Since my lemon, ice and water sensory activity with Gwen (15 months) turned out really well, I decided to continue the lucky lemon streak.
Inspired by @7daysofplay, I created an indoor lemon fruit orchard that's now permanently "planted" in Gwen's play area. Here she can pick all the water-filled lemon balloons she wants, on repeat!
Lemon Picking Fine Motor Toddler Activity!
- Lemon Tree: Make a tree with cardboard and coloured construction paper. Stick it up on the wall with strong tape (so it doesn't get yanked off easily)
- Squishy Lemons: Thanks to @7daysofplay's idea of filling balloons with sensory materials to make it squishy and squeezy and totally fun to play with, I blew up small balloons and using a straw, filled them with moderate amounts of water. You can use a funnel instead of a straw. The filling part can be tricky so hold the mouth of the balloon tight to stop the air from escaping as you fill it up with water!
- Netted Bag of Lemons: I recycled the netted bags that fruits come in from the supermarket to contain toy lemons. I added the netted bags of lemons as variety to show the different ways lemons come in and also to provide a different sensorial experience.
- Basket: Included this for Gwen to place the picked lemons, so it'll feel just like a u-pick experience!
- Picnic Essentials: Laid out a wooden board, beaker, toy knife, kid-sized kitchen towel, real lemons etc under the lemon tree so we could pretend to have a picnic. The real lemons were great to include so Gwen could relate the toy ones with the real fruits!
(I also had Alexa play "Lemon Tree" in the background lol to complete the experience.)
How the Play Went
The tugging instinct was definitely strong. Gwen toddled to the lemon tree and immediately pulled at the squishy lemons. The tape sticking the tree to the glass came out with a loud tearing noise which frightened little Miss Gwen and she kept a distance from the lemon tree for the rest of the day. I didn't force her to continue exploring the tree and I kept the picnic items for play another day.
So remember to strengthen the adherence of materials you stick to the wall, never underestimate a toddler's strength (and desperation/curiosity!)
The next day, I repeated the setup and Gwen still refused to go near it.
On the third day, I did the same and surprisingly, Gwen ventured over. I was ecstatic. She pulled one squishy lemon out, full of apprehension, as though she was recalling the previous bad experience. When the tape didn't give way this time, she became bent on yanking out all the other lemons!
We had a conversation about the colour, taste and smell of lemons and I pointed out the lemon in a book about fruits. The actual playtime was short, but I like that when I put the squishy lemons back, Gwen returned to them often throughout the day.
Oh and she enjoyed opening and closing her fist around the squishy lemons, which were stretchy and elastic!
Benefits of this Lemon Picking Toddler Activity
- The tugging and yanking (from picking the lemons) as well as squeezing and clenching the lemons are great for fine motor development.
- Exploring the fake, squishy plus real lemons is a sensorial experience.
- Learning about a fruit in depth and where it comes from.
- This setting is perfect for imaginary play (tea parties etc).
- Conversations about the experience helps to enhance vocabulary and build language development.
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.