An exciting water filled pat mat of an ocean scene containing floating foam sea creatures including whales, sharks, crabs, seahorses and fish has taken up residence in the nest for the babies to explore. This has been a really effective learning resource, providing opportunities for the babies to build on their physical skills (fine and gross), such as crawling, patting and balancing.
Their sensory skills were also enhanced by exploring the movement of the water, texture of the plastic and the temperature and sounds that can be made. The babies thoroughly enjoyed playing independently and alongside adults and their friends helping build relationships and social skills. The adults helped encourage language by using keywords, throughout the babies play; ‘splash, splash’ ‘red crab’ encouraging repetitive sound making. A key skill the babies have been developing is the ability to follow the sea creatures with their eyes and hands, tracing the path of a creature moving about the space or the outline of the shapes.
Many of the babies found it very relaxing, laying on it and feeling the rhythm of the water, pressing the side of their face down on to it, enjoying the cool plastic and the funny noises they could hear. This was a great opportunity for the less confident babies to experience a new toy, watch the other children and learn through their peers. The most confident of the group found that they learnt boundaries in play: how to walk on a wobbly surface and how unpredictable water movement is and gentle hands were needed!
All in all a very productive learning opportunity and provides lots to build on.