Archive of ‘Play-based Learning’ category

Extending Play: Water Balloons

I posted on my Instagram this week one simple thought:

    Play in itself is simple. The learning that happens within play is beautifully complex. 

This thought right here has been on my mind a lot lately. I have focused my recent energy on teaching and showing others how minimalism and play-based learning can go hand it hand. Not in the minimalist mindset of “only have 100 items”, but it the sense of bringing home and keeping only physical objects that serve a purpose or add a great deal of value to your life.

Please know that I am not for donating and purging all your toys and starting new. I am not for packing them all up to teach kids a lesson. I come from a reasonable place with my play-based minimalism.

By designing a home environment that has fewer toys, you are able to gracefully work on the habit of sustained attention and responsibility. More to come on the psychology of this in later posts.

One way that we are able to have fun-filled, learning days at home without a great deal of “teaching toys” is by extending the play with the toys that we have. I have started a blog series that will focus on extending play.

For today, I want to discuss something very simple:  Water Balloons with the focus of extending play.

This morning was our normal extraordinarily ordinary type, a bed headed child playing.

It started with the request for water balloons. Sure, why not!

We filled the balloons up. Some we filled up with all water. Some we blew a little air on top of the water.

We also got out two bins: her blue bin and red wagon. I filled the blue one with water and left the wagon empty.  She spent time moving the balloons back and forth between the bins.

When I noticed her attention was drifting but I wanted to work on the habit of sustained attention, I pulled out some sorting cups and simply rested a balloon in it. I didn’t speak any words during this demonstration, but she saw my action. Soon she was filling the other cups with balloons and talking about them “fitting” and “falling”.

This then turned into her dipping the stacking cups in the water and watering her balloons and practicing dumping her cups. This then led back into sorting the balloons back and forth between the bins and a sing-a-long of Bumping Up and Down.

Play-Based Skills

Language: Full or Empty? Big or Small?

Cognitive Skills: Sorting, Colors, Cause and Effect, Will it fit?

Physical: scooping, dumping, dropping, throwing, pulling (wagon), stacking


Roots+Wings: Ocean Life Preview Day

Each Roots+Wings playdate will have a similar structure so that the children will become familiar with the rhythm.  Please enjoy this photo summary of our day!

Invitation to Play


(Seashell fossil prints with homemade play dough)

(Sand sensory bin with some friendly alligators)

(Water play with some sharks, whales and lobsters)

Read Aloud

  (We read Rainbow Fish, a cute book about a fish that shared his shiny scales with friends)


(For the record, the turtle won!)

(The kids practiced sharing the jelly fish)

 Main activity

(The kids painted rocks to share with the community)

(Isn’t it amazing how different the rocks are. That’s the beauty of letting them freely create!)

(And now they hide the rocks and let others find them. #rootsandwingsrocks)

Thank you for joining!   

P.S If you missed the other preview days, check them out here:


4th of July



Happy Birthday, Dogs

I’ve written about daily and weekly rhythms many times and just as our children grow and change, our home rhythms should shift as well. A month or so ago, I  declared Thursdays the “we don’t leave the house day” and it is wonderful! We bop around here, I catch up laundry and clean the house for the weekend. They have become such a nice day and I have a feeling once Roots+Wings launches in August, I will cherish this day at home even more so.

This Thursday I woke up feeling like I wanted to do something silly. My little one will be two later this month and she is really into birthdays. She sings us “Happy Birthday” multiple times and day and delivers found object presents and makes cakes with blocks and fake food all the time. Her other love… her doggies. So today, we hosted a dog party because Finn and Cooper’s birthdays are both in June and July.

There was nothing fancy about our dog birthday party but it was a blast. We read dog books, made a sign, wrapped presents, made dog food cake and celebrated with my mom and their two dogs. We didn’t have to go buy anything extra, although I did take the opportunity to get the spoiled little mutts a couple new toys.

But I was reminded of an important lesson as a mom: Things can still be calm and simple while still “going all out”. 

(Preparing for the party was just as fun as the actual celebration.)

(Grandma “Mom Mom” reading the book of the week)

(We kept some of our favorite dog book on display today)

(The dogs in their beautiful flower crowns that my mom made)

Roots+Wings: Cloud Themed Preview Day

Each Roots+Wings playdate will have a similar structure so that the children will become familiar with the rhythm. Today was rainy so some of our planned lessons were altered and most families stayed home due to the weather, but we had a great time enjoying some cloud activities. Please enjoy this photo summary of our day!

Invitation to Play

(Playing with cloud sand)
(Planned sensory bin, but decided to not bring it out because we were inside)

Read Aloud
  (Really cute book!)
 (Little cloud turns into different shapes.)

Main activity, Mini-lesson

(Ink blot cloud art)(Creating clouds with cotton balls, shaping them like the book)

We had a fun science experiment planned, but the weather didn’t hold out for us. No worries though, it was a perfect opportunity to talk about how rain comes from clouds.

Thank you for joining!   

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