Learning with everyday objects
Simple household objects can make cheap, low-fuss toys that can help your child learn about the world around them.
Plastic containers, food, sticks and leaves, clothes or even pegs can all be used to teach your child about classifying objects – an important practical skill we all need in our day to day lives.
Learning how things look the same and how others are different is an important early skill that happens before children learn to read. Knowing that letters can look the same and others different, letters have names and make sounds and even that one letter can make different sounds are all essential early literacy skills that will pave the way for future learning.
So exploring and understanding shapes and how things are similar and different in a fun and playful way is an essential stepping stone for little ones.
To give your child plenty of opportunities to explore, try some of these ideas:
- Put a selection of objects together and ask your child to put them into groups. Can we arrange them by colour, size, shape, texture or use? Talk together about how your child has grouped the objects. Find new ways to sort them together.
- When reading a picture book, point out two pictures and ask your child what is similar and what is different about them. Books like the ones in the Hairy Maclary series by Lynley Dodd provide great opportunities for this activity. You could ask “What’s the same about Hairy Maclary and Schnitzel Von Krumm?” and; “What about what’s different?” Do we have a dog? What’s the same or different about our dog/friend’s dog and Hairy Maclary?
- Get help sorting the clean laundry by asking your child to make piles of different types of clothes. Talk about why you need to sort the clothes and the different ways you can do it.
- In the kitchen, compare the ingredients that go into your recipe and ask questions like, “which fruit is heavier, the apple or the strawberry?”, “how many different coloured vegetables are in our soup?”, “how do these carrots look the same and how are they different?”
- Unpack the cutlery drawer and challenge your child to put everything back in its place. Talk about why you put the things that are like each other together.
- When it’s time to tidy up, ask your child to help put things in piles so they can go back where they belong. For example, you could say “let’s put all the books together here and all the toys in the box.”
- At bathtime, test some objects that float and ones that sink. Organise them into groups together.