Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Challenging...without always spending.

Like a lot of kids, Ty can be a difficult to keep challenged. He has his interests that he works on a bit obsessively, but outside of that he is one who masters things quickly then needs more stimulation. Even as a baby he needed to be carried from thing to thing to thing at a quick pace all day long, until he started to crawl and could get places on his own. To me this has often meant buying more challenging toys or creating more and more works for him, which can be exhausting and of course budget breaking when done exclusively. I've recently learned that simply adding 2-3 more steps to things he already has and does, making it more complex, can be all he needs at times to keep his brain stimulated.

One example that we did this week was a game with balls and bins. Tyler enjoys throwing balls, throwing balls into containers, running, and carrying big balls around, so connecting these made sense. It's a great game for inside on a rainy day or of course can brought outside as well.

I set-up a two large bins (a laundry basket and a crate) on opposite ends of the room, one full of balls. These were our steps, which I demonstrated a couple times first::

Take one ball at a time out of the bin while yelling "ball! or "ball out!"

Run with the ball to the other bin 

Throw the "ball in!".
Give me a high-five (we added this the next time we played)

Run back for another ball

When that bin was full, Ty created his own step of climbing into the crate and throwing the balls out from there. I went with it. I then ran to place each ball in the opposite bin.

We then started over again.

He enjoyed this so much that even after about twenty minutes, when he was clearly tired, he wanted to keep it going. It's now a game that he initiates by himself, setting up the bins and balls and remembering the motions and words.

Another game we created (which I don't have photos for unfortunately) was setting up a bin of balls, a step stool and a large container (I used a crate). Tyler would:
  1. Grab a ball from the bin
  2. Step up onto the stool
  3. Throw the ball in the container
  4. Jump off the step stool
  5. Repeat until balls were all in the container (then refill first bin and start over)
I'm now starting to look at some of his less active toys and other works to add other natural steps as well. For example, with his glass gem and bottle activity, where he simply drops gems into a small or large bottle, I will have him use three different sized jars that he lines up from big to small, then, as he enjoys counting activities, have him put a certain number of gems in each bottle down the line.

If you have limited materials/toys or have a little one who needs a good challenge, this is an easy way to keep you sane and your wallet a bit more full! Adding more steps is also great for learning to follow directions and of course strengthening memory.

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