Thursday, 6 August 2015

How long is a piece of string?

Activity: How long is a piece of string? 

Development: movement, cognitive and learning
Materials needed: something long and easily held by your child - fabric, scarves, belts etc. 
Age: 9 months + 
This is a very quick and easy activity to prepare. Simply grab something long from around the house that your baby can easily grab and pull and place one end in reach of your baby...and you're done! Hopefully your baby will grab hold of the end and start pulling it until they reach the other end. They may need this demonstrated at first if they are not entirely sure what to do (as my girl did when presented with the odd creation pictured).

I first noticed that she enjoyed this activity after she got hold of a dressing gown belt (from the mountain of washing splayed over the floor) and began to pull from one end until she had got to the other end. I decided to make something longer for her and so, as you can see in the picture, I collected an odd assortment of things from around the house - some fabric, a lightweight scarf and a bandanna - and tied them together. This random creation lives in her toy box and now that she's discovered its location, she loves pulling it out of there too.

All this pulling and grabbing is excellent for her brain as there is so much movement and learning going on. First off, the actual process of pulling requires balance as my little girl leans forward, grasps part of the 'rope' and then pulls it backwards while also leaning backwards. Her ability to actually grasp the 'rope' develops hand-eye coordination and strengthens her hand muscles. Along with all of this, she is learning about colour, texture, weight and length with each different type of 'rope' used. As I've said in previous posts, the more an activity is repeated, the stronger the brain connections become.

Interestingly I've noticed that as she pulls, she only uses one hand where an adult, or older child, would probably use both hands one after the other. Sometimes when she has reached the end she then begins to do it again, except this time passing the 'rope' from one hand to the other until the pile ends up on the opposite side of her body. The ability to pull a rope using one hand after another is linked to an incredibly important skill of 'crossing the midline', which babies can begin to do but generally isn't mastered until the age of 3 or 4. In saying that, the act of passing the rope from one hand to another is an early stage of bilateral coordination (as it uses both hands) which is linked to the skill of 'crossing the midline'. Why is bilateral coordination important? It shows that both sides of the brain are communicating effectively and very simply, this helps with every day activities that require coordination.

That is a lot of learning from such a simply activity!

One final comment, it's important to ensure that your baby is safe as they could easily become tangled in your 'rope' creation so while it is a great tool for exploring and learning, I suggest that you don't leave them unattended with it.

As always, if you have a go with this activity I'd love to hear how your baby responds - do they love it or hate it? Have you found an interesting 'rope' item that they have taken a particular liking to? Let me know by commenting below or on my Facebook page. 

Until next time, 

Thanks to these pages for much of the information in this post;jsessionid=6A47F2F628CED6A1EE40B2AE24D70C8D.app227c?docID=161

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