Gwen (15 months) recognises a chick and duckling (anything small, furry, yellow and had two feet is the one and the same animal to her 😂) and she calls it “yaya”, which means “duckling” in Chinese.
When we visited my childhood bff’s house, her mum was really excited to meet Gwen. She almost turned her house upside down to find cuddly soft toys and games to entertain my young toddler 😂 That was incredibly sweet and endearing. One of the treasures she found in her storage was this little chick toy which could be wound up to walk! The instant Gwen saw it, she cried out, “yaya!” and only had eyes for this little chick. When she woke up from her nap, she searched for “yaya”. Seeing how inseparable she was from this little chick toy, my friend’s mum generously gifted it to Gwen.
At home, her love for “yaya” never wavered 😂 I decided to create a sensory play activity that includes “yaya”, because there’s probably no better way to engage a child than use an object she’s strongly fixated to.
Chick and Earthworm Toddler Sensory Play!
A pretend feeding game can’t go wrong with young toddlers! So I created a sensory bin with earthworms half buried in edible sand.
- Edible sand (Read my other post for my favourite ingredient to use. It’s not just taste-safe, it’s nutritious!)
- Earthworm dough (I used whole wheat flour and added tiny amounts of water till I could form a dough, so I don’t have precise measurements to share. You could use plain white flour too! I used whole wheat flour for a browner color and a rougher, coarser texture. Before putting the earthworms into the edible sand, I rolled them in cocoa powder to give them the dark brown finish.)
- A little chick toy, figurine or even picture
- (Good to have) A book that depicts earthworms to reinforce learning. I used The Fisher-Price Little People School Bus book which shows a boy holding an earthworm from a bucket of sand and earthworms.
I kneaded the excess dough into a ball and placed on a wooden board for Gwen to explore. When she took interest in it, I passed her tools like her toy rolling pin and her toy knife to manipulate the dough.
How the Play Went
Gwen loved digging through the sand to extract the earthworms! When I told her “yaya” eats earthworms, she immediately pretend-fed her little chick.
I buried the earthworms repeatedly and got her to find them for me.
The coolest part was that Gwen actually demonstrated that she knew how to bury the earthworms (and then pull them out and say “there!”) Hiding things in things is a developmental milestone, and it takes much effort (many scoops of sand) to fully cover the earthworm in sand, so I was impressed. I love how sensory play helps Gwen pick up new skills.
I also enjoyed watching her manipulate the dough. Previously she would recoil in disgust when she touches the pliable, soft dough. This time, she surprised me with her willingness to not only touch, but play with the dough! 😍 I see that as another fine example of how sensory play pays off. She pressed the dough to flatten it, hit it and tore bits of dough off the main chunk. When I showed her how to use the toy rolling pin and knife, she gave it a go too!
Benefits of this Sensory Play
- Pretend feeding of animals builds imagination and empathy in young children!
- Playing hide and seek using the earthworms in edible sand builds memory and concentration
- Manipulation of dough improves fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, which are critical for advanced skills like writing
- Sensory play forges new brain connections as children learn and explore using their senses of touch and sight
To follow Gwen's play adventures, check out @miraculove_sg (Instagram) or A Toddler Activity A Day Facebook Group.
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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.