We’ve been doing discovery table set-ups for just over a month now and this week’s rainbow theme is the winner so far! Zoey has constantly been at the table, playing with her Grimm’s rainbow people and building different structures with the rainbow. This table was also a hit with Harrison too, although he was slightly disgruntled that I changed the noticeboard whilst he was at school!
Speaking of the noticeboard, I’m really keen to find out how children in different countries learn their rainbow colours. We were always taught the acronym, ‘Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain’ but I realise that might be a distinctly British thing!
So what’s on the table this week?
As always, nothing was bought especially for the theme, this is simply a matter of gathering together existing toys and books. Bringing different items to the forefront each week means that the toys we have retain their interest.
A Basket of Buildables
The Book of the Week
If you want to check out more posts in the discovery table series, click on the links below:
We like to take inspiration from our real life experiences. After a trip to Mollymook on the New South Wales coast over the weekend (and with another trip planned next week!), it was the perfect opportunity to create an ocean themed discovery table.
So what’s on the table this week?
A basket of sea creatures:
Baskets are a great way to present toys to little learners. You can choose a theme, like we’ve done here, or present an assortment of sensory items for little ones to explore. The idea of a ‘discovery basket’ is to let your child investigate and choose the direction of play themselves.
Purple, green and blue hues from our Grimm’s rainbow and a little house were perfect for making waves. What we love about Grimm’s is that the elements let the imagination go wild!
Have you tried a kid friendly magnifying glass? Both Zoey and Harrison love theirs. As well as exploring treasures at home, we also often taken them out and about when we go on nature walks.
Magic Beach by Alison Lester was a particular favourite with Zoey over the weekend. I think the fact we we’re visiting the beach everyday, then reading the story made it extra appealing!
The Usborne Mermaid sticker book is another go-to of ours, especially when visiting cafes. I’d recommend them for a screen-free way to entertain the kids when out and about.
Again, the important thing here is making use of resources that you already have or perhaps even go out and support your local library!
It’s Valentine’s week and I thought about creating a Love themed table, but honestly, I just don’t think it would engage Zoey (2) right now. Instead, I thought i’d focus on one of our most-loved stories instead: The Tiger Who Came to Tea by the legendary Judith Kerr (who also just so happens to be my favourite children’s author)
But this isn’t all about me, this is about engaging in Zoey’s interests! If you’re not sure what this series is for, check back on the previous posts Baby Clinic and The Alphabet which will explain in more detail. Thankfully, Zoey loves The Tiger Who Came to Tea just as much as I do, plus the items on this week’s Discovery Table are right up her street!
What’s on the Table?
Remember, the point of this series is to rotate toys and use what we have around the house. The items shown will hopefully provide you with inspiration to use what you have – please don’t go out and buy toys especially for a theme!
Kmart Tea Set
I both love and loathe Kmart. One of the things I most definitely love is wooden toy sets at accessible prices. Also featured here are a Collecta tiger, IKEA felt cakes, homemade salt dough cookies, a fisher price tea pot and cups from a MacDonald’s Happy Meal!
Various Play Foods
Whenever I buy toys for Zoey, I like to make sure that they have ‘playability.’ I tend to aim for items that can be used in a range of scenarios – play food is perfect for so many role play activities from playing ‘shops’ to creating a cafe.
In the photo, you can see a sandwich making set by Bello toys and a felt shopping basket from IKEA.
I love creating story baskets for Zoey – there will be another series of posts coming soon! Here we used the board book – mainly because it is more compact and durable! A cuddly tiger, a small dolly and part of the Kmart tea set.
If you want more ideas, head on over to our Facebook or Instagram pages for daily inspiration!
Welcome to week two of our brand new ‘Discovery Table’ series! This week, we’re all about the alphabet. We’ve had a fair few alphabet resources out for one of my students recently and Zoey has taken a real interest.
If you haven’t read week one yet, here’s the low-down on what the discovery tables are all about. The aim is two-fold: firstly it’s a way to follow Zoey’s current interests and secondly to rotate toys and resources on a regular basis.
The table is just a simple coffee table (previously used to dump toys on!) that is at an accessible height for Zoey. This is not about forced learning but allowing the opportunity for her to access resources more easily.
So what’s on the table?
The books and resources on the table are ones which we already had at home – please don’t go out especially and buy resources unless you are in the market for some new items!
Alphablocks by Hello Pear!
Hello Pear is one of our favourite Australian small businesses. The alpha blocks are versatile as a learning resource: we use them for letter recognition, spelling and even building! There’s something about the tactile nature of alpha blocks that helps learning stick much more readily than computerised learning tools.
Letter Match Alpha-Pops by Learning Resources
These are a great resources for matching capital and lower case letters. The colours match, making it easy for little learners, plus the alpha-pops can double as a role play resource too!
Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
We received this gorgeous book in the latest Happy Explorers play kit. It’s a fantastic resources that promotes healthy eating through vibrant illustrations. As you can see from the photo above, Zoey loves it. The latest Happy Explorers kit is all about the alphabet, so click on the link to check it out!
ABC Lacing Sweets by Learning Resources
We love the smooth feel of these ‘sweets’ they come in a little jar that again doubles as a great role play resource. The product also came with laces which help develop fine motor skills – whilst the laces aren’t very long, I kept them off the table just in case!
Chunky puzzle from Kmart
‘Santa’ put this in Zoey’s stocking at Christmas time. To be honest, I thought it might be too old for her, but she’s totally rocked it so far! The beauty of the discovery table is that it allows Zoey to freely access resources of her choosing, allowing me to better understand her preferences and abilities.
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.