What’s In the Box?

© Husky, via Wikimedia Commons

Pebbles make a certain sound when they are rattled in a cardboard box.  It’s different from the sound rice makes.  And pasta spirals make a pleasant but light clatter when they are shaken.  Would you know the difference relying only on your ears?

This is a great game for young kids of all ages, and once again is inspired by my resourceful little girl.

Take a cardboard box.  Any box will do, as long as you can close it.  Smaller is better so the children can hold it in their hands and manipulate it easily.

Then take it in turns to put different things in the box.  The one who chooses the contents gently shakes it and the other person has to guess what’s inside.  So simple, but an incredibly addictive and fun game.

Things we found to put in and bamboozle each other with included:

  • A walnut – one that the squirrels had missed!
  • Blades of grass – dry produces a subtly different sound from wet
  • Small stones
  • Twigs – one, or several
  • Pasta
  • Dried rice
  • Cotton wool – this was particularly sneaky of my girl, who was delighted by my failure to guess!
  • A sock
  • Scrunched up pieces of paper
  • A lego brick

The sensory aspect of this game really tests the brain’s ability to associate sounds with shapes, and different materials.  The children loved it.  We will play again.  I have to find a new box first though …. Ella’s experiment with water produced a great splishy-splashy sound when shaken, but reduced the box to a grey mush in minutes.  Nice!

Borrowed Time

© Jorge Barrios (Own Work), via Wikimedia Commons

© Jorge Barrios (Own Work), via Wikimedia Commons

My little girl stayed up late last night.  While I pottered in the kitchen making a late dinner, she sat at the kitchen table, playing.  At 9pm she was due to go to bed.  I looked across and was about to usher her gently upstairs, when the sounds of her game arrested me.

She was playing with Lego.  Girly Lego, all pinks and purples, and jewel-like door knobs.  She had created a little house and garden, and had entered a world of complete fantasy with a handful of little Lego girls.  She played for fully 45 minutes, totally lost, and making the most adorable voice changes for each character.  I was entranced.

At 5 years old she has just started to get the idea that impeccable behaviour and a low profile can reap the benefit of a later bedtime.  I’m sure this was part of the story, yet there was something else too.  She was playing like she was on borrowed time.  As indeed she was, the Sword of Bedtime hanging perilously over her sweet head.  This ever-present possibility of her game being arrested made her play with a greater enthusiasm and intensity.  The game became more than just a fun thing to do.  It was a means to an end, and charged with excitement as a result.

It made me reflect on how I play with the children.

I’m usually busy (who isn’t!), and playtime is all too often something that is fitted in around other daily obligations.  As I stack blocks, play Princesses or build a den with them I’m having fun, but half my mind is often elsewhere, or thinking about how the mess being created is going to take ages to tidy up.  I feel like I’m short-changing them, and myself.  That’s not a comfortable acknowledgement.

Hmm, what to do?  Then it hit me.

Simple.  

Play like I’m on borrowed time too.  

They grow so fast, one day I’ll realise they don’t really want to play anymore at all.  My new resolution is to leave my adult mind at the door when I enter the play-zone, and access that excitement that comes from truly losing yourself in a game.