Tyler has become quite interested in the differences between "cold" and "warm" for probably over a month. I let him explore with items from the freezer and ice to feel things that are cold, as well as run warm water for him to play in and talk about how certain foods are warm or cold. We shared our first hot (warm) cocoa last month, which was the first warm drink he's ever enjoyed. For some reason it didn't strike me to create an activity using this interest until now. I recently gave Tyler a jar for putting gems into (an old activity he wanted to do again), and the jar was still quite warm after running it under hot water to scrub the label. He immediately noticed and appreciated the warmth. A few days later, he grabbed the jar from the basket and asked me to make it warm for him again. He did this twice during the day. Then, a few days later, while scrubbing labels from glass seasoning shakers to make sound bottles, it finally occurred to me that he could sort items by temperature...and that the jars would be a perfect way to do it!
I put several of the jars into a bowl of water and placed them in the freezer for about half an hour. Just before we were ready to start the work, I soaked the other jars in a bowl of hot water. I also created labels that said "warm" and "cold" on them (in different colors to help him remember the words). I demonstrated the sorting, then allowed him to get to work, which he was quite eager to do!
Something about this work made him so happy! He had no problems distinguishing between the temperatures and enjoyed sorting, saying "warm" and "cold" as he went. Though I demonstrated putting the jars above the labels, he really enjoyed covering them with the bottles. Not having a real "place" to put things when sorting (basket, tray, paper bag) bothers him a bit, so this gave him that control. I was glad to see him problem solve so he could do the work he so clearly wanted to complete.
He then returned the jars to the tray and started again. He did the work at least six times before the jars had returned to room temperature and were difficult to distinguish between. He asked for more, but we didn't have the time to re-cool and re-heat the jars before our bed time routine, so I promised he could do the work again the next day.
So of course we did! It looks like my sound jar idea is going to have to wait. I don't think this work will be going away anytime soon!
While writing this post, I remembered some other warm and cold activities that we tried almost a year ago. I flubbed on the presentation of the hot and cold sort and apparently forgot all about it after that!