Exploring Pouring

One of my favorite presents I got year before last was a ShamWow.  It sounds like a bad commercial, but it’s true.  We spill something at our house at least once every other day, sometimes multiple times a day, and those crazy towels really do soak up everything.  Now some of you may be asking yourselves how on earth we can possibly be so messy.  Or maybe you sympathize because you too have a toddler at your house and well, toddlers love to dump and spill and pour – over and over and over again.

This is when I start to ask why.

You see when a child does something repeatedly it generally means he’s trying to learn something, and he must repeat the behavior to solidify that learning.  And in this case it is true.  Pouring, dumping, and spilling teaches us about the concept of full and empty, in and out, and narrow and wide.

The next thing I ask is how can I find a way to make this behavior okay.  Now I don’t mean avoiding teaching appropriate table etiquette.  I do mean, when an annoying behavior persists, how I can help my child find an appropriate outlet for that energy, activity, or curiosity.  “You may not pour your sippy cup out on the table.  If you’d like to pour something, let’s get in the bathtub and pour the water together.”  Of course, there are moments when finding a good outlet for redirection is easy and other moments when it is very hard.  So, to help you out a little, here’s a fun activity you can try together to explore pouring.  You need:

  • dry sand
  • water
  • plastic pitchers and bottles of various sizes with small and large openings
  • funnel

Invite your child to fill a pitcher with sand.  Can he pour the sand from the pitcher into a bottle without a funnel?  What happens?  Now invite him to try pouring from the pitcher, through a funnel into a bottle.  Is it easier?  Is the funnel necessary for him to pour the sand from the bottle back into the pitcher?  Try this with water also.  (You may want to play with sand one day and water a different day to prevent mud creations.)

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