At Tinkergarten, we love to offer kids colorful yarn as an open-ended play materials to spark creative play. One of our favorite ways to explore yarn is by wrapping and unwrapping objects- a universally compelling play activity for kids. As featured in our February activity calendar, in this activity, we add a bit of mystery to kids' yarn play by inviting them to discover hidden wrapped objects.
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Wrap up nature treasures: Gather a few objects from nature (e.g. sticks, pine cones, rocks) and wrap them up with colorful yarn or twine. Wrap up a few small objects from around the house, too!
Treasure hunt: Hide the wrapped objects around your yard or outdoor space and let kids know you have hidden some treasures for them to find.
Guess and unwrap! As kids discover the hidden wrapped treasures, invite them use their senses to guess what might be hidden inside? Does the hidden treasure have a smell? Is it heavy or light? What shape is it?
Once kids have had a chance to explore the objects, invite them to unwrap them to discover what is inside. Give plenty of time for kids to explore the unwrapping process and make a big moment of the final reveal!
Wrap and repeat! If kids enjoyed the hunt, wrap and hide more objects for them to find. Or, invite kids to wrap up objects for you to discover. Take a walk around your outdoor space together and wonder what else you could wrap with yarn. Yarn-bomb a tree trunk or branch! Or, wrap yarn around a few different branches to create a web for pretend spider play!Want more ideas like this? Try our Abuela's Weave DIY or our Play Like Spiders web weaving activity.
We think of self control as a child’s ability to focus on something in such a way that maximizes learning. In order to do that, they first need to direct their attention and focus on a single thing. They also need to discern which information around them is most important and deserving of their attention. Thirdly, they need something called “inhibition.” Think of inhibition as the ability to control impulses, block out distractions and continue attending to the same thing. Focus, discerning and inhibition all require rather fancy brain work and are thought to be part of the “executive functions” or the set of cognitive processes involving the prefrontal cortex that help us manage ourselves and the environment to achieve a goal.
Why does it matter?
Our world is full of distractions, more today than ever. Kids who are in any learning situation need the ability to control their impulses, block out noise and attend to the person, objects, events, or discussions that are central to learning. As classroom teachers, we saw that kids who did this ruled the classroom. As outdoor educators and parents, we know the same holds true outside of school.
But don’t take our word for it; the research is impressive. It turns out that these executive function skills are closely tied to success in the classroom, higher level education and life beyond school. Experts like Adele Diamond of the University of British Columbia have shown that, “If you look at what predicts how well children will do later in school, more and more evidence is showing that executive functions—working memory and inhibition—actually predict success better than IQ tests.” Although these skills are difficult for young children and don’t crystallize until adulthood, the more kids practice them, the better at them kids become.
What are Fine Motor skills?
Fine motor skills refer to how we coordinate small muscle movements in the hands and fingers in conjunction with our eyes. Children begin with whole arm movements at birth and refine their movement, using smaller muscle groups as their bodies develop. With time and practice, children are able to enhance and strengthen the movements in their fingers, becoming able to manipulate small objects and perform a range of important life and learning tasks.
Why does it matter?
Kids need fine motor skills in order to perform every day tasks like using fork and knife, turning a door knob, cutting with scissors and catching and throwing a ball. These same skills are essential for tasks associated with higher level learning like hand writing and typing on a keyboard. If kids enter school without good fine motor skills, they can not only fall behind, but learning can become very frustrating. Moreover, they can develop lasting negative attitudes towards learning and themselves as learners.
Persistence & Grit
What are Persistence & Grit?
A persistent person can continue on a given course of action in spite of challenges or barriers that arise. In other words, persistence is the ability to stick with something and keep trying. It's partner, grit, is the strength of character, and sometimes courage, to allow one to persist. Those who possess grit don't mind rolling up their sleeves, focusing on the task at hand, and sticking with it to completion despite the challenges that come their way.
Why does it matter?
Talent is helpful, but it's hard work, persistence and grit that unlock talent and turn capable people into success stories. As Thomas Edison so famously said, "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Practice with being persistent, including the chance to struggle and learn how to overcome struggle, will help kids later have ability to wade through and make sense of confusing new information, navigate difficult situations, and solve tough problems.
Further, studies like those discussed in Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman's NurtureShock tell us that kids will actually perform better when we praise their hard work instead of just telling them how smart or great they are. As parents, we also tend to offer kids activities which are enjoyable and attainable and, as such, too easy. Bear in mind that if we spare them frustration, we actually deny them the chance to work hard and develop persistence and grit.