Teaching your toddler to use a spoon? Try making a cornmeal scooping station.
Sensory bins always get a really bad rap for being “messy”. I’m using messy in quotation marks because I don’t think they’re really that messy. Not when I think about dinner time.
Dinner time is a mess. A hot mess and an actual mess. It’s hard for kids to feel themselves, utensils are tricky, and dinner messes can add up quickly. So why not teach kids how to “do dinner” the same way we teach them how to “do sensory bins”.
Welcome to the Cornmeal Scooping Station: my latest activity for teaching young toddlers about utensils.
Why I set up a cornmeal scooping station
I set up this cornmeal scooping station to give my sweet taby (that’s my term for a toddler/baby hybrid) a chance to work on his scooping skills.
It’s this intricate fine motor skills play that will help him (18 months) develop the skills to use a spoon more efficiently.
Since he’s a taby who loves a good sensory bin moment – I knew a scooping station would be perfect for helping him develop this skill (and hopefully develop it soon so dinner isn’t such a hot mess).
How to set it up
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- Storage container (mine is 28qt Sterilite brand)
- Egg carton
I’m a firm believer that the best toddler activities often start with some light dumpster diving. This started with some light recycle bin diving but same-same.
The egg cartons serve as my taby’s “target” – his place to scoop into. This way he can practice both scooping and pouring – both insanely important life skills for kids to develop.
I poured the cornmeal next to the egg carton and set in some scoops (these are formula scoops).
I stayed close to monitor
Because scooping and transferring are both such new skills for my son to learn, I stayed close during this activity to help him.
And he did get stuck from time to time on remembering how to use the scoop. So I’d model and show him again how to dunk the scoop in the cornmeal, pull it up, and rotate his wrist to dump it.
You forget how hard these simple tasks are until you try helping someone learn them for the first time!
After about 5 minutes of scooping (which is a lot for an 18-month-old) he was ready to change up this sensory bin. His big sister (age 3) came over with trucks and blocks and toy animals and the two of them had the best time playing in the bin.
Because sometimes even just cornmeal can be so much fun to play with!
Life skills like these are important to introduce to our tabies and toddlers to help them with navigating our world – and in helping make meal times just that much easier!
When will you make a cornmeal scooping station?