Despite my best efforts, I can’t always keep Belle’s attention with cooking tasks. Sometimes I’m trying to finish a million mini cookies for the church tea and need Belle to stop trying to squish and/or eat the cut-out cookies. And that’s when we turn to alternate ways to occupy her. Continue reading “Occupying Belle While I Finish, Part 3”
Belle got hungry and distracted and wanted blueberries. But then didn’t want blueberries, because she’s a toddler. Then she grabbed an ice cube tray and created her own activity. Continue reading “Occupying Belle While I Finish, Part 2”
Size comparison is a multi-disciplinary skill that draws on language and cognition, as well as an early math skill. At about 2.5 years old, Belle should be learning the concepts and words for big vs little. She’s categorizing objects (these are measuring cups, those are measuring spoons), comparing the sizes, and learning to understand and pronounce the words.
(Interestingly, even though /l/ is hard to say, little actually sounds more or less like /little/. If we tried to have her say small, it would come out closer to /daw/ because she simplifies the consonant cluster. So big vs little it is!)
In the kitchen, there are a bunch of things I can use to point out the sizes. We start with two items: the big bowl and the little bowl. “Crack an egg into the little bowl, then wait for Mama to pick out any shells. Now pour it into the big bowl.”
Belle uses measuring cups as scoops for flour and sugar – I can lay out a big and little scoop and ask her to pick the little scoop. Once she has that down consistently, I can add a third scoop (the medium scoop) and introduce that concept.
Belle hasn’t quite figured out the superlative –est ending, but I use it with the measuring spoons. “We need a quarter teaspoon. Which is the littlest spoon?” She’ll grab something that isn’t the tablespoon – good, because it is littler. “See how that spoon is still bigger than this spoon?” I can ask, showing the 1/2 teaspoon. “Which one is the littlest, the one that doesn’t have any spoons smaller than it?” She won’t start expressing it for another year or so but will start understanding it sooner.
I can also expose her to the superlative -est ￼or the little/medium/big concept less explicitly. Our flour and sugar are in gallon size glass jars, while whole wheat flour is in a three-quart glass jar and brown sugar is in a two-quart metal canister. We keep chocolate chips and such in quart-size mason jars. So when we’re looking for the next ingredient, I can ask Belle, “where’s the brown sugar?” She usually points, but is used to me eliciting speech with “The big jar or the little jar?” and pointing myself to the two sugar jars.
Or maybe it’s flour we’re looking for – “the big jar or the medium jar?” Or chocolate chips – “are they in the littlest jar?” – phrased in a way to take advantage of her tendency to echo the last word or two of what she hears.
Even our spatulas are useful – “do we need the big spatula or the little spatula to scrape the peanut butter out of the scoop?” I try to give her an opportunity to fail, so if the big spatula won’t fit in the quarter-cup measure but that’s the one she chose, I hand her the big spatula anyway. When Belle fails because it’s too wide, she adds that to the mental list of dimensions she has to check next time.
Check around your kitchen – what do you have in multiple sizes that can be used for size comparisons?
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I love sticking Belle in front of the sink for some sensory play, especially when it is largely empty. A limited set of objects to play with means Belle uses each of them more intentionally: small containers are used to fill big containers, a spare breast pump flange is used as a funnel, a spoon redirects the water flow, a sponge regularly adds rainfall to the scene. Continue reading “Water Play”
Sequencing is the cognitive process or putting things in order; typically a chronological order. It’s used in language to communicate about an event, eg what led up to an action, the action itself, and what followed. It’s used in motor skills to accomplish a task by breaking it down into its base elements and doing them in order. Adaptively, it’s necessary for virtually every life skill/task. Unlike some other skills, sequencing works iteratively and builds upon itself to increasing numbers of steps and increasing chronological distance from an event or task.
We make cowboy cookies whenever we feel like channeling my Grandma, need a super flexible and forgiving recipe, or just don’t feel like flipping back and forth to a recipe. With 30-odd years of experience, I’ve got this one memorized.
Today, we targeted sequencing, since this is a familiar recipe. Belle knows that first we start with the butter and sugar, then the eggs, then the flour, and I test her knowledge with “what comes first? Butter or flour?” At 2.5ish, she can handle 2 steps comfortably, but 3 steps are a bit of a stretch. She also doesn’t have the ability to tune out her favorite task (cracking eggs), so I avoid using that as an option when working on sequencing. Continue reading “Cowboy Cookies”