Under-threes play ideas - baskets, bags and bowls

Fill up on learning fun

Basket weaving

  • Gather together a range of materials that the children can weave with - for example, peacock feathers, pieces of rope, coloured ribbons, pipe cleaners and so on.
  • Place these on the floor beside a plastic washing basket.
  • Join in with the children as they push the weaving materials into the holes in the basket.
  • Alternatively, attach large holed garden netting to a hoop with Sellotape.
  • Hang the hoop at the level of the children's height with string and encourage the children to weave with the materials provided.

A real scoop

  • Children love to scoop and pour so provide cups, spoons and funnels along with a big bowl of sand or water.

Nesting boxes

  • Provide nesting boxes to introduce children to concepts of size, pattern and sequence.
  • Start with two boxes of different sizes and gradually increase the number of containers that are offered at any one time.

Pull along containers

  • Cut open a 'lid' on fruit juice containers, punch a hole  in them and attach a length of string or ribbon. Toddlers will enjoy placing their toys in the containers and pulling them around the room or in the garden.

Do the washing

  • Provide a basket of baby clothes and another filled with clothes pegs.
  • Allow the children to explore the contents of the baskets. Encourage them to place the pegs around the edge of the basket, and to look at and name the pieces of clothing.
  • Hang a string or ribbon at low level (always supervise children around this and remove when not using).
  • Demonstrate hanging up a few of the items and invite the children to help. Let them take over with you in the support role.
  • You could also help them wash, wring and hang up the clothes.

Bubbles, bubbles

  • Place a bowl of warm water beside each child. It is easier if each has their own bowl, but sharing is fine. Offer the children some soap or bubble bath (be aware of children's allergies). Let them create 'suds' by manipulating the water.
  • Offer a selection of sponges, loofas, cloths and so on.
  • Encourage free play, or offer small items for them to clean, such as bath toys or small dolls.

Early bath

  • Gather together a variety of items for bath time, such as a facecloth, sponge, shower scrunchy, bar of soap, soft hairbrush, toothbrush, nailbrush, shower cap, a few bath toys and a toilet bag.
  • Look at the each of the items and show each is used.
  • Provide a bowl of water and a doll so that the can explore using the various items.

When using these suggestions, make sure that your resources are clean and safe for young children and that the activity is age appropriate - the ideas outlined cover the birth to three age range 

Based on ideas by Alice Sharp, managing director of training and resources company, Experiential Play, http://www.experientialplay.com

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