How do you teach a toddler to scoop? With a Fill It Up Station, that’s how.
Before you black out with fear, give me half a minute to explain. Yes, that is my not-even-two-year-old pouring rice in a bin on the floor of my kitchen. And it’s ok. I meant to do this. It’s his “Fill It Up Station” and it serves a BIG PURPOSE.
RELATED: Need information on starting sensory bins with tabies and toddlers? Check out this post on “My First Sensory Bin.”
This activity is totally necessary.
I know it doesn’t exactly seem necessary to give my taby free reign on a bin that big, fill of rice but I promise you it’s going to be ok.
- He’s been doing sensory bins a while so he knows the “rules” (read this to learn the rules).
- He NEEDS TO DO THIS so he can learn how to scoop and fill. This activity isn’t just to give you a heart attack. There’s a lot of learning here.
RELATED: What do kids learn from sensory bins? Find out SIX key skills learned from bin.
Let’s start with worst case: worst case, I need to sweep up some rice.
He’s not going to dump the bin (I’m right here with him).
If he throws a handful, I’m there to tell him to stop (so it won’t get out of control).
And frankly, this kid makes such a big mess eating dinner that no amount of rice will phase me.
He needs to learn how to scoop!
Scooping is a “life skill” – something my sweet boy will be doing all his life. He needs to know how to scoop and how to fill, and what better way for him to learn than in a safe, low stress, no pressure atmosphere like a sensory bin.
This is his chance to grow and develop and learn.
Our kids learn best by doing. So we need to let them “do” sometimes and be willing to overlook the mess.
The low down on the simple set up for this “Fill It Up Station”
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- Rice (this is 4 lbs of dry rice that I’ve had for 2 years)
- Plastic cups
- Storage container (28 qt is my favorite size)
I went for “double binning” for this activity, meaning I put the rice in a small sensory container then set that inside my larger 28 qt container.
Next to the rice, I set a bunch of cups of varying colors and sizes.
I sat and modeled this first
I got right on the ground with my son – right to his level – and said, “Today, you are going to fill the cups! I need you to fill the cups with rice.”
Then I modeled it. As I modeled it, I repeated the same phrase over and over, “Scoop and pour. Scoop and pour.”
Now, it was his turn.
He DIDN’T get it right away.
And that’s ok. That’s why I’m here and that’s why we are practicing.
I modeled it again, then helped him move his hands and worked on that muscle memory for how to scoop and pour.
Scoop and pour, scoop and pour.
I must have said it a thousands times, but I don’t care! He got it!
It just took practice, working together, and lots and lots of praise. He nailed it.
How big was the mess?
He had one errant pour that went out of the bin, but that was it – and that’s not too bad. Like I said, I clean up way worse messes from this kid after dinner. A little dry rice is NOTHING.
Working on life skills with young toddlers is both important AND rewarding. You can often see progress immediately made, and you know you’ve given them a little boost in a skill that will be with them for the rest of their lives.
When will you make a “Fill It Up Station”?