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


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