Sensory/Fine Motor Skills Play with Tapioca Pearls

I had some cooked sago (tapioca pearls) left over from a rather dismal attempt at making mango sago dessert—which I only tried in the first place because I didn’t know what to do with the can of condensed milk that the maid mistakenly opened instead of evaporated milk. Anyway, I wasn’t in the mood to do any further recipe experiments with the leftover sago so it seemed much more fun to let the twins play with the slippery little beads.

I just dumped the sago in the table where they usually do their water play, handed them a couple of empty bottles with small openings, and encouraged them to fish pearls out of the water and put them inside the bottles. That simple!

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Of course, it was rather too simple that soon enough they were ready to move on to other things. So after a while, in addition to the sago and bottles, the water table had also contained cups, sponges, AND their clothes to boot, which they wanted to wash.

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I stored the sago pearls in the fridge and brought them out to be played with again a couple of days after. To make things more challenging, this time I gave them spoons to use in scooping out pearls. This got them engaged a little longer, and also provided the opportunity for a bit of counting and problem solving: How many pearls have you got there? Only one? Can you scoop out two? Oh that’s a lot, can you shoot all that in the bottle? How many can go inside?

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They could only successfully scoop the pearls when they were getting them from the container, but once all the pearls were already submerged in the water, they couldn’t fish them out anymore using the spoon and went back to using their hands again. Would be interesting to see their skills develop; I wonder when they’d be adept enough to spoon things from under the water!

As always, the messy play becomes an easy transition to bath time, which we often do outdoors these days because of the crazy heat. Out come the hose, the tub, the batya. We toss a few cups in the water, the one with holes in the bottom, and let them scoop and pour and spill to their heart’s content. Afterwards, the twins like pointing out the wrinkled pads of their fingers: “Kulubot!” they’d say (or, you know, their mangled pronunciation of the word).

I sometimes dread the time when you won’t be entertained so easily anymore, my girls. But for now, I’m enjoying the simplicity of your fun, of the sheer delight in your faces as you examine your wrinkled fingers and proclaim “Kulubot!”

Life with Twins: Yes, Every Day is an Instant Playdate

Play, especially when self-directed, is not only natural — it is vital for our children’s emotional health. Through play babies naturally develop physical and cognitive skills, stretch their imaginations, flex creative muscles, build resiliency and a strong sense of self.

The quote above is from the article “Baby, You Are Born To Play” by Janet Lansbury, a proponent of RIE parenting. I can’t say I’m a full on RIE parent (actually I feel iffy attaching any label to my parenting, such as it is; I sort of do a little of this and a little of that style I guess), but a lot of the stuff I’ve read about RIE make sense to me. I’m not equipped enough to adequately describe what RIE parenting is all about (for that, you can check out this link), but letting kids enjoy uninterrupted, self-directed play is one of its principles.

I used to feel guilty for not spending a lot of time doing “activities” with my twins, but now I can just say, hey, RIE parenting! Ok, just kidding. There is RIE parenting and there is distracted parenting, which goodness knows is also one of the things I can be guilty of.

In any case, because they are now full-fledged toddlers, the twins have become increasingly adept at entertaining each other. As long as they know that I’m around, I can more or less just stay in one spot and let them do their own thing. Once in a while they’ll come up to me and sort of check in, tell me what they’re doing or ask for my help in something, then off they go again. They do pretend play, horse play, throw-everything-within-reach play, run-around-giggling play–whatever strikes their fancy. And should one twin happen to be asleep, the awake one is also capable of playing by herself. We’re still a long way to the point where I can actually work on my computer for long stretches while they play, but we’re also a long way off from when they needed to be entertained or held all the time.

Twins are definitely high-maintenance, especially in the infant days, but at this stage, the fact that they have each other is just all sorts of awesome. Here’s a short video that shows some of those awesome moments. Hope it brings a smile to your face 🙂

Tipid Toy Tuesday: Empty Distilled Water Containers

Today’s tipid toy is so ridiculously easy and simple that I feel a little ridiculous even blogging about it, but here goes.

A cousin started playing this with the twins a couple of weeks ago, and we’re still getting some play time out of it until now. There are only two materials: an empty 6-liter distilled water container, and a bunch of scrap paper – in this case, some Toys R Us gift wrapper since we just unwrapped a gift for the twins the night before (thanks, Ninang Abby!).

We use up a lot of distilled water for the twins’ milk, and we sometimes let the twins play with the empty containers. They like walking around the living room banging it noisily to the floor, and sometimes we let them put pebbles inside.

Also, the labels can work as crowns.

hello cuties!

hello cuties!

With the Toys R Us gift wrapper just lying around, however, my cousin started tearing the wrapper and forming little balls that the twins can put inside the water containers for some fine motor activity.

shoot that ball baby!

shoot that ball baby!

Some of the wadded up pieces of paper are bigger than the others and so would require a little bit more effort to squish in. There was quite a bit of wrapping paper available, so it took a lot of time to tear it all up. Of course, when all the paper balls are inside, it’s time to take them out and begin again!

Shaking the bottle sometimes works, as the smaller paper balls fall out.

Ulap shaking things up

Ulap shaking things up

But taking them out by hand is even better fine motor exercise!

check out that look of concentration.

check out that look of concentration.

When playing with the paper balls started to get a bit old, they discovered that they can sit on the bottles and basically squish them. Makes an awful racket, but they like it!

they like sitting on things lately - on balls, biscuit containers, what-have-you

they like sitting on things lately – on balls, biscuit containers, what-have-you

After a few times of doing that, it became quite hard to return the bottle to its original shape, so I guess it will be off to the recycle bin soon, but basically it’s already been reused. I’ve also toyed with the idea of reusing them by trying my hand at planting some herbs, but that’s a totally different project and well, it hasn’t happened yet 🙂 See you next Tipid Toy Tuesday!

Tipid Toys: Reused Plastic Materials

I’m supposed to be starting a Tipid Toy Tuesday post series, then I realized that it’s already Wednesday! Let’s just say Tipid Toy, then 🙂

So I’ve posted about our Tipid Toys before, which are everyday/household objects that we use as toys for the twins. Since I usually go for the lazy fuss-free approach, these “toys” require minimum set-up/preparation and hardly cost a thing, but have been proven to be useful in entertaining the twins and even teaching them a thing or two.

Our Tipid Toy for today is reused plastic materials (I can’t really even say recycled, much less upcycled because I didn’t really do anything to them). See, because of my mother-in-law, we’re something of a pack rat household. Everything that can conceivably be reused gets carefully cleaned and hidden away. Our kitchen closets tend to get clogged, but like today, it sometimes pays off. Setting up playtime for the twins was a simple matter of pulling out measuring scoops, yogurt containers, and an empty ice cream container from the kitchen shelves.

Then it’s pretend cooking/eating time!

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These days they’re all about slurping sabaw. Lagot kami pag walang sabaw ang ulam.

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First Play Dough

first play doughMy attempt at DIY play dough: looked iffy at first, but with a bit of troubleshooting, it was a success. I loved it when the consistency finally came out right. On the other hand, my attempt at getting the twins to play with it: not so successful. One twin found it a little icky while the other one was amused at squeezing it for a while then she was more interested in the little animals and props that I included in the play. However, the play dough can be refrigerated and reused. All in all, I’m calling it a win.

DIY play dough recipe from The Imagination Tree. I love this site!