Welcome to a brand new series of weekly blog posts! I’m really excited to be launching this weekly series and hopefully it’ll provide some inspiration at home too.
After having a mass re-organisation of our play space, I realised that a lot of toys and books we had were being left neglected. This, combined with Zoey getting older, meant that is was the perfect opportunity to introduce toy rotation and weekly themes. The coffee table that we originally used to stack an untidy heap of toys became the perfect ‘discovery table.’
I want to stress right from the start that this is not about forced play. This is all about following interests and allowing Zoey to explore the toys and books provided at her own pace. The introduction of the discovery table essentially just means that the items are much more accessible to her.
A baby clinic was our first choice for two reasons: Zoey is majorly into her ‘babies’ and i’m also due to have baby number 3 in April. The table is helping us all prepare for the big changes that a new baby will bring.
What’s on the table?
I used the resources that we have in our home. For this series to work, it’s all about finding items we already have or creating them ourselves. I certainly wouldn’t recommend buying items to fit themes. Instead, see what works around your little ones interests.
I’ve been lusting after one of these noticeboards for ages – they’re all over Instagram! When I saw it for just $12 in Kmart, I knew I had to get one. It’s such a great resource for our discovery table as it can be changed to reflect the weekly theme.
The noticeboard is an opportunity for Zoey to have exposure to the written word in different formats. She is starting to identify some of the letters and numbers that are on the board.
It goes without saying that we needed dolls on the table for this to work (if you don’t have dolls, a veterinary clinic would work well too). Zoey calls them her babies and nurtures them like a proper little mamma! The smaller ‘Gotz’ doll featured in the main photo is anatomically correct and can even be placed in the bath. Incidentally, bathing ‘baby’ first is often the way we have to coax Zoey into the bath these days!
Having a doll helps children to work on the personal, social and emotional side of learning. She is essentially taking on the role of caring for her baby which in turn will help develop her empathy and understanding.
Most dolls come with clothing that can easily be taken on or off. I provided some spare dolly clothes (thanks granny and granddad!) so that Zoey could practice dressing and undressing. Again this is mimicking real life – when the new baby comes along, Zoey will be able to dress her baby whilst i’m dressing the newborn!
This simple role play is a precursor to developing independence in the future. It helps physical development by working on fine motor skills which will eventually lead to essentials such as holding a pencil.
We’re all for supporting whatever is best for mum and baby here, so whilst Zoey was breastfed, we have a few bottle options too. Zoey tends to alternate between feeding her babies the bottle and pretending to breastfeed them!
Mimicking real life in this role play style helps Zoey to understand the world around her. It’s also demonstrating a caring and nurturing side which will eventually lead to building friendships in the future. Hopefully, it’ll also help her adjust to her new brother when he comes along – i’ll report back on that one!
It turns out we have quite a lot of books relating to the theme of babies! Some have been gifted and other have been bought in preparation for the new baby. We’ve really enjoyed reading these this week – a surprising favourite for Zoey was ‘Peepo!’ by Janet and Alan Ahlberg. Through my eyes it seems pretty dated, but Zoey loved the circular cut-out pages. As there were six books on the table, i’ll run through them all in a separate baby themed book post!
Having access to books from an early age will hopefully give Zoey a lifelong love of reading. The baby books on our discovery table this week should also help her to better understand what little babies are like.
Not photographed specifically, but part of the play was a pretend stethoscope and, at one point, a kitchen scales (I didn’t leave this on the table because it contained an accessible button battery). I simply judged a time when she was engaged with the table and showed her how to use the scales. When I need to visit a real baby clinic with the newborn, I intend for Zoey to come along with one of her babies so that she can feel part of the process.
Once the baby has actually arrived, I will write a post on how we are all adjusting and coping with life as a party of 5!
This is turning into a really exciting year for Teach Investigate Play. In personal terms, we are expecting baby number 3 and on a business level, there is an e-book and online course in the pipeline. Please subscribe to my email list or follow along on Instagram and Facebook for regular updates.