started this play session a little late which allowed Jay to participate with us. I try to involve as many people as I can with Jude's play sessions in order to avoid monotony. With animals, we always listen to the sound it makes (baa), practice the sound, discuss what the collective is called (herd/flock), name the colors it can be (brown, grey, white, black), and discuss what the babies are called (lambs). We showed Jude the sheep figures we had on hand (a piece of a puzzle and a Little Person sheep). If you don't have an animal prop, a picture in a book or phone would work as well.

We gave Jude time to explore the sheep again. He loves to chew, so we let him chew on the sheep for a bit. By letting him do what he wants, we are hoping to help him understand that we are here to respect his creativity and nurture his curiosity. We continued our conversation about sheep while Jude chewed and listened to more sheep noises courtesy of Google's animal sound board. We also listened to "Baa Baa Black Sheep" a few times. When we play songs for Jude, we try to make sure he is otherwise occupied to avoid him lunging for the phone. We limit screen time, so the sheep provided a distraction while the YouTube video was playing.

Our sensory component was a bucket of cotton balls to represent a sheep's soft fur. It was an uphill battle to try to prevent Jude from ingesting the cotton. If we were to do this activity again, we would put Jude in his highchair to avoid him face diving into the bucket. Jude enjoyed how soft the balls were. We hid his sheep in the bucket and let him find them. He was so proud when he pulled one out. This hide and seek style game was perfect for him, and he would have played it for hours if we would have let him.

Another activity that would have been best done in a high chair was our art project. Like the bucket, there was a lot of diving head first into it. My intention was to use contact paper, but when my search for it in my house came up short, I used some Oracle 651 vinyl that I had laying around. We encouraged Jude to drop cotton balls on the sheep body, but he preferred to tear them off instead. It left an interesting wool like residue on the vinyl, so our sheep still looked sheep like, just a little lumpy.

We finished off our lesson talking about counting sheep and snuggling with the dollies to celebrate the Festival of Sleep. We sang "Baa Baa Black Sheep" again and looked at the stars. Both Jay and I take opportunities to introduce Jude to new concepts even if it's in the midst of another activity if the play naturally goes in that direction, so Jay talked about the moon and stars with Jude to wrap up our play.

We had a great time discussing sheep, and we are excited for you to try these play activities with your little ones. For step by step instructions and pictures on how you can do these activities, please click here.

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